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.

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November readings | Diving into the Paranormal and Fantasy with a Touch of Contemporary

Title: Time’s Convert
Series: All Souls Universe #1
Author: Deborah Harkness
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy
Page count: 446 (ebook)
Published: 25 June 2019

My review | Get it here

Title: Prince of Death
Series: Lords of the Underworld #1
Author: Sam Burns, W.M. Fawkes
Genre(s): Paranormal, MM, Urban Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Mythology
Page count: 306 (ebook)
Published: 7 March 2019

My review | Get it here

Title: Jon’s Crazy Head-Boppin’ Mystery
Series: Jon’s Mysteries #2
Author: A.J. Sherwood
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery, Crime,
Page count: 204 (ebook)
Published: 5 June 2019

My review | Get it here

Title: Feel the Fire
Series: Hotshots #3
Author: Annabeth Albert
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 264 (ebook)
Published: 26 October 2020

My review | Get it here

Title: Cowbow Easy
Series: Blaecleah Brothers #1
Author: Stormy Glenn
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, MM,
Page count: 123 (ebook)
Published: 20 January 2020

My review | Get it here

Title: How To Elude A Vampire
Series:Vampire Related Crimes #2
Author: Alice Winters
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Crime,
Page count: 336 (ebook)
Published: 16 April 2020

My review | Get it here

Title: The Farmer’s Son
Author: G.A. Hauser
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, MM
Page count: 324 (ebook)
Published: 5 April 2013

My review | Get it here

Title: Prince of Death
Series: Lords of the Underworld #1
Author: Sam Burns, W.M. Fawkes
Genre(s): Paranormal, Mystery, Contemporary, Magic, Romance, Mystery
Page count: 301 (ebook)
Published: 14 November 2019

My review | Get it here

Title: The Spirit Key
Series: Lock and Key #1
Author: Parker Williams
Genre(s): Paranormal, Mystery, Romance,
Page count: 210 (ebook)
Published: 15 January 2019

My review | Get it here

Title: Sorcerous Rivalry
Series: The Mage-Born Chronicles #1
Author: Kayleigh Nicol
Genre(s): Fantasy, Magic, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 270 (ebook)
Published: 7 April 2018

My review | Get it here

Title: Mistress Mage
Series: The Mage-Born Chronicles #2
Author: Kayleigh Nicol
Genre(s): Fantasy, Magic, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 404 (ebook)
Published: 24 September 2018

My review | Get it here

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Tricked | Kevin Hearne

Tricked (The Iron Druid Chronicles #4) by Kevin Hearne published 24 April 2012

Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.
But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.

How was it? Sweet sweet Oberon, Oh have I missed thee.
Tricked isn’t the large scale level event story I expected after Hammered. It’s more of a street level story – the Daredevil to the Avengers if you will – more grounded and tone down. It has greater implications of course but remains lower scale.

Reminiscent of Hounded we learn more about Atticus – his life, relationships, the extend of his power – and the people who surround him. The Iron Druid Chronicles world is expanded to include more information on other gods and pantheons relevant to the story. Tricked also gives a bigger purpose and meaning to A Test of Mettle, which I didn’t see coming. The character interactions are entertaining as ever. Oberon’s constant commentary is gold, the pop culture references are precious, it’s fun and hilarious at times.

Like his apprentice Granuaile, most of the time I forget how old Atticus is – because he acts like an impulsive broey idiot sometimes – but then the enormity of millennias of life struck me at times. There is an emotional depth and a weight to all of his experiences that is showcased here. Hearne navigates Atticus’ regrets and bouts of depression quite well.

However, regarding the lact of permanent consequences for Atticus, that I raised on my previous review. I think it’s funny how it’s only Leif who suffered major consequences for battling and killing a god, when Atticus has a few under his belt but only temporarily lost a few ears.

Also Hearne plants the seeds for a budding romance. Well, there were hints of it before but it’s a bit more in the forefront now; and that might be my least favorite thing about the series.

After Hexed, and mostly Hammered, I was afraid that The Iron Druid Chronicles were losing steam but Tricked restaured my faith it’s a fun read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You can check out or get the book here: US | EU

Hammered | Kevin Hearne

Hammered (The Iron Druid Chronicles #3) by Kevin Hearne published 5 July 2011

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.
One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. Plus things are heating up in his home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plane of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry Norse gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.

How was it? Adding to the fun character interactions and entertaining action scenes. The pop culture references mixed with mythology is another one of the charming thing about the Iron Druid Chronicles. The references seem to shine a little more in Hammered, but with that a few other things started to get more noticeable in the series.

Until now, there wasn’t much details about how some things work in that world. It’s amazing that I didn’t give much thought to these things because before this book I couldn’t have answered some simple questions, for example, how his teas work. I had an idea – which was close enough and it is mentioned in Kaibab Unbound – but I did not have the right answer.

Same could be said about Atticus’ background. I’ve been wondering if in his two millennias he’s ever had a long term relationships and/or children. He’s human after all, he could get hurt or die – though that seems unlikely 😒 – but it was interesting information to have and I hope something will come of it later.

Although he has some limitations, and quite a few tricks up his sleeve – Druid Magic to heal his wounds, among other thing, and his tea to keep himself young and spry – Atticus is a bit of a Gary Sue. Yes, he’s 2100 years old and has had extensive training and experiences. But the stupid things he pulls at times makes him look like a powerful apprentice, who after a training montage, just became a full on Druid. He looses the glimpses wisdom we’ve seen from him by being utterly irresponsible and foolish. At times he seems stuck in his 10th century ways – or that’s Hearne’s excuse to explain some of Atticus’ questionable behavior. He’s a bit confusing.

Turns out the sequel to Hexed is a though one, it has great and questionable moments; but it’s also fast-paced, action-packed, with likable characters.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

You can check out or get the book here: US | EU

Hounded | Kevin Hearne

Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne published 3 May 2011

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.
Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

How was it? I will read anything whatever the genre. I will give a book a fair shake, more so if it’s a book series. I’m so thankful to the person who recommended this series to me via the blog. It took me months to start it but now, I so glad I did. I started the series in chronological order of the stories and not the publication.

I was apprehensive, wondering if the tone of the characters would be the same as in prequel novellas – Grimoire of the Lamb, Clan Rathskeller, Kaibab Unbound – Because I really started to like Atticus – and still love the young broey but kinda wise way he comes across to me – but the secret sauce of this book, and probably the series, is Oberon. I like him even more in Hounded, every time he was there, it made everything better, at this point I’m mostly reading this book for a dog! – And I’m not really a dog person, I love plants, Cacti, so I don’t have to much work to take care of them.

The back and forth between Oberon and Atticus is very entertaining, it’s one of the strength of the book. Whether it is these two, or Atticus interacting with other characters in the book, it’s fun. Atticus himself is a good dude – I appreciate how he does not discriminates with his violence – but I knew from page one that he’d be fine – not because there’re like a zillion books in the series – because he’s over 2100 years old and cunning. Besides he never really seems to struggles, he gets worried yes, but somehow you know the odds will be in his favor.

So what makes this book entertaining and worth checking out is the interactions between the characters, but mostly, it’s Oberon. That dog is hilarious and very well written. It does feel like his words are striped right off of a dog’s mind. The story is fine too but the talking dog is where it’s at.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You can check out or get the book here: US | EU