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.
Book 1 in this series was one of my top 10 reads from 2020, so when I received an email that book 2 was available to ARC, I squealed! This installment did not disappoint.
From Gladys Who Has Seen Some Shite to Buck Foi, the ragtag band of hilarious characters is back to take out another problem that landed at their doorstep uninvited. It’s one wizard van ride you aren’t going to want to miss, unless you don’t want to see some shite. Probably don’t read this book, as it’s full of shite to be seen.
Kevin does a fantastic job at name dropping covid to keep the book solidly in current society, without wasting words to describe the situation. I mean we’ve been living it right? He also, yet again, painted a picture of the setting so perfectly I felt like I was in the bush with the characters. I love his attention to detail without info dumping.
The development of Gladys Who Has Seen Some Shite as a character was unexpected but exactly what the world building needed. Her hilarious appearances made my anticipation for book 3 unbearable! So many questions, not enough answers with this one. I need to know, do Canadians really put maple syrup in their tea?!
This mystery takes us deeper into the world of sigil agents, meeting & exploring the work space of an Australian apprentice, gave so much more depth to the life of an agent, and what Al is missing out on by his apprentices continually dying. It also gives a lot more information on the other worldly creatures/people/beings that Al & gang know of. This really gives weight to how expansive the world building is, and leaves me pondering over all the potential for future books.
Many of the questions from book 1 are answered, but there are a few series long questions that will still linger after finishing book 2. I don’t feel cheated by this, but glad that they will hopefully get their own book, and the attention they deserved, instead of being answered as a side quest.
Every character in the book is well crafted, and has multiple layers to their being. I love that there aren’t clear evil and good lines, but a lot gray and switching of sides potential. It gives more realistic traits to those of a different plane. He does a great job of showing that no two people are the same, and the world is full of variety without beating you over the head with it.
The sigil magic system is masterful, this book builds on book 1 and gives more rules, and short comings of its uses. I love the way it is described during battles, and pretty much everything about how it operates. The thought of parts of it being able to die out with an agents death was terrifying! (great nod to the death of a language.)
This series is riddled with life lessons, and deeper meanings. It shines light on the fact that we are all going through something, and have choices with potential to grow or wallow. I love the introspective nature of the characters, and the open communication. It is always refreshing when books don’t use “if only they spoke to each other” as a way to create intense drama.
Overall, you’ll love this series if you love humorous fantasy with a wide range of fantastical characters. And good dugs, they were very good dugs, and I feel it would be a disservice if I didn’t mention them in the review.
Favorite Quotes without Spoilers:
“It’s like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects a turtle dragon spider.”
“Oi, there’s a metaphor for evil, eh, MacBharrais? Industrial polluters are shitting demons in the creek. Clearcutting forests? Also shitting demons in the creek. And if ye put almond milk in ma coffee, ye’re definitely shitting demons in the creek.”