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Fantasy Friday Review – Ink & Sigil

INK & SIGIL by Kevin Hearne

Review by Cyndi J. (cyndij)


This new urban fantasy series from Kevin Hearne takes place in the same universe as his Iron Druid series, but a new reader does not need to have read that to enjoy this one.  That said, it does assume the reader’s familiarity with the Irish gods of the Tuatha De Danann, and there’s definitely references to the events of the Iron Druid series.  The reader won’t be lost without that knowledge, but certainly it adds depth.

Al MacBharrais is a “sigil agent”. He is one of only five humans charged with creating and enforcing contracts that keep the gods of various planes (the metaphysical kind, not aircraft) from popping up on Earth and causing havoc.  He’s been given magical symbols (sigils) that when prepared with special inks, have the power of spells like invisibility, healing, strength and so forth.  Al also has a problem – someone cursed him so that anyone who hears him talk for any length of time will end up hating him. Therefore after a few words he resorts to communicating through text or a voice app on his phone.

As the book opens, Al’s latest apprentice Geordie turns up dead in his flat, having choked on a raisin scone. This is the seventh apprentice Al has lost due to seemingly random accidents. Only it seems Geordie had a little sideline in trafficking magical beings, which is just as abhorrent as trafficking humans. Along with that he had knowledge of sigils and magical ingredients he should not have had. Al ends up with a hobgoblin sidekick named Buck Foi, and the two of them start investigating Geordie’s crimes.  Along the way, we’re introduced to a couple other interesting supporting characters as well. Nadia is an employee of Al’s with magical skills of her own, and there’s Saxon Codpiece the hacker.

Hearne’s Iron Druid series was very successful and he’s succeeded in continuing the same feel with new characters.  The main character has magical abilities and there’s a sidekick who provides comic relief. Hearne has his characters speak in such heavy Scots vernacular there’s a guide at the front to the language, just like the Irish guide in the Iron Druid. There’s a pesky human detective who keeps popping up.

If you’re new to this, or you just couldn’t get enough of the Iron Druid, I think you’ll really like this book. It definitely has the same feel to it.  Al is a sympathetic character (although kind of dense – really, he already knows he’s cursed but he accepts all those “random” deaths?). Nadia is good too, although her one trick is rather limiting.  There’s a lot of action interspersed with funny bits, and Hearne’s usual fan-boy nerdy humor. But for me, this story is just too similar to the previous series. I want something different and not to take that same journey again.  I’ll stop with this first volume.






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