Saturday, August 22, 2020

ARC Review: Ink & Sigil by Kevin Hearne

Ink & Sigil
Author: Kevin Hearne
Publication: Del Rey (August 25, 2020)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: This story introduces Al MacBharrais who is a sigil agent. Sigil agents use special, magical ink to create sigils which have magical effects. Sigil agents are also the ones who write the contracts that keep beings from the nine magical realms from having free reign on Earth. 

Al is an older man who is a grieving widower and who is under a curse. Anyone who hears his voice also begins to hate him. So he uses his phone and computer's speech apps to do his talking for him. 

Al also has a problem with his apprentices. When the story begins, he is informed of the death of his seventh apprentice who fell victim to eating a raisin scone. Al has lost all of his apprentices to a series of freak accidents. 

As he looks into his apprentices death and also goes to the scene to gather up all of his special inks and pens before someone might accidentally use them, he learns that his apprentice wasn't quite what he had thought. In fact it looks like Gordie was trafficking in fae for some unknown purpose. When Al arrives at his apartment, he discovers that Gordie had captured a hob and was planning to sell him. Hiding the hob from the police is not a trivial task even with his magical sigils. D I Munro should have had her memory wiped but she still remembers bits and pieces and finds Al very suspicious.

Al isn't alone in his investigation. His office manager Nadia is also a battle seer and he is friends with a hacker who goes by the name of Saxon Codpiece. The hob who names himself Buck Foi also becomes one of his partners in this enterprise. Together they find themselves looking into suspicious government agencies and evil scientists as they try to stop the trafficking in fae.

The story is filled with humor but also includes a number of more serious issues like human trafficking. I enjoyed Al's character with his cursed loneliness and grief, well-tended mustache, love of designer gin, and determination to do the right thing even though he isn't totally against stealing already stolen money.

Favorite Quote:
[I can use it for lots of things, sure. But there are people who can find what you need faster than an old man pecking around a search engine.]

"Yeah? Who?"

I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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