Al MacBharrais is both blessed and cursed. He is blessed with an extraordinary white moustache, an appreciation for craft cocktails – and a most unique magical talent. He can cast spells with magically enchanted ink and he uses his gifts to protect our world from rogue minions of various pantheons, especially the Fae.
But he is also cursed. Anyone who hears his voice will begin to feel an inexplicable hatred for Al, so he can only communicate through the written word or speech apps. And his apprentices keep dying in peculiar freak accidents. As his personal life crumbles around him, he devotes his life to his work, all the while trying to crack the secret of his curse.
But when his latest apprentice, Gordie, turns up dead in his Glasgow flat, Al discovers evidence that Gordie was living a secret life of crime. Now Al is forced to play detective – while avoiding actual detectives who are wondering why death seems to always follow Al. Investigating his apprentice’s death will take him through Scotland’s magical underworld, and he’ll need the help of a mischievous hobgoblin if he’s to survive.
How was it? Having read all of The Iron Druid Chronicles books, this one that takes place in the same world should have been an immediate read but I sat on it. Now that I’ve read it I’m a little underwhelmed.
This story sets up a few mysteries, one of which – the investigation of Al MacBharrais’ latest apprentice’s death – spans the whole book. That mystery could have had a lot of potential but it ends up being quite boring. At no point I got pulled into that mystery, there were no hints or clues that got my mind working. As for the other mystery, meaning who cursed him, there’s little here for me to speculate.
The characters in this book are pretty good, in fact Al and Buck’s relationship have shades of Atticus and Oberon but in all the worse ways. The attempt at humor here is sometimes so dumb that it would either work with pre-teens or not at all. It’s not as sly or funny, I’m down for quirky humor but half the time it doesn’t work in this book. It’s a little too heavy handed.
However, I think this book has some potential – or that’s what I told myself because I pre-ordered and got the second book Paper & Blood before even starting this one.
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