Reviewed by Kayti Nika Raet for Readers' Favorite
Joachim: The Heretic is the sequel to Joachim's Magic by M.L. Stainer and illustrated by James Melvin. Reis Courtney is the young apprentice to Joachim Gans, a Jewish metallurgist. Back in London after the failed copper expedition, and becoming more settled after the adventures in the New World, Reis gets to meet Queen Elizabeth I. But despite the important status of his Master, Joachim still faces anti-Semitic prejudices that nearly get him imprisoned. Joachim decides to return to his native land of Bohemia, where his talents as a metallurgist and a learned man are appreciated. Reis is an English boy, born and bred, and wants to live in the countryside, working on the horse farm of a wealthy gentleman, building a new life for himself. The two part ways, but still keep in touch, Joachim's knowledge and quiet nature helping Reis on his journey to manhood.
Joachim: The Heretic by M.L. Stainer is a fast paced narrative of historical fiction. It showcases viewpoints not often explored in the genre such as Joachim's stoic outlook in the face of vile prejudice and Reis' growth into manhood under Joachim's steady influence. Both have qualities that transcend the time period and can be applied to our own. Joachim embodies the tenets of his faith very well. I did feel that there was a bit more telling than showing so often it felt like I was witnessing the recounting of a tale instead of being immersed in the hopes and dreams of the characters. Still it is a commendation to Stainer's prowess as a storyteller that he is able to keep the reader's attention. I think any fan of historical fiction will enjoy Joachim: The Heretic. It is the type of book easily read in one sitting.