A young man comes of age under the tutelage of his astrologer uncle in ASTROLOGER’S APPRENTICE

by David John Jaegers

Verdict: There is a charming coming-of-age story in ASTROLOGER'S APPRENTICE, but it needs some trimming and editing to shine.

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A young man comes of age under the tutelage of his astrologer uncle, but must decide whether or not to follow him on his quest to prove astrology’s scientific validity.

ASTROLOGER’S APPRENTICE is the first in The Astrotheologian Series, involving young Robert and his relationship with his Uncle Rufus, a former physics teacher and current sheep farmer and astrology maven who’s writing a book about heaven. Fascinated by Uncle Rufus’s astrological and theological ideas, he gets caught up in his plans to scientifically test astrology – but runs into some ethical qualms.

There is potential in this book, and some moments of sweetness and beauty, but on the whole, it’s like trying to find a topiary in a large, overgrown hedge, and the author could really stand to pull out the pruning shears here. Quite a lot of the book is taken up with loving attention to trivial details that do set up some pretty scenery, but do nothing to further the plot.

The author, like Rufus, also has a tendency to dodge some troubling questions about astrology – for example, why a physics teacher speaks reverently of the constellations as if they were real entities rather than human-imagined pictures between unrelated stars, billions of light-years apart, or how he gets so many teenagers to follow him as awed disciples rather than showing any sign of normal teenage skepticism.  The secret, hush-hush, James-Bond-style project that Rufus gets lured into is probably meant to be dramatically, thrillingly dangerous – but it mainly inspires unintentional giggles. There is the seductive Frenchwoman, the mysterious passwords, the secret meetings in undisclosed locations, backers with big bucks and great visions…all in service of scientifically testing astrology. Somewhat anticlimactic, to say the least. Especially since it can’t possibly succeed in its goal, to prove the validity of astrology to the scientific community and the world, without publicly discussing and exposing all of its most secretive aspects, and a scientist like Rufus should know that.

The coming of age story, involving Robert growing up, finding friendships and relationships, and discovering what he wants to do in life, is warm and sympathetic. However, like Robert himself, the author has a tendency to sound analytical when an emotional response is more appropriate, as in “You and I are metaphysically inclined, and I am bound by that fact to process your concerns”. He also seems somewhat uncomfortable writing sex scenes – the one in the book feels as though it was written by someone who read, but did not thoroughly understand, Harlequin romances. “She pulled back the covers, laid out flat in the center of the bed, motioned for Robert to drop his drawers, and began to softly moan.”

There is a charming coming-of-age story in ASTROLOGER’S APPRENTICE, but it needs some trimming and editing to shine.

~Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader

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