Cover Image: Ink & Sigil

Ink & Sigil

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Member Reviews

Ink & Sigil is the first of it's series, but not the first in this universe.  It shares the universe of the Iron Druid Chronicles (which is a series I adored).  In this shared universe we meet our protagonist Al MacBharrais, who is a Sigil Agent who protects humans from the fae, by making the fae sign binding contracts to stay out of human business.  Al also has to deal with the mystery of a curse placed on his head, that makes speaking to people, eventually turn against him.  So he has to use his phone to communicate with everyone.

I really enjoyed the characters of Al and Nadia. they were very engaging to read and they had a great chemistry.  There was a whole section at the beginning of the book about the Scottish (specially Glasgow/Weegie) accent that is used throughout the book.  I'm usually weary of long pronunciation guides, but I found the dialogue very easy to follow, and it didn't bother me at all.  I found the plot interesting, but felt it might have been a mistake to set this story in the same world as the Iron Druid Chronicles, because I wanted more crossover in this first installment of this book.

Overall I highly recommend for fans of Hearne and for those looking for a great urban fantasy to pick up.
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Really enjoyed this!! I don't usually enjoy vernacular, often it feels demeaning and cliche, but in this case it was done very well and added a lot of local flavor in a nice way. I also enjoyed that the protagonist wasn't a young, gorgeous diva. The storytelling was more sincere than I was expecting, at least regarding the protagonist. The storytelling is very skillful and just carries you along. Nothing too bleak or tragic, a satisfying conclusion, and overall a great read.
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Ink & Sigil is an enjoyable fantasy for the great world-builder Kevin Hearne. Al MacBharrais is our narrator hero, a sigil agent, one of only five sigil agents in the world and he has trouble. His apprentice died choking on a raisin in his scones. It’s clear to everyone that eating a scone with raisins is deliberately risking death, so no one is particularly surprised. However, why is it that all his apprentices die in accidents.

Al rushes to make sure all evidence of sigiling is removed before the police see what they should not. After all, part of his job as a sigil agent is keeping humans unaware of the several planes of existence sharing our world He has a hand ID card stacked with sigils that make sure people do what he says and forget they saw him, so he is able to clean up the abundance of special ink, paper, and sigils. But there’s also a hobgoblin in a cage. What does that mean?

Al discovers his apprentice has been trafficking in fae creatures, bringing them from their plane to ours and selling them to some mysterious buyer named Bastille. Joining him in his investigation of this trafficking are his office manager-accountant/enforcer Natalie, Buck Foi the hobgoblin, and a handy hacker as well as various friends and associates.

Ink & Sigil is a romp of a book but not for the young, just reverse the letters of Buch Foi’s name and you will understand the delightful trove of profane and obscene insults that season this book. It’s spicy. In a way, this is an introductory book to a new series, because Al has a deep and dangerous mystery to solve and this is only the beginning.

Ink & Sigil will be released on August 29th. I received an e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley.

Ink & Sigil at Del Rey | Penguin Random House
A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
A Blight of Blackwings by Kevin Hearne
Kevin Hearne author site
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This story started with a slow quick fuse that quickly exploded into a fun, entertaining adventure.

A new series that  takes place in the same universe as the author’s Iron Druid Chronicles  with new characters and new adventures.  If you love the Iron Druid like me  you will love this old man!

Aloysius “Al” MacBharrais is a Sigil Agent.  One of  five such people in the world who were given the power to create  sigils from special ink by the goddess Brigid .  These sigils are a kind of magic that can be  used for both offensive and defensive purposes and the sigil agents are tasked with using their abilities to maintain the  supernatural.
 Al’s apprentice dies by choking to death on a raisin  scone, and he  isn’t  convinced it isn’t really an accident. Perhaps because his previous six apprentices have also all died in various accidents. His investigation leads him to a fey smuggling ring and it looks like his apprentice was involved.  Hijinks abound from there. 

 The character of Al MacBharrais is well-developed in this first book along with his sigil craft and several of his closest friends and allies.  Humor and a great story await!

Recommended. Keven Hearne fans will not be disappointed.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a free ARC in return for an honest review (less)
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I've been anticipating this novel since I saw it mentioned by Holly Hearts Books on YouTube.  High fantasy with innovative world building and dialog. Great characters that are easy to love. The story has an intriguing magic system with dark themes and elements of humor.  It was easy to stay interesting in the story. Enjoyable read, I recommend this one! Thank you NetGalley for allowing mevto review this wonderful book
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A few posts ago, I stated that I'd had several books I DNF because they just weren't of my interest.  Normally I've been the person who finishes a book no matter how uninterested I am.  However, with so many books to read and with so little time, I gotta keep moving.

The Subjects - I read about halfway through the book and realized I didn't know what was going on.  Then I decided it was time to stop.

Nightshade - Within about 20 pages, I knew it wasn't the book for me.  The writing seemed all over the place, and nothing was holding me.  So then I read another 20 pages - or tried to - and knew I had to move on.

Ink & Sigil - This is the one I was most hopeful for of the three DNF.  It seemed pretty good at first.  A little bit of Highland folklore and Scottish culture.  But then, like the other two, I found myself disinterested.  There's just too many things to be doing then hanging on to a book you're not interested in.

Oh well.  On to the next ones.

2/5 Stars
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I was so delighted to learn that Hearne was going back to the Iron Druid world. I loved the humor, friendship, and the way mythology was brought to life in a contemporary world. In Ink & Sigil, we enter the world of Aloysius MacBharrais, a sigil agent on the hunt to discover who has been killing off his apprentices. But while investigating his apprentice’s death, Al must avoid the actual investigators who seem very suspicious about the number of deaths that seem to follow in Al’s wake. With a hobgoblin as an unlikely ally, Al must navigate the dark underbelly of Scotland’s magical underworld. 

Reading a Kevin Hearne novel is always a wild ride. He is able to deftly blend bawdy humor, magical duels, and imaginative world building into a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience. It has the fun and warmth in creating a found family but also the danger and mystery that surrounds Al’s sigil magic. Secret societies, magical creatures, lots of delicious sounding boozy drinks, and an interesting blend of characters make for a fast paced and exciting read.  

Al was a very interesting character. Bearing a curse that causes anyone who hears his voice to fiercely hate him, Al spends much of his time communicating through a text to speech on his phone. He’s also in his 60s and has all the limitations that come with living a dangerous life for most of your 60 years. He is able to surround himself with loyal friends and employees and takes their loyalty seriously.  Nadia, his business manager and battle seer, keeps up his public  image as a printshop owner during the day and helps him coordinate with hackers and other, slightly illegal characters, at night. The story behind their first meeting is quite the adventure I really love how creative Hearne can be. 

There’s also a wonderful little hobgoblin that finds himself caught up in all of Al’s adventures I loved how hilarious their interactions were.
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4 stars

You can read all of my reviews at NerdGirlLovesBooks.

This is a creative, funny, action-packed fantasy about an elderly sigil agent that can craft magical spells using special inks and symbols.

I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't yet read any of the The Iron Druid Chronicles. I have them all and intend to do so, I just haven't had the time. That said, if you have not read them either, you can still read and enjoy this book. I'm sure that I perhaps didn't fully appreciate certain references because I had not read them, but I didn't feel lost while reading this book.

Al MacBharrais is blessed with a fantastic white moustache. He also has a curse on his head that anyone that his hears voice long enough will developed a deep-seated hatred for him. He must therefore communicate in writing or by using a phone app. Al is a sigil agent - one of only five in the world. Al has tried to train a new sigil agent to take his position for when he can no longer perform his duties, but his apprentices have a habit of dying in freak accidents. His latest apprentice, Gordie, recently died, leaving Al in a predicament.

Al discovers that Gordie had been participating in a secret life of crime and it's up to Al to get to the bottom of it while avoiding detectives that wonder why Al's apprentices keep dying. He is aided in his investigation by his office manager/ enforcer and a wisecracking, mischief-making hobgoblin named Buck Foi.

The book is set in Glasgow, and the characters speak in wonderful Scottish accents that make it fun to imagine what they would sound like while you read. (Sadly, my Scottish accent is atrocious) As always, the author does a wonderful job of worldbuilding and the characters jump off the page. I could picture each one in my mind's eye, and imagine their expressions as they interact with each other.

I'm not a huge fan of urban fantasies, but because of the superb writing, I didn't mind it here. The story was entertaining and there was just enough of "other worldliness" that balanced out the urban setting. Having only read the author's The Seven Kennings book series, it was fun to read something a bit lighter from him. I just hope that this new series doesn't prevent him from writing more Seven Kennings books, because I have GOT to know what happens next!

Kevin Hearne is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend you read it.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.
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Al MacBharrais lives in a world of different creatures, deities, and spirits. He is an old sigil agent with a wonderful moustache and a taste for good gin. The story begins when Al finds Gordie, his seventh apprentice, has choked to death on a raisin. All his other apprentices also died suddenly in various accidents. But Al discovers a lot more in Gordie’s apartment, a hobgoblin in a cage, sigils Al had not yet taught Gordie, and rare ink ingredients Gordie should not have. This is the start of a wonderful mystery; who is secretly teaching Gordie and helping him find rare ingredients for inks, and why did Gordie capture a fairy and a hobgoblin to sell?

Al has been under a curse that causes people to hate him after listening to Al talk for an extended period. He uses a device that allows him to type in the words and then have them played back in an electronic voice. He also depends on his magical sigils to help him get around and Nadia, his business manager, who is also battle seer. Having a hobgoblin living with him is tricky, but works with careful planning.

I loved the characters in this book, they were all so different and quirky. Having much of the dialogue in a Glasgow accent (who knew there were different accents in Scotland?) made the story extra fun. And the book cover, amazing. I’d love to have a framed copy to hang in my office.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGallley through Random House Publishing Group and this is my honest review.
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Same humor as Iron Druid, but lacks the pacing.

I'm a huge fan of Kevin Hearne and devoured the Iron Druid Chronicles, so when I picked up Ink & Sigil, that's what I was expecting. The wit, the cynicism, the pacing of a modern tale of adventure. It wasn't, but let me explain.

Al is an interesting character, cursed with the ability to make anyone hate him if he speaks, and blessed with the ability to work a spell with ink. And when his apprentice shows up dead, he uncovers unsavory aspects of his life, which throws us into the main plot of the mystery, and Al working to find out the who behind the why.

Each component of the story was interesting enough, but I didn't find myself entirely smitten with it. In comparison to the Iron Druid books, I was left a little unimpressed, but this isn't to say it isn't a GOOD book. It's funny, quirky, has interesting characters with unique traits and flaws. Each character can stand on their own. But for me, something was missing.
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Thank you NetGalley and Balkantinefor a copy of the eArc of Ink & Sigil by Kevin Hearne. My introduction to Hearne was A Plague of Giants and I went on to read A Blight of Blackwings and the Tales of Pell trilogy (co-wrote with Delilah S. Dawson). These books show the range in Hearne's storytelling from epic fantasy to pun-wielding comedic fantasy trope adventure.  I had not read the Iron Druid Chronicles,  the source world for for Ink & Sigil.  

Ink & Sigil adds another layer to Hearne's storytelling that I didn't know was there, urban fantasy.  McBharrius is a Scottish Sigil writer whose apprentices keep dying and he finds his latest apprentice has died while hiding a secret. The apprentice had been luring Fae creatures to our realm and seeking them.  McBharrius must investigate this apprentice's death while evading the police and other Fae creatures.

Hearne's charm and humor are present in this book. While the story stands on its own,  I felt the constant wonder on how it fits into the Iron Druid Chronicles. Of course I want to go back and read those books now.
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★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up) 
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
The biggest challenge to writing about this book is choosing what not to talk about, I really feel like I could go on and on and on about it. Then the pendulum swings to the point I don't say much at all...

Aloysius MacBharrais is a Sigil Agent—one of five on the Earth. They're tasked with preserving the various treaties that supernatural creatures had set up throughout the world to keep the peace and govern the activities of the various pantheons on the mortal plane. They've been equipped with the barest magical tools necessary to get the job done—largely by Brighid of the Tuatha Dé Dannan to make up for the work that her Druid wasn't doing when he was hiding for centuries on end.* Thre's more to it, but that'll work for starters.

* See everything that Atticus O'Sullivan was doing before the first of the Iron Druid Chronicles.

Al has horrible luck when it comes to apprentices, they keep falling prey to accidental death. The most recent is Gordie, who died after choking on a raisin scone. Before I get into things, can I say how wonderful it is to have a magic-user—even an apprentice—die by such mundane means (and you have never, I mean ever, come across this many jokes about raisins or scones in your life)? As Al goes to Gordie's house to clean up all traces of his magic tools, he discovers that Gordie's been up to some pretty dark and criminal stuff right under his nose.

This book takes Al and his associates around Scotland and even to the U.S. finding out just what Gordie was into and trying to set it right.

There are outliers, but largely, Urban Fantasy series deal in variations on a theme—I'm not complaining, I'm into most of them. But basically, you've got a wizard (or something like that), a vampire, and/or a werewolf doing a P.I./Private Security/Hunter thing. There are different kinds of magic users, or vampire types, or were-species, but really, that's about it. Lately, some variations have come from using different kinds of protagonists, like whatever Nell Ingram is or...(I had another example when I started this paragraph), but you get the point.

Here our variation comes in the type of mage—he uses sigils, particular designs in particular (and strange) inks which give a temporary effect to the bearer or beholder. Also, Al's an elderly Scot who wears a derby and has an immaculately-styled mustache. He's about as far from the grizzled hero in a leather jacket/trenchcoat as you can get. Outside of supporting characters or Marley Jacobs from A Key, an Egg, an Unfortunate Remark, you don't see that (outside of characters who are supernaturally old, but appear young) .

Al's associates aren't standard either, but I'm going to resist using 3-4 paragraphs talking about them. I'm just going to say I enjoyed them all and can't wait to spend more time with them.

As indicated above, this takes place in the same universe as The Iron Druid Chronicles, sometime after Scourged and contains references to some of the series' events and characters. Al himself shows up in a short story in Besieged as a minor character.

There's a brief appearance by Atticus and Oberon, and a longer one with Brighid. Both were a lot of fun, and the Atticus one was pretty sweet. I enjoyed seeing Brighid from someone else's point of view. The door is open for more IDC characters to show up, but it's not necessary, which I appreciate.

You do not have to have read the IDC to get into this, and not catching all the allusions/references/cross-overs will not diminish anything for you. It's a spin-off, but isn't dependent on the original.

Al's a Glaswegian and most of the book takes place in and around Glasgow. Hearne made the choice to write all the dialogue (and even Al's first-person narration) in the dialect. Most authors wouldn't have gone this far, and I have to wonder how often Hearne questioned this choice as he wrote—talk about making things hard on yourself. I enjoyed it—and it really helped me "hear" Al and everyone.

While the IDC contained more than it's share of laughs (and even The Seven Kennings had amusing moments), this seemed like a better merging of jokes and story. It feels like a natural outgrowth of The Tales of Pell (but not as humor-focused as those). For sheer enjoyment value, this was fantastic.

The story was pretty strong, too. But a lot of space was devoted to introducing us to this particular corner of the world and the cast of characters. I'd like to see what Hearne does with a novel where he doesn't have to do that.

The world is familiar, yet Hearne's doing something new in it. The characters are just not what you're used to seeing in the genre. The plot was great—and speaks clearly to our current situation. And I laughed a lot. There's little to complain about here and a lot to commend. I had a blast and I think most readers will, too. I can't wait for the sequel.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley in exchange for this post—thanks to both for this.
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First of all, thank you to Del Rey books and Net Galley for an eARC of Ink & Sigil!

I started reading the Iron Druid Chronicles in 2019, and I loved Kevin Hearnes voice and writing style, not to mention the urban fantasy aspects and Celtic mythology woven into these books! Last summer, when he posted photos of him in Scotland researching for a new book, I WAS SO READY.

Ink & Sigil follow Al MacBharrais, a Sigil Agent who has been cursed. Anyone who hears his voice will begin to hate Al. His wife was killed in an accident, his son hates him, and now, his latest apprentice, Gordie, has wound up dead. Al discovers that Gordie had been trafficking fae folk, and as an agent, Al will do everything to get to the bottom of this. 

Like all of Hearne's books, Ink & Sigil has a quirky humor underlying the hwole of the story. I visited Scotland, so I felt a warm appreciation for this book and the cast of characters, and I can't wait to listen to it in audio format! This actually felt more grown-up than Iron Druid. I think it has something ot do with Al as a main character, and if I'm being honest, I don't think I've ever read a book with an older character as the narrator. This was first person, but often times I almost forgot that becuase it reall is so immersive!

This does have a slower pace than the Iron Druid Chronicles, but like the whiskey Al drinks, savor it. Smell it, swirl it, and enjoy. 

Is that weird? Eh, who doesn't sniff books?
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"New York Times bestselling author Kevin Hearne returns to the world of his beloved Iron Druid Chronicles in a spin-off series about an eccentric master of rare magic solving an uncanny mystery in Scotland.

“Ink and Sigil is escape reading, and I loved every word.” - Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author of A Longer Fall.

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."

I don't know if you follow Charlaine Harris's book recommendations like I do, but they are ALWAYS good. So listen to Charlaine and get this book!
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Ink & Sigil (Ink & Sigil #1) by Kevin Hearne was one of my most anticipated books of August and I'm so lucky to have received an ARC via NetGalley. Luckily, it mostly lived up to my sky high expectations. This series is a spin off of The Iron Druid Chronicles which is one of my all time favorites. It's set in the same world as that series and I enjoyed seeing more of the wider world and how our new cast and this series opener connect into it. It's just as funny as that series which is another aspect I was looking forward to as well. I seriously laughed out loud a few times at some of the things Al had to say, or his thought process. I should mention that it's not necessary to have read The Iron Druid Chronicles to understand or fully enjoy this series, but there are some moments like that awesome cameo that would make it all the more entertaining if you had.
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NetGalley ARC.

Al MacBharrais is a Sigil Agent located in Glaswgow, basically a bureaucrat for the Fae planes.  He is doubly cursed.   His apprentices keep dying and anyone who hears his voice feels an inexplicable hatred towards him.  He now communicates through a text to voice app on his phone.  When his latest apprentice chokes on a scone (raisin!), Al discovers that apprentice Gordie was trafficking Fae creatures for unknown purposes.  Al feels like he must get to the bottom of things.  With him is captive Hobgoblin Buck and manager Nadia.  

This book definitely filled the Iron Druid sized hole in my heart.  Both books take place in the same world, but don't expect many cameos, these are definitely two different series.  Al is very methodical in his search.  He researches and makes plans before he acts and he enlists the help of others.  I found myself a lot less frustrated with him than other fantasy protagonists.  The story moved at a nice pace and we got to know all the characters pretty well by the end of the book.  Nadia is an awesome badass and Buck provides great comedy.  I thought Al having to communicate via text to voice was awkward, and this particular curse made me very sad.  I hope he is able to solve the issue in later books.
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Ink & Sigil is a ton of fun! Mysterious deaths, fae, hobgoblins, trolls, government conspiracies, and fantasy all mashed together in a mystery with a satisfying ending. Who could ask for anything more? Highly recommended!
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Ahh, yes. The Iron Druid world. A little bloody, a whole lot crazy, and you never know when you might run into a person of importance or power. In Al's case, they might have importance, power, and they miiiiiight be in the running to punch him in the ribs before calling it a night.

Or...OR they might throw a curse at him and let him sort out the particulars after his world has crumbled around him.

Yeah, Al leads an interesting life. And that's even before he begins to unravel what his most recent apprentice was dabbling in during his spare time. Frankly, Gordie was a massive jerk who deserved everything that raisin did to him and then some.

A gloriously complex world (with a brief appearance by one Iron Druid) with all the insanity you've come to expect when the fae and humans interact. We're talking brawls and fist fights and melees and a straight razor that knows how to leave a mark. And with the mystery of who cursed Al still hanging over his head (along with all the junk that goes along with that particular curse), there's plenty to still be explored.
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A spinoff of The Iron Druid series, which I really enjoyed. Al is a sigil agent for the fae. Contract to be in the Earth realm starts with him. Mysterious deaths, curses, fae trafficking, and a pink hobgoblin. I loved it's snarky wit and a darn fine story. Al will be the aging hero you didn't know you'd want. Book provided by Netgalley.
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A fun addition to the world of the Iron Druid, set in Glasgow, Scotland; that introduces the reader to a whole new world of and style of magic. A subtle lesson or two about the real world is woven into the plot too. Hopefully readers will take to the lesson as well as they should the characters and their version of urban Scotland.
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