‘A world crafted almost entirely of nightmares’ – The Alchemaster’s Apprentice by Walter Moers

There are some books that are so good you want to devour them in one go, and then there are some books that you want to savour so that they never end. The Alchemaster’s Apprentice is the latter. Halfway through, I found myself rationing the pages, trying to make it last and, when I did, I found that I missed it.           

The book centres around Echo, a fantastical creature called a Crat – similar to the domestic cat – who is fluent in every language. About to starve after the death of his beloved owner, he makes a dangerous pact with the Alchemaster, governor of the town of Malaisea. I almost don’t want to say any more about the plot, because it is so beautiful and well developed that it would spoil the surprise.

The Alchemaster’s Apprentice is a fairy story for adults: deliciously grim, comical and accompanied by the most beautiful pen and ink drawings. It is a world crafted almost entirely of nightmares but, even in the darkest of dreams, there is room for hope.

Any Cop?: This book reminded me of the edge of the seat reading I did as a child, and it was an utter thrill and pleasure to read. Echo and his friends will stay with me for a long time.

Helen Dring


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