Al MacBharrais is an elderly Scotsman serving as a sigil agent for the First of the Fae, while training an apprentice to carry on after he retires. The death of that apprentice uncovers a sinister plot, and Al gathers a cast of unusual and talented people to hunt down the perpetrators.
With his newest book, Ink & Sigil, NYT bestselling author Kevin Hearne brings his unique flavor of storytelling and wicked sense of humor to a familiar world – his version of Earth from the Iron Druid Chronicles. Readers don’t have to be acquainted with Hearne’s previous books, however, to delve into this one. It’s a fresh story from a different point-of-view – elderly Scotsman named Aloysius MacBharrais. And if that name is a bit of a mouthful to you, Hearne addresses the name and a few other pronunciations in his opening Author’s Note.
Luckily, the main character goes by the name Al, and though the dialogue feels Scottish and immersive, the writing itself is smooth as silk and flows beautifully. That is quite an accomplishment when you throw Fae creatures into Modern Day Scotland and sprinkle some foul language, impish humor, and current events. For while this could be characterized as humorous urban fantasy, it still reaches out to touch on a very real issue in our world that needs to be addressed: human trafficking.
Using the guise of fiction, Ink & Sigil asks readers to rethink how they view victims of human trafficking while showing us both realistic and Fae examples. Hearne offers additional resources in his Acknowledgements. Hearne also discusses resources for Ink making, which is a key piece of the story and far more fascinating than I’d imagined. While inks and sigils are integral to the story, it wouldn’t be as impactful or delightful without Aloysius MacBharrais. He is an endearing character.
I devoured this book in less than a day and not only pre-ordered my own copy with a signed bookplate, but preordered the audiobook, too. I hope to see more books featuring Al in the future. Kevin Hearne is easily one of my favorite authors, and I enjoy his Twitter feed, too.
Ink & Sigil book design credit: Caroline Cunningham.
Ink & Sigil art direction credit: David Stevenson.
Ink & Sigil jacket design & illustration credit: Sarah Coleman.
I also purchased the audiobook version for my collection via Audible.
Audiobook narrated by Luke Daniels.