We don’t do it all that often – we can’t afford it – but we pre-ordered this one as soon as we heard it was coming out. We are both solid fans of Kevin Hearne’s writing – see my review of Hounded – Book 1 of the Iron Druid series, which I read all the way through and have been quietly mourning its loss since it ended. Life has just been a tad emptier since Atticus and his hound Oberon stopped their adventures. Though I also thoroughly enjoyed the clever and ambitious Seven Kennings series – see my review of A Plague of Giants. So would I also enjoy this spinoff from the Iron Druid series?
BLURB: 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.
REVIEW: Let’s get one issue out the way – you don’t have to know anything at all about the Iron Druid series, or have first read the books to enjoy this one. It’s an essentially a standalone, with a specific scene added for those of us pining for Atticus and Oberon. So don’t let that consideration get in the way of you acquiring this one.
It’s a packet of fun. I loved the fact that Al is in his mid-sixties and a widower. I am aware that the average hero and heroine are fit young things, full of vim and vigour – but I hadn’t realised just how much that affected their worldview, until I plunged into this adventure alongside dear old Al. He is thoroughly likeable protagonist with plenty of quirks and eccentricities, but the amount of fun between him and a certain naughty hobgoblin is great and helps to leaven the rather sombre subject of kidnapping and trafficking. Humour is always a hit and miss affair, and mostly I chuckled my way through this book – though for some reason, I got a bit fed up with Al’s hacker friend insisting on being called Saxon Codpiece…
Overall, I really enjoyed the story which was well paced, full of action and yet not too full-on to skimp on effectively establishing the main characters – a balance that is harder to achieve than Hearne makes it look. I also loved the magic system, where human Al is given leave to help the Fae by use of magical sigils that are achieved by the spells being sealed through specific inks. It worked well – and this being Hearne, there was also some humour to be had with some of those inks, too. Overall, this was a solid delight and I’m very much looking forward to reading more about Al and his adventures – particularly that curse he’s afflicted with… Highly recommended for fans of quirky urban fantasy adventures featuring eccentric characters.
This is one of my left over August books that I didn’t get to, so I should definitely pick it up now! Thanks for convincing me😁
Glad to be of service… I hope that you love it:))
Yay! Your cover is slightly different and I love that you and the Mister both love Hearne. Yes, you must try his books on audio. I am sure the library has them.
I’ve got an audible account, so I’ll treat myself to this one, I think:))
This sounds like a brilliant read, Sarah! I will definitely check out the Iron Druid series too! 😀
I’m really fond of the Iron Druid series – unlike most long-running urban fantasy series, it doesn’t continue to get ever darker. And Atticus and Oberon are such fun together.
I like the fact that Ink & Sigil has started so strongly and look forward to finding out more about Al and that curse of his:)
Al definitely sounds like a wonderful protagonist! 😄
He’s delighteful – and it’s such a refreshing change to see issues and problems unspool from the viewpoint of a sixty-something, who isn’t particularly enhanced or rejuvenated in any way…
It does get a little boring when so many protagonists are twenty somethings with a somewhat fresh, clean slate!
That’s right! And he has a steadying perspective with I also can relate to…
This kind of unique hero is the main reason I will add the book to my TBR one of these days…
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
You’re welcome, Maddalena. I knew I’d enjoy the journey, but found Al even more endearing than I’d hoped:))
I was happy to have a little Atticus and Oberon fix 🙂
Oh, me too:)))
I have a copy of this one and can’t wait to dive in. Such a fun author.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this one, Lynn. It’s such a nice change having a protagonist in this age range – he’s also delightfully quirky and yet, vulnerable…
I’m going to be rereading Hounded for COYER this month but that’s the only one I’ve read. I have started collecting them and own a few. It’s good to know this is a good start to something new. Kevin Hearne is a hoot in person. I met him at NOLAStorycon in 2016.
And now I’m GREEN with envy! I’m guessing that he must been great fun as a person, because that comes across in his writing:)). I hope you enjoy your reread – I love the Iron Druid series, which doesn’t go on getting darker as it progresses, unlike so many others…