From the Publisher
"Rich language, colorful syntax, vivid description and a brilliant cast of characters beckon readers right into both the adventure and the heartfelt emotional landscape. Exciting, action-packed and absolutely marvelous."
—Kirkus, starred review
"What captivates is the world that Moriarty has created, one where magic is woven into the very fabric. . . A touch of Chabon, a hiss of steampunk, and a blast of originality."
—Booklist, starred review
"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."
—School Library Journal
Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
It is the turn of the twentieth century and Sacha Kessler works as an apprentice inquisitor with the New York City Police Department. But, this is not quite the same New York that you may have read about in history books. No, this is a parallel world where magic is a fact of life and a force that can be used for good or evil. Sacha’s mentor is Inspector Wolf, a laconic and effective cop in a city where corruption runs rampant on the police force. Sacha has already had a series of adventures working with Wolf and now must face the potentially dire consequences of his family’s actions. It is a time of immigration, labor action, organized crime, and poverty in the Bowery section of the city where the Kessler’s live. It is also a time when strange magical forces seem to be marshalling the city in support not only of a corrupt multi-millionaire bent on squashing emerging unions but also in pursuit of Sacha for his past actions. In order to defeat these forces and protect his loved ones, Sacha must try to understand magic and the power he has hesitated to use in the past. Written as a sequel to The Inquisitor’s Apprentice, Chris Moriarty’s most recent book takes her readers into a magical world that, albeit fanciful, seems strangely recognizable as old New York. With an emphasis on period authenticity, as well as a hearty dose of Immigrant Jewish culture and traditions, The Watcher in the Shadows will appeal to youngsters interested in the fantasy genre. It is recommended that readers begin with the first book in the series as starting with this one may at times feel like attending a dinner party with strangers. However, the storytelling is good and leaves enough loose ends to require at least one more book to wrap them up. Sacha Kessler is due some more adventures and readers should look forward to being part of them. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck; Ages 10 up.
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, MA
The magic is darker in this intense sequel to The Inquisitor's Apprentice (2011). In a richly imagined alternate version of New York City at the turn of the 20th century, Sacha continues his on-the-job training in the police department's Inquisitor division amid murder, abduction and terrifying encounters with evil beings both real and magical. J.P. Morgaunt mercilessly wields his magical power over newspapers, transportation, manufacturing and just about everything else, including a soul-stealing machine with which he has loosed Sacha's doppelganger, a dybbuk that is constantly growing stronger. An impending strike at the Pentacle Shirtwaist Factory is the catalyst for Morgaunt's machinations, which encompass the workers' union, the crime syndicate Magic, Inc., martial arts and Kabbalists. When Sacha's family is drawn into this morass, he must make impossible choices between guarding their safety and working with Inspector Wolf, Lily and Peyton, all of whom have become dear to him. Moriarity again manages to capture the great distance between rich and poor, the struggle of immigrants to cope with bigotry and poverty, and the rapidly growing and changing world of the real New York City, while staying true to Sacha's mystical city. Rich language, colorful syntax, vivid description and a brilliant cast of characters beckon readers right into both the adventure and the heartfelt emotional landscape. Exciting, action-packed and absolutely marvelous. (Fantasy. 10 & up)