Book Review | Paper and Blood by Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne returns to the world of the Iron Druid Chronicles in book two of a spin-off series about an eccentric master of rare magic solving an uncanny mystery in Scotland.

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.

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How was it?

It seems like the banter is the main driving force of this story; it works at times, there’s even a few memorable quotes and pearls of wisdom in there but that’s about it. The adventure we go on this time around seemed mysterious and exciting but kind of fell flat in the end. If it weren’t for the innuendos behind some of these jokes, I’d swear this was a so-so middle grade book.

As much as I love re-entering the world of the Iron Druid Chronicles, I don’t remember it being so…underwhelming is not the right word, I guess I’m whelmed. It almost makes me doubt my fond memories of the main series. It’s the same lavish, mystical world building with Al MacBharrais having his own interesting way of using magic – through ink sigils on paper – and yet I’m hardly captivated or excited by what I’m reading. I wasn’t bored at least the book has that going for it but I’m frustrated because the way the inks and sigils work are great, the little backstories on how they’re made is interesting, and Al’s group of friends/employees are awesome – Nadia in particular. There’s also a strong supporting appearances of three, well four characters from the Iron Druid and it didn’t help as much as I thought it would. I still feel like these characters’ potential is not fully realized but I still have hope.

I may have preordered this book before reading Ink & Sigil but I’d still give a shot to the following book in the series, in hopes that the first two were intro and filler episode before a grand finale or a thrilling new entry.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Paper & Blood is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

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