Monday, August 17, 2020

Ink & Sigil (Ink & Sigil, #1) by Kevin Hearne

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Al MacBharrais is both blessed and cursed. He is blessed with an extraordinary white moustache, an appreciation for craft cocktails – and a most unique magical talent. He can cast spells with magically enchanted ink and he uses his gifts to protect our world from rogue minions of various pantheons, especially the Fae.

But he is also cursed. Anyone who hears his voice will begin to feel an inexplicable hatred for Al, so he can only communicate through the written word or speech apps. And his apprentices keep dying in peculiar freak accidents. As his personal life crumbles around him, he devotes his life to his work, all the while trying to crack the secret of his curse.

But when his latest apprentice, Gordie, turns up dead in his Glasgow flat, Al discovers evidence that Gordie was living a secret life of crime. Now Al is forced to play detective – while avoiding actual detectives who are wondering why death seems to always follow Al. Investigating his apprentice’s death will take him through Scotland’s magical underworld, and he’ll need the help of a mischievous hobgoblin if he’s to survive.

"It had raisins in it, so that was bloody daft, as raisins are ill-omened abominations and he should have known better."
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Ink & Sigil by Kevin Hearne was a damn delight! The characters were well-developed and had some of the best personalities. It's been ages since a book made me laugh this much! Al is in his 60's and I absolutely adored him, Buck Foi is my new favorite hobgoblin, and Nadia is someone I want to be besties with (she's hilarious and can kick some serious ass). The world-building was complex without being confusing, and I cannot wait to dive back into this series in the future. Thank you, Kevin Hearne for delivering an epic story with dirty jokes, unrepentant magical creatures, and weird wizard vans. ;)

I also enjoyed the author's not-so-subtle references to the current world we live in, regarding things like phones and politics. They were relevant without feeling forced. A few examples:
  1.  "How much magic and wonder was missed while people were distracted by something flickering on their screens?"
  2.  "Most of the time such news just bounced off them, the way horrific shite about a candidate bounces off a party’s faithful because they can’t face the fact that they voted for a monster and they may in fact be monsters themselves. Easier to just deny it all, call it fake news. No introspection required."
I thought the mystery was interesting, if a bit underwhelming (just the teeniest tiniest bit). It didn't take long for Al to discover who was likely behind the fae trafficking, but it did take him a while to unravel the messy situation. He had to travel and hunt down specific people, do a lot of investigating (while drinking quality beer, whisky, and gin), and solve a problem without actually solving it. It was like putting a band aid on a broken leg, so maybe the problem will be revisited in the future. I know there wasn't much he could've done against his potential adversary, but I wish there had been more conflict on the fey side of things.

I loved the Avatar: The Last Airbender and Lord of the Rings references, and how excited Buck was when he discovered them for the first time. Nadia makes a comparison towards the end that had me laughing despite the seriousness of their situation. 

The language was a bit tricky for me even with the author's help at the start. Hearne tries to explain how certain words are pronounced (in a very humorous way), but it wasn't always easy for me to remember them as I was reading, and I didn't want to keep dragging my e-ARC back to the beginning. I think Ink & Sigil would make one hell of an audiobook though! I know I butchered a lot of the words, but a narrator would likely do a much better job (therefore increasing a person's overall enjoyment of the story). Unless you're already familiar with a Weegie accent! 

Illegal pit fights, trolls, sigils - - there's no shortage of fun and entertaining material in this book! I'm very interested in Al's particular curse(s) and really wanted more information on their origins before the book's conclusion. Unfortunately, we just learn a little more about what they do instead of who actually put them there or why. I have a feeling it will be addressed later on down the road, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that particular thread plays out (especially now that Buck's life is intertwined with Al's, and I'm already super attached to the thieving trickster). 

If you're looking for something new to read, Ink & Sigil was a blast and a half! Mad scientists, secret government facilities, modified fey, and a fantastic fantasy with no romance whatsoever (looking at you, Chuckles), this book is easily a new favorite! I'm happy I had an opportunity to read it. (★★★★⋆)

Additional quotes I liked:
  1. "Live long enough and people from your past will echo, calling back to you years after they have left you behind."
  2. "Five stars for defying expectations and coming out swinging with the batshite.”


  1. I just finished this one! It was so much fun. :)

  2. This sounds like such a fun read. I love that cover too!

    1. The cover is amazing! I really had fun with this book and its characters. <3

  3. I've only read one Kevin Hearne book but I really liked it. And I always love finding a good new fantasy series. This sounds like it checks off a lot of awesome boxes. :)

    1. It checked ALL of my boxes (except for romance)! However, there is a lady he fancies, but it's a ridiculously small portion of the story. He's still grieving the loss of his wife, and he has sooo much more to deal with right now. :)

  4. I LOVE Kevin's writing style and I'm chomping at the bit to read this. Your review has brought it to the forefront again. BUT. I want to finish The Iron Druid Chronicle first. I'm so glad that you think it'll be worth the wait, Lindsi.

    1. This was my first book by the author, but I definitely want to go back and read more! Loved it! I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did whenever you get a chance to read it. <3

    2. I highly recommend listening to the iron druid chronicle, Luke Daniels is an amazing narrator!

  5. I really want to read this as soon as the paperback is released! I loved the Iron Druid series and this sounds like my kind of read!

    1. No romance! Doesn't that make you happy? ;) A great fantasy story with little-to-no romantic relationships. As I mentioned to Greg a moment ago, he does fancy a woman, but it's a very small aspect of the story. He's also in his 60's, and I thought he was adorable. ;)


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“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless