Paper and Blood (Ink and Sigil #2) by Kevin Hearne

Posted On 12 August 2021

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 3 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review: Mixed feelings for this one


Paper and Blood is the second of the Ink and Sigil books by Kevin Hearne.  This is a series that is set in the same world/universe as The Iron Druid Chronicles and is therefore a contemporary setting with infinite supernatural possibilities.

I really enjoyed the first in series, primarily because of the characters.  Al MacBharrais is a blast of well needed fresh air in the urban fantasy genre.  He’s over 60,a widower and also suffering from a curse that prevents him having any real relationships with others, on top of this he’s a sigil agent which means he can wield magic through the use of symbols drawn onto paper with special ink.  There are a number of sigil agents scattered across the world and in this instalment a real threat is posed to Al’s counterpart from Australia who has gone missing.  Al immediately travels to Victoria to investigate and within fairly short order the body count escalates.

Now, I mentioned in my five word review that I had mixed feelings so let me start there.  What this series really has going for it is Kevin Hearne’s fantastic sense of humour.  I’ve written before about this author and the fact that he clearly enjoys himself when he’s writing and this shines through on the page.  His books are always a good deal of fun and he can create lovable characters with apparent ease.  In fact, as I also mentioned above, the characters are what really hooked me in the first instalment.  I also mentioned in my review of book No.1 that the plot felt a little scattered and wasn’t the winning element of the book for me and I think I had similar feelings in the case of Paper and Blood, which to be fair isn’t to say the plot here is bad (because it isn’t) so much that it, again, wasn’t my favourite part of the story.

I liked the setting with Al and his companions travelling through the bush encountering all sorts of creatures and traps as their journey progressed.  There’s an action adventure feel to this one, quick pacing and plenty of skirmishes, but, at the same time, I think I would have preferred to spend more time with Al in his Scottish setting as that’s something I really enjoyed in the first book and missed a little here.

To the characters – which I think was probably one of my main issues with this instalment.  I don’t think it’s a spoiler to mention here that Atticus (of the Iron Druid Chronicles (IDCs) and his two trusty dogs join Al for this encounter.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Atticus very much and his dog Oberon is quite possibly my favourite fictional pooch – but, for me, it felt like Atticus stole the show a little, or more to the point Al seemed to take a back step and felt much flimsier than in the first book.  In fact, in some respects this felt like an attempt to bring some closure to the IDCs, maybe not even closure now I really think about it because it still felt like certain issues remained unanswered. I think what I’m trying to say in a roundabout fashion is that this felt more like a way to bring Atticus back into the picture and whilst I think IDC lovers will enjoy his role here, the fact that new readers didn’t need to be familiar with that particular series felt like a bonus at the time and so this instalment muddies those waters a little in my opinion.

Overall, this is a series that I would like to continue with but I’m hopeful that Al will recapture the feelings he inspired from Ink and Sigil and regain some of the agency that he seemed to lose a little here.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars


3 Responses to “Paper and Blood (Ink and Sigil #2) by Kevin Hearne”

  1. Tammy

    Sorry this didn’t quite live up to the first book, hopefully things will pick up in the next one.

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Oh, I don’t like the sound of this turn! The whole reason I liked the first one so much was because of it’s lack of Atticus lol. He was too much for me in The iron Druid and the whole reason I stopped reading that series. Hearne needs to let Al establish himself on his own before he thinks about bringing IDC back in.

  3. Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Paper and Blood by Kevin Hearne […]

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