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The Inquisitor's Apprentice Hardcover – October 4, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Moriarty’s novel is chock-full of period detail (both in the author’s confident prose and Geyer’s occasional pen-and-ink illustrations), feisty character dynamics, and a solid sense of humor. It’s a fascinating example of alternate history that leaves the door open for future mysteries."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A marvelous, mystical romp that doesn’t ignore reality. A hint of a possible sequel whets readers’ appetite for more: Yes, please!"—Kirkus, starred review

"Moriarty's thoroughly imagined alternate history has a killer premise...The mystery unfolds at a heady clip." -Booklist

"Spoiler Alert: It’s awesome." —Fuse #8 Blog on School Library Journal

"A wonderfully inventive and fascinating story of the clash of ancient magic and early-twentieth century technology. A compelling book that I read in a single sitting and highly recommend."—Garth Nix, New York Times bestselling author of Sabriel and the Seventh Tower series

"Fantastic . . . a great magic trick."—Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Little Brother

"You’ll fall right into The Inquisitor’s Apprentice by Chris Moriarty."— Robin Hobb, international best-selling author of the Rain Wilds Chronicles

"Cory Doctorow told me I would love this, and he was so right!"—Ellen Kushner

About the Author

Chris Moriarty grew up in New York surrounded by a loud and zany family much like Sacha Kessler’s. Chris has published several science fiction novels, including Spin Control, which won the Philip K. Dick Award. She wrote The Inquisitor’s Apprentice for her children so that they would be able to read a fantasy that celebrates their New York Jewish heritage. Chris lives in upstate New York.

Mark Edward Geyer is best known as the illustrator of two Stephen King novels: Rose Madder and The Green Mile. Mark has worked in a variety of illustration genres, including corporate advertising, editorial, and architectural. He comes from a long line of artists. Visit his website at

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Series: Inquisitor's Apprentice (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547581351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547581354
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,107,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Author of SPIN STATE, SPIN CONTROL, GHOST SPIN, and THE INQUISITOR'S APPRENTICE. Winner of the 2006 Philip K. Dick Award. Book reviewer for the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Owner of the most patient dog in the multiverse.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kate Coombs VINE VOICE on September 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Picture Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars... Now plop them into New York City, make the Irregulars into a rich girl and a poor Jewish boy, and add a generous dose of magic. Nope, still not a good enough analogy. But it leads you in the right direction, where you'll find Sacha Kessler, a boy from an alternate version of New York's Lower East Side in the days of Thomas Edison, who is a key character in the story.

Chapter One is titled with precision: "The Boy Who Could See Witches." When Sacha blurts out that he can actually see the magic created by Mrs. Lasscha in her bakery, he is caught by a New York Police Department Inquisitor, who proceeds to recruit him. Not that he has much choice! Sacha has to take an IQ (Inquisitorial Quotient) test, which confirms his magical ability. Sacha finds himself apprenticed to an odd, colorful detective named Maximillian Wolf.

Moriarty's premise and world building are utterly delightful. The first few chapters give us a wonderful Jewish neighborhood in a magical late nineteenth-century New York City. There's Sacha's uncle the anarchist and the neighbors who share a flat with Sacha's family: Mrs. Lehrer spends years sewing her savings into the lining of a coat. The baker, Mrs. Lassky, makes mildly bespelled pastries such as "Deliciously Efficacious Knishes...guaranteed to get any girl married within the year." The Wobblies are the Industrial Witches of the World, and the villain of the tale is a scarcely disguised Robber Baron, J.P. Morgaunt, while Sacha's fellow apprentice is gutsy Lily Astral (nice play on the name Aster!).

Then there's the shadowy figure who seems to be following Sacha... what does he want?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By joyful VINE VOICE on September 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was thrilled with the world Chris Moriarty created in The Inquisitor's Apprentice -turn of the century New York City where all sorts of magic flourishes secretly amongst its citizens.

In this New York City, each immigrant group (the Chinese, Italians, Irish, Jewish, etc.) has its own special brand of magic brought over from the Old World and tied to their cultures. But witchcraft is not only confined to immigrant magic; there are also Wall Street Wizardry of the likes of Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan, as well as of the scientific kind like Edison's. And then there are the regular magicians like Houdini, who practice making magic look artificial and thus acceptable. However, although this world is full of witchcraft, the Inquisitor's office exists to keep its citizens from practicing it.

I like how Moriarty contrasts these different magical groups and their treatment, whether criminalized or protected, to parallel the real plights of immigrants of that era within a magical context: class division, prejudices, economic hardships, labor disputes.

The most colorful parts of this novel, the ones I loved the best, dealt with Sacha's family of poor Jews living in the Lower East Side. His grandpa, the Rabbi; his hardworking father; the strong and loving mother; the feisty sister were the most vibrant characters in the novel. The Inquisitor's Apprentice is full of rich Jewish folkore, mysticism, and cultural details. I could practically smell the onion bialys and the rugelach wafting over from the Lower East Side as I read this book. (And salivating, mind you). The integration of Kabbalist beliefs, the Jewish legend of the dybbuk (a demon), along with other Edison's soul catcher and other sorcery at work made this fictional New York City a very enchanting one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on September 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Inquisitor's Apprentice is a fantasy set in an alternate New York in the early 20th century. Magic has been added to New York's melting pot with each ethnic group bringing its own type to the mix. The main character is a "nice Jewish boy" Sacha Kessler, who discovers he can "see" magic. This discovery leads to an apprenticeship with famous inquisitor Maximilian Wolf. Another new apprentice, Lily Astral, daughter of one the richest families in the city, and Wolf's secretary Philip Payton round out their team.

On Chris Moriarty's website for the book she states that she created this book for her son because she couldn't find a fantasy series with a Jewish hero for him to read. Isn't that the best gift ever! I wish someone would write a book series for me!

I am neither Jewish nor a New Yorker but I really enjoyed the first book in this series. I loved Sacha and his determination to take care of his family at all costs. You can't help but root for a character like that.

In fact I loved all the characters in The Inquisitor's Apprentice. They are quirky, endearing or in some cases creepy. And Moriarty's city of New York seems to be the most appealing character of all with its mix of ethnic groups, magic, and antiquated technology. I'm looking forward to the next installment in this series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Erin O'Riordan VINE VOICE on December 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's sort of like The Prestige mixed with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1) mixed with the Disney musical Newsies, but with more Jewish characters. Its protagonist is 13-year-old Sacha Kessler, who lives in the tenements, circa 1900, with his parents, his rabbi grandfather, his uncle and his sister Bekah. Magic is technically illegal in America, but still widely practiced, and one day Sacha learns he can see magic. This rare talent leads to his new job as an inquisitor's apprentice, learning the trade of detecting magical crimes. As an apprentice to Inquisitor Wolf, the most highly respected man in New York's magical law enforcement community, Sacha meets his fellow apprentice, Lily Astral, a society girl who prefers Yankees games to high tea. Wolf, Sacha and Lily are soon thrown into a high-profile crime: shortly after publicly accusing Harry Houdini of using real magic in his stage act, Thomas Edison is the victim of an attempted murder. This amusing alternate-history murder mystery with its likable pair of protagonists and wonderful old-fashioned setting is crying out for a sequel. Fortunately, according to Chris Moriarty's website, it's only the first in a series of five.
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