Some books take you on a roller coaster ride—flinging you from one exciting or terrifying event to another, with no room to take a breath. Other books are like a lazy stroll on a fall day—quiet, calm, and measured. The Inquisitor’s Apprentice, the first children’s book by award-winning author Chris Moriarty, uses the best of both approaches. The result is an engaging book that draws you slowly into its creative new world, filled with wonderfully detailed characters, and then suddenly whisks you straight in to the middle of the crime of the century.

Sacha is a young Jewish boy living with his parents and grandparents in the Lower East Side of New York City, around 1900. However, this is not the New York of history books. Magic is a part of every day life, especially in the Jewish community, and it’s the job of the Inquisitors to keep that magic under control. That’s why the family is shocked when Sacha’s hidden talent gets him apprenticed to the most important Inquisitor in New York City, Maximillian Wolf. The other apprentice under Inquisitor Wolf is the rich, spoiled, and snobby Lily Astral. Together, the three must discover who is trying to kill Thomas Edison – the inventor of a machine that can detect magicians. Sacha soon discovers, however, that all of the clues lead back to the Lower East Side, and right back to his family.

The Inquisitor’s Apprentice is unlike any book currently available. Sacha is a Jewish boy, and that affects every part of his life. It also makes him a very deep and strong character, and someone you like and identify with right away. Moriarty creates a world that begs to be explored, filled with characters that have you coming back again and again. Mark Edward Geyer’s illustrations are beautiful, and add even more depth to the story. Part mystery, part fantasy, part coming-of-age story, The Inquisitor’s Apprentice is a book for anyone who has ever thought that maybe there is more to this world than what we can see.

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