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The Master’s Apprentice by Oliver Potzsch 


Rating: 2.5/5

What It’s About:

It’s the fifteenth century and only heretics are curious about the universe.

Germany, 1494. Born under a rare alignment of the stars, Johann Georg Gerlach, “the lucky one” to his mother—is fated for greatness. But Johann’s studies and wonder at the sky have made him suspect. Especially in wake of the child disappearances that have left the God-fearing locals trembling and his one true love trapped in terrified catatonia. Her only words: “I have seen the devil…”

Banished from Knittlingen as cursed, Johann crosses paths with Tonio del Moravia. The traveling fortune-teller and master of the arcane arts recognizes something extraordinary in the wanderer. Taking Johann under his wing, Tonio promises a new world of knowledge and sensations. But with it comes a sinister web of deception and a chilling prophecy.

The stars are set to align again. Now Johann must draw on the skills of his apprenticeship to solve the dark mystery that grips his village in fear and the deepening mystery of his own destiny.


What I liked

The shining light of The Master’s Apprentice was the historical setting. The author did an amazing job on building the German Renaissance world. It was the most interesting part of the book. This is the first book that I’ve read that takes place in Germany and during this particular time period. I took an art history class back in college on the Northern Renaissance and this background knowledge made this book more enjoyable for me.

I was fascinated by the descriptions the terrain, towns, cities, and different ways of life that occurred during this time. The way this book explored the radical new ideas of the Renaissance and the traditional beliefs was thought-provoking. Throughout the story, the characters walk on a fine line of exploring new research/ideas and keeping themselves from being tried as heretics by the church. Reading about the traveling performers, jugglers, and magicians was new for me as well. I liked reading about how they lived and worked together to make a living.

Another thing that I enjoyed was the inclusion of real life scientists, artists, and other historical figures that had influence during the time period. Especially one of my favorite artists, Albrecht Dürer, which I learned alot about in the above mentioned art history class 🤓. The antagonist was also a real life villain taken from history that I had never heard of.

What I didn’t like

Sadly, I really just couldn’t get myself to like the main character, Johann Faust. Despite being this brilliant character, he took FOREVER to figure out who was after him throughout the story. He was described as being so gifted and clever, but could not for the life of him put basic clues together. This is one of the main reasons I rated this book on the lower end. I think the book could have been about 30% shorter and still have been a good book. By the time I got to the big reveal, I was already mentally checked out.

The heavy inclusion of the occult, devil, and witchcraft was hard for me to get past. In the beginning it had good dark and creepy vibes that was thrilling, but after awhile it was just too much for me. I knew the basic legendary story about Faust and expected the story to have some parts that included these dark themes but I didn’t know it would be so considerable. It made me uneasy spending so much time reading about these topics and definitely affected me in a bad way.

Final Thoughts

As a historical fiction, The Master’s Apprentice was an enjoyable read. It gave me the opportunity to finally read a book during the German/Northern Renaissance. Unfortunately, the mystery, plot, and horror elements were too flawed for me to give this book a good rating. I had been interested in one of Oliver Potzsch’s other books, The Hangman’s Daughter, but have removed it from my TBR. I think Potzsch’s style of writing just isn’t a good fit for me.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear what you thought.


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