The Master’s Apprentice: A Retelling of the Faust Legend (Faustus #1) by Oliver Pötzsch, Lisa Reinhardt (Translator)

‘Nothing is without a plan.’

Germany, 1494.  Johann Georg Gerlach is born under a rare alignment of the stars.  He is called ‘Faustus’ (the lucky one) by his mother but is treated badly by her husband.  Faustus is fascinated by the skies and by learning: dangerous pastimes amid the superstitions of the time.

After being banished from Knittlingen as cursed, Johann meets the travelling fortune-teller, Tonio del Moravia.  Learning he is offered, but there is an exchange expected.  And so begins Mr Pötzsch’s retelling of the Faust legend. We journey with Johann as he learns from Tonio del Moravia and tries to survive.  We journey with Johann as he tries to break away from Tonio del Moravia, but we know he is being watched and that when the time is right, he may not be able to hide.

Such a deep, dark story this is. Can Johann survive?  And what about those he cares for?

‘Evil is the chaos that rails against the established truths and perpetually promises new beginnings.’

I made the mistake of reading the second book in this series first which, while it did not reduce my enjoyment of either book, did reduce the tension a little.  I have also enjoyed and can recommend Mr Pötzsch’s ‘The Hangman’s Daughter’ series.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith