Author: Kevin Hearne
Release Date: Today! (8/25/20)
My rating: 4.3 stars
Few humans are aware that the fae and other magical beings not only exist, but also enjoy coming to visit and wreck havoc in our modern world. The rare humans who are in the know work with the magical world to keep it that way, and to keep the humans safe in their beds. By using ink made from complicated recipes, the human agents can create sigils, which is basically like doing a spell, but they need to be written down & prepared properly in advance. After his apprentice’s untimely death, Al, an Irish sigil agent, discovers that his apprentice had been trafficking magical beings to an unknown third party, possibly for scientific experimentation. It’s now his job to clean up the mess.
Al is one of the most interesting heroes I’ve ever met. He’s not big and brawny or young and brash. He’s a middle aged man, closer to aged than middle, who’s been at this job for many years. He bears a curse that causes anyone to whom he speaks with too often to hate him. Luckily, there are text to voice apps that he can use, although the discovery of his curse came too late to save some of his dearest relationships. Al is great at his job, but he doesn’t run around like a spring chicken farmboy hero. He’s methodical and thorough, true to his age. He’s also very Irish, which adds plenty of spicy flavors. He’s kind of like Gandalf, but a more human one that we can relate to. He’s not the usual cliched hero, and he’s all the more interesting for it.
The writing style here was more complex than the typical modern easy to read prose. Not that it was a drudge to read. It was very well written, but it’s the kind of book that you need a moment to get used to its deeper and satirical style and slower pace before you’re fully absorbed. It works very well in this book, but I also found myself constantly switching in and out every other chapter between reading other, more fast paced books. Still, it was far from boring, and while it took me a long time to finish, I kept coming back to it. It was easy to remember and enjoyable to return to.
The setting and dialect are very Irish. The writing uses an Irish spelling and most characters speak with that accent, spelled out the way it sounds, so I came away from the book thinking in Irish. It was nicely done, although it takes a chapter or two to get used to and to better understand it. Once you do, it’s fun and immersive, and hey, it’s fun to try speaking that way in everyday conversations.
As with any proper hero, Al has a sidekick team, consisting of his bookkeeper/manager/war-seer, a lady I totally want to meet, and a mischievous hobgoblin. The sigil magic system is pretty cool. That and the world building were very well done. For all I know, there really are fae and other beings running around Earth, bound by contracts with the local sigil agent. The plot is a nice mix of action and investigative work and some cool magic sigil exploits. I haven’t read any other books by this author, but now I’m eager to read his other series.
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.