Ink & Sigil by Kevin Hearne, published 27 August 2020.
Why haven’t I read any Kevin Hearne before? This was pure Urban Fantasy fun set in Glasgow, Schottland.
Al(oysius) MacBharrais, Scottish sigil agent in his sixties, is the sort of protagonist you seldom read about. The widower and grandfather was cursed in his past, which makes him rely heavily on a text-to-speech app. He has a fancy moustache and defies most cliches about old people. He is the unicorn among UF main characters.
Al is down-to-earth normal. His interactions with his employees, servants, the fairy deities, trolls, other sigil agents, etc are wonderful. The banter is witty and made me chuckle more often that I expected on the outset. Especially the interaction between Al and his hobgoblin servant Buck are often hilarious.
The magic system of specialised sigils written in handmade inks using strange ingredients and special quills and fountain pens is a very inventive and well-thought out, and yet simple way to build this UF world.
The plot was a bit like some of Terry Pratchett’s books. There was some plot: finding who trafficks fairies and why & finding whoever cursed Al all those years ago, but it got dumped under a load of character introductions. Fine by me, since this is the first book in a new series and the characters need to be introduced.
I loved the accent in the dialogue of the book. What was even better was the audiobook! I got it before I was approved a review copy of the book after it was already published. The narrator, Luke Daniels, although an American, which shines through here and there (*cough* iron *cough*), did a very good job handling the different accents of the extensive cast of characters – e.g. Irish, Scottish, American, Australian, Spanish, Chinese, London.
Last bit, as an anglophile: Dear Kevin Hearne, if you know that a Brit says “flat” and an American “appartment”, why does your British/Scottish MC use the words “cell phone” and “subway station” instead of the British words “mobile phone” and “underground station”?
4/5 Goodreads stars
PS: Cowslip reminded me of Matt Haig’s Truthpixie.
TheLadyDuckOfDoom has since also read this book, and liked it very much, just like all the others (she has read everything else by Kevin Hearne). It was not perfect, but TheLadyDuckOfDoom was in a sad mood and could not really enjoy the jokes. But Al was a really enjoyable main character, I love that he is not 20-something and a superhero, but an older person with a lot going on. She’s really looking forward to the next book!