Review: The Sigil by Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Title: The Sigil

Authors: Shakeil Kanish & Larissa Mandeville

Publication Date: January 27, 2020

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT

Age Range: YA

Love Yo Shelf received and epub of The Sigil from Shakeil in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Synopsis: After losing the person most important to him, Lake Smithson stumbles across a letter he cannot explain. A single brush of his finger and he is thrust into the heart of a mystery only to slowly realize that his obsession to be more, will unleash an evil that threatens all he has left.

A tragic death.
A dangerous obsession.
A desperate mission.

Faceless creatures, terrifying magic, unlikely friendships, and broken promises lead Lake and his friends to walk a tight line between the mage realm, on the brink of extinction, and the human realm, on the precipice of revelation. Will Lake become the first human to wield magic or will he be the last?

As someone who admittedly judges books by their covers sometimes, I gotta say, this one was not what I was expecting. I’ve never seen so many pop culture references in fantasy, much less a self-proclaimed darker fantasy like this one. When I first started, I was taken aback by the writing style and the mannerisms of the characters, but as I got to know them, the oddness of it started to fall away. At first, the characters themselves seemed kind of surface level, but as the novel progressed it was really cool to see how Shakeil and Larissa seemed to settle into their writing, which translated into the characters settling into themselves as well.

Lake is the boy with almost nothing left to lose. His whole story revolves around the idea that he wants more, or rather, he wants to be more. He feels stuck and lost and once he loses his best friend, those feelings only intensify. I think for Lake, grief and regret play a large role in how he makes decisions at the start, but it morphs into a sense of protection and stepping into his new role without his brother. Our other protagonist, Nova, uses her confidence as her shield and her attitude as her sword. While she’s insecure about her magical abilities, it stops there. Between the two of them, plus Knox and Jabeya, the eager, awkward kid and his invisible demon buddy, and Stone, the muscled football player whose silence comes with resentment and revenge, this Fab 4.5 couldn’t get any more chaotic, both in some good ways and less good ways.

For starters, I loved the illustrations of Lake and Nova at the beginning of their alternating chapters; I don’t think I’ve ever seen that and I thought it was really inventive. One of my favorite things about reading this was the small moments that made me stop and smile because the jokes were so out-of-the-blue, especially with Stone’s version of humor and Jabeya’s expressive grunts. On the other hand, the fact that it had a slow start and some parts felt rushed through made it personally hard to read. While I could sympathize with the characters sometimes, I felt like I didn’t know much about them. Overall, I did like reading it, it just wasn’t something that I would rush through.

At its core, The Sigil is a story of choice, potential, and fate. The novel draws on the tension between fate and choice in the context of new adulthood and loss. What I love about the novel is that the villain isn’t the classically evil; they’re angry and hurt (not to mention completely unexpected), and they show the process of what happens when you have nothing to lose. In that case, it was very clever for Shakeil and Larissa to write the antagonist in a way that directly parallels the protagonists in a sort of “Lake could’ve been ______ if he didn’t have/do _______” you know? The beauty in the potential of it all. Furthermore, the building of the magic systems and the play between mundane references and magic itself made this a pleasant read with lots of potential for part II.

If you’re interested in reading The Sigil to tell us about your thoughts, you can find it at the following links and add it on Goodreads!

Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Book Depository

All the love for you and your shelves,

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