The Mad Genius Walter Moers Returns: The Alchemaster's Apprentice
(Two favorites from my personal library--Walter Moers' two latest from Overlook.)
The Overlook Press should get some kind of special dispensation from Heaven for bringing readers so many great books, and especially the work of German genius Walter Moers. For pure reading pleasure, nothing really beats his The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures, and The City of Dreaming Books. It's not just the incredible level of imagination on display in the text--it's also the stunning artwork that not only complements the writing but helps, in its own way, to tell the story. And what stories! Twisted, wild, brutally humorous and at times more serious than you might think, Moers as storyteller is a true original, a one-off whose sensibility and talent cannot be duplicated.
Now he's back with The Alchemaster's Apprentice. In this new crackpot adventure, set in Malaisea, a backward town of Zamonia, Echo the Crat is forced into a contract with Ghoolion the Alchemaster that calls for him to be rendered for his fat in a month's time. Yes, you read that correctly. Fat-rendering will occur, unless Echo can find some way out of the contract--which he attempts by consulting with creatures far and wide. Echo, you see, can speak in the language of every species. What species? Well, this is Moers, so they include Leathermice, Cogitating Eggs, the Cooked Ghost, and more.
As noted, the charm of Moers' books comes not just from the text, so here are a few photos of the interior pages, to give you the full effect. Highly recommended...
As usual, the fun starts with a playful title page. Moers has a knack for finding an image that has mischief and mayhem written all over it.
Some of the two-page spreads are absolutely magnificent. Moers is no slouch at describing his settings in words, but the texture and deliberately crowded qualities of this piece add so much to the atmosphere of the novel.
Smaller pieces do a masterful job of riffing off of the concept of a mad scientist's laboratory. As usual, Moers manages to combine the humorous with the grotesque.
When he chooses to, Moers can also evoke classic Gothic imagery, with his own take on castles, cathedrals and the like.