Archive for July, 2011

A Never-Ending Bedtime Adventure

There’s nothing like cuddling up in bed with an entrancing fairy tale in the middle of the summer, and once again, Walter Moers transports me to such an enchanting story that can any reader can ingest pleasurably to get through the blissful nights. Of all of the books I’ve read this summer, I haven’t been as tightly wound to a delicious and captivating plotline as much as the one in The Alchemaster’s Apprentice. Unlike Bluebear or Rumo, the story is stripped of lengthy, and often unnecessary descriptions of setting, which Moers traditionally weaves into the story to describe a journey. Although the novel is not in first person, the novel was so comforting that I felt like there was an available seat within Echo’s head to grab onto his thoughts. The story follows a crat (a Zamonian version of a cat) named Echo who wanders the streets of the ill and distressed town of Malaisea. Faced with the risk of starvation, Ghoolion, the sole leader and head Alchemaster offers Echo a deal. Echo benefits from a culinary journey through a Willy Wonka-esque buffet of gourmet food and an opportunity to learn the tricks and secrets of the Alchemaster’s trade. In return, Echo’s throat is slit at the end of the month in order to extract his fat and benefit Ghoolion’s sinister plan for complete domination over Malaisea. After Echo signs the contract and spends more time with the Alchemaster, he makes friends with several of the critters, such as the mature and guardian-like owl Theodore T. Theodore, who shows him the essence of love and eternal happiness with a female crat. Echo realizes how little he knows about the outside world and decides that he’d rather remain alive in order to chase after the possibility of happiness. In order to get past the intellectual mind of Ghoolian and escape, Echo taps into the Alchemaster’s hidden emotions and his internal conflicts, such as his affection for his deceased lover from Ingotville. Echo summon’s his  new friend Izanuela the Uggly to portray Ghoolian’s wife and fiddle with his emotions. After gradually growing further apart in companionship, the two emerge into an inconspicuous all-out war of lethal, yet supposedly “thilling and fun” traps triggered by drugs and potions. This nonchalant battle between two superficial companions transforms the novel into a story with psychedelic trips that are reminiscent of Alice In Wonderland. These dream-like states as leathermice or demonic bees are absolutely vivid and have parallels with the physical state of Echo as he gains weight to satisfy the Alchemaster’s contract.  Echo’s final day grew from the facade of a business casual crat and his master to a completely stripped-down and revealing fight between the two forces. I was completely captivated by their growing tension and the ending was a struggle not only for Echo, but the reader as well to digest so quickly. After reading all of the novels in the Zamonia series, the Alchemaster’s Apprentice radiates with all of the incredible and unique writing skills of Walter Moers wrapped up in this “short” bedtime adventure. Let this be the dessert at the end of the day to indulge with every bite.