Ink and Sigil (Ink and Sigil #1) by Kevin Hearne

My Five Word TL:DR Review : A Good Deal of Fun

InkandI really did have a good time with this one.  The main character feels quite unique, very likeable and definitely quirky.  There’s a great supporting cast and it really is an easy and entertaining set up for what promises to be an excellent series.

This is a spin off from the Iron Druid Chronicles although I would mention that there is no need to have read that series beforehand (although I do recommend it).  Hearne is very good at helping you to settle in and excels at making you feel immediately comfortable with what you’re reading.

Set in Scotland Al MacBharrais is a sigil agent defending the realm against incoming threats from various supernatural creatures.  Using magic ink he creates sigils that can be used for all nature of things varying  in scale and nature.  Al is such a breath of fresh air in the urban fantasy genre.  Over 60, a widower and with a curse that means he has to come up with some creative ways to speak to people as his voice incites anger and eventually leads people to thoughts of murder – he really is quite unique.  I loved the way that Al is able to plan ahead and come up with Sigils to use whilst he’s out and about to help him succeed and, more importantly, survive.

As the story begins Al’s latest apprentice has died in an accident and upon visiting the scene Al stumbles upon something of a mystery.  It seems that Al’s apprentice was dabbling in other, dangerous and seedy endeavours and so an investigation of sorts begins.  In other news, not being the first of Al’s apprentices to die in unusual circumstances this definitely makes Al a ‘person of interest’ as far as the local police are concerned and their own investigation is sure to hamper his endeavours.

Now, I can’t lie, the storyline itself isn’t the strongest part of Ink and Sigil.  The detecting itself is very flooky for instance and the plot does quite a lot of jumping about but, I think Hearne was setting the scene for future instalments and I’m always a little easier going with the first in a new UF series as there is some groundwork to establish. That being said, don’t take away from this that the plot wasn’t good – it just wasn’t what I would consider to be the winning element of the story.

The characters made this for me, especially as I became attached to them with such apparent ease and so early into the book.  I liked Al.  I liked the hobgoblin, Buck, that ends up being his almost constant companion, I really liked Nadine (Al’s office manager) and I thought all the little jaunts to the gin bar to meet different members of the fae were excellent (although they did make me perhaps partake of a few sneaky cocktails on the odd occasion – I simply couldn’t resist).

On top of this I really loved the humour and anything that makes me laugh out loud in the current climate is to be applauded imo.  Okay, some of it can be a little ‘juvenile’ but for me I always feel that Hearne is enjoying himself when he writes and it really comes across well and is infectious.  I was hooked almost immediately and I thoroughly enjoyed myself from intriguing beginning to whacky conclusion.

The setting. As mentioned above this takes place primarily in Scotland although we have various jaunts along the way – not to mention a flight that took a good deal of maneuvering in order to successfully board a hobgoblin onto a plane! There are a few flashbacks that help to provide a picture of just exactly what Al does and in fact how he fell into this field of employment in the first place.  All in all a good feel for the whys and wherefores is easily established.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing much to be honest.  I found that the written scottish dialect slowed me down a little at first but that’s just a minor issue that I quickly got on board with.  The plot is perhaps a little scrappy but at the same time I felt it added to the overall quirkiness of the story somehow.

All in all this was a good deal of fun for me and I wouldn’t hesitate to read more from this series.

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

My rating 4 of 5 stars.