This is a sequel to Ink & Sigil, which I read and reviewed last year. While there will be no spoilers for this book, there may be some from book one. You have been warned.
Paper & Blood by Kevin Hearne
Publication Date: August 10, 2021
Summary from NetGalley:
There’s only one Al MacBharrais: Though other Scotsmen may have dramatic mustaches and a taste for fancy cocktails, Al also has a unique talent. He’s a master of ink and sigil magic. In his gifted hands, paper and pen can work wondrous spells.
But Al isn’t quite alone: He is part of a global network of sigil agents who use their powers to protect the world from mischievous gods and strange monsters. So when a fellow agent disappears under sinister circumstances in Australia, Al leaves behind the cozy pubs and cafes of Glasgow and travels to the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria to solve the mystery.
The trail to his colleague begins to pile up with bodies at alarming speed, so Al is grateful his friends have come to help—especially Nadia, his accountant who moonlights as a pit fighter. Together with a whisky-loving hobgoblin known as Buck Foi and the ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, along with his dogs, Oberon and Starbuck, Al and Nadia will face down the wildest wonders Australia—and the supernatural world—can throw at them, and confront a legendary monster not seen in centuries.
Arc provided by Random House via NetGalley for an honest review.
As much as I enjoyed this book, I was also a bit disappointed in it. But that is totally on me. I was just expecting a totally different book, which kind of confused me and interfered a bit with my enjoyment as well. Also, Buck, the hobgoblin, sort of just annoyed the hell out of me in this one. But as sequels go it was still pretty good.
I am still enjoying Al MacBharris and think he is a wonderful character. I liked that he can do superhero type stuff while still just being an old Scotsman with a great mustache. The superhero stuff is totally magical and does eventually wear off, but Al uses it only when needed. He also has such a kind soul and is pretty smart when it comes to the politics of the Fae.
As I mentioned, part of my disappointment with this story was with how annoying I found Buck in this book. I can’t quite put my finger on why his character got to me this time, but I mostly just wanted him to go away. Also there is a story he tells at one point in the book that I found totally pointless to the plot as a whole, and it just went on way too long. I think most of this is totally on me this time as I did like him in the first book.
I really liked that we got to see a bit more of some of the characters in the first book, like Gladys who has seem some shite, Al’s receptionist in his legit business, and Nadia has some developments into her character as well. Looking forward to finding out some more about these two eventually.
Then there is Atticus or Connor as he goes by now. His part in the story is crucial, but I missed seeing things from his point of view and hearing the conversations between him and Oberon. Ultimately this story ended up being a bit about Atticus and his acceptance of what had happened to him at the end of the Iron Druid Chronicles. Which on the one hand was good, but not where I thought the story was going to go.
The story itself was good. I enjoyed learning more about the history of the sigil agents and why they were created. Also the differences between the eastern and western sigils. The setting of the Australian outback added a nice flavor to the story as well. The creatures they encountered there were interesting and hard to wrap my head around at times. They were chimeras and sometimes the combinations of animals were hard to imagine.
Overall, this was a satisfactory story in this series, even if it wasn’t what I was expecting. I really want to learn more about Al’s curse and have that whole issue resolved, which is what I thought this book was going to be about. There isn’t any indication of another book coming anytime soon, but I am really hoping there will be. There were a lot of loose ends at the end of this book that I really want to see resolved.