Audiobook Review: Paper & Blood by Kevin Hearne
Note: I split my reading of this book about 70% ebook and 30% audiobook, so I included a review of the narration in this review.
Paper & Blood continues the tale of Al MacBharrais, Sigil Agent for the Tuatha Dé Danann. He has the sometimes dangerous task of keeping the Fae and other creatures inline when visiting the earthly plane. He also continues to deal with two curses that hurt those around him. I love that Al can be a simple Scotsman, but has many layers which make him a fascinating character. I adore how much he cares and the lengths he goes through to protect his found family. Al finds out more about his curses over the course of the book, and he does a lot of pondering about what he is willing to do to end them, especially the one that may kill Buck, his hobgoblin assistant/friend.
Speaking of Buck: he is the BEST! I love his nasty humor and honest take on life. His creation of the Wizard Van and his zooping (you have to read it!) made me laugh out loud. His verbal take down of the bad guy is perfection. Buck is all tall tales and underlying goodness with a morally corrupt surface. I also enjoyed seeing Al work with other Sigil Agents and their apprentices. The idea of the sigils and their agents is a unique and exciting twist to Mr. Hearne’s existing Iron Druid world. And I loved learning more about Gladys Who Has Seen Some Shite and look forward to finding out if Al’s theories are correct.
Overall I enjoyed Paper & Blood. Although knowledge of the Iron Druid Chronicles (IDC) isn’t needed to enjoy the series, this one is much more integrated with the original mythology and characters. I’m torn on my feelings about the extent of the Iron Druid’s (now Connor) interactions (and another character whose presence is a surprise). While I love the original series, I like knowing it had its end. Connor is growing and moving forward, so I’m happy to see him bring closure to some of his outstanding issues. But I do feel his part overshadowed Al at times, and it’s not Connor’s story. The other character from IDC… I am still on the fence and as of now, think it could end up being a wonderful addition to Al’s world.
Narration: Having listened to Luke Daniels perform each book in the IDC, I am more than familiar with his talent creating dozens of accents and voices, bringing Mr. Hearne’s creations to life. For the Ink & Sigil series, Mr. Hearne provides a pronunciation and authentic word guide for readers, and Mr. Daniels uses his talents to translate this authenticity into his performance. The story is shared via first person of Al, a Glasgow Scot, and Mr. Daniels uses this accent for his narrator. Each character’s accent is fine-tuned and unique. He even makes the computer version of Al so realistic. He captures the essence of Mr. Hearne’s characters and makes them more. He fills each with emotion, therefore making the events that much more memorable and real.
Paper & Blood is an entertaining tale; Mr. Hearne is a premiere storyteller. His tales are filled with humor and thoughtful commentary. Al is an interesting protagonist. He’s not supernatural but his sigils allow him to walk in that world. He’s cursed, and now that he understands the extend of the curses is under a time crunch to save Buck. He’s flawed and recognizes this. Yet he’s good and kind and loves his work. In the end, I look forward more Al and Buck.
About the Book:
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.
Author: Kevin Hearne
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Series: Ink & Sigil #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Print/Audiobook Release Date: August 10, 2021
Publisher: Del Rey (Hardcover, 304 pages; ebook); Random House Audio
Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins
Audio Speed: 1.5x
Audible/Amazon (affiliate link)