From School Library Journal
Gr 5-7–Imagine a turn-of-the-20th-century New York in which the Irish, Italian, and Jewish mob bosses are fighting to retain power, and the wealthy, in particular J. P. Morgaunt, are trying to rule the city with magical power. The police inquisitors use magic to catch criminals, and Morgaunt has used it to take a soul to create an evil twin, a dybbuk, of Sacha Kessler, the 13-year-old boy from the Jewish tenements who has been chosen to be an inquisitor's apprentice. The story picks up shortly after The Inquisitor's Apprentice (Houghton Harcourt, 2011) ended, with the dybbuk still causing turmoil and death. Inquisitor Wolff, Sacha's mentor, is investigating a murder of a famous klezmer player for which a boy is being framed at the same time that Sacha's sister and her fellow members of the IWW are going on strike at the Pentacle Shirtwaist Factory. Sacha is faced with the reality that his wealthy fellow apprentice Lily Astral might actually be his friend, that his mother has been drawn into Morgaunt's evil plan, and that his grandfather, the revered Rabbi Kessler, has sacrificed himself to Sacha's dybbuk. Faced with loss and heartache, Sacha must decide if he wants to learn to practice his gift for deep magic or remain faithful to his religion and the wishes of his grandfather. Moriarty has once again fashioned a complex mystery and adventure that is as twisted and unexpected as the stairways and rooms of the tenement buildings he so adeptly describes. Youngsters will want to read the first book before delving into this one. Many readers will be hoping for at least another volume to discover if good magic can overcome the evil seeping out of the ever-changing mansion of J.P. Morgaunt.–Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* The second book in the Inquisitor’s Apprentice series picks up where the first left off. And where’s that? New York City—mostly the Lower East Side—at the turn of the last century. Ah, but this New York is overflowing with magic. Spells are cast, kabbalists reign, and dybbuks roam. Thirteen-year-old Sacha lives in a tenement with his parents; his rabbi grandfather, a mage of some repute; and his sister Bekah, a seamstress at the Pentacle Shirtwaist Factory, owned by the treacherous J. P. Morgaunt. Sacha may be only a young teen, but he is apprenticed to Inspector Wolf of the Inquisitor’s unit of the NYPD—those tasked with investigating magical crime. The rather convoluted plot involves the murder of the Klezmer King (fried in his electric tuxedo) and a strike at the shirtwaist factory. Oh, and the dybbuk Sacha set free last time out reappears with dire consequences. But although this is full of story, what captivates is the world that Moriarty has created, one where magic is woven into its very fabric. That its many practitioners all have their own ways of casting spells is part of what makes these characters so memorable. But from crime lords to rebbes, it is their own particular wisdom that deepens the nonstop action. A touch of Chabon, a hiss of steampunk, and a blast of originality. Grades 6-10. --Ilene Cooper