“Book Review: The Sigil”
Reviewed by Liam Anthony
A gripping novel for the young adults who want no boundaries to their stories and heroes
The Sigil by Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville is an urban fantasy novel for the next generation of young adult readers. It takes elements of already-existing formulas (like the magic academy of the Harry Potter series) and adds something new and fresh to its characterization and scope.
From the first page, this novel leads its reader down a path of myriad twists and turns. It follows the story and perspective of Lake Smithson, an 18-year-old high school student. After the death of his older brother, he finds an enigmatic-looking letter which introduces him to Breywood Academe. Little does he know that this will be the beginning of a whole new adventure for him.
The co-authors are undeniably talented at crafting a story that keeps the reader hooked. The chapters are short, making the need to continue inevitable. The novel is punctuated with mysteries, enigmatic characters, and the theme of sigils. And despite the novel being in the urban fantasy genre, the authors inject enough reality into the dialogue and the character’s identities to keep things relatable for us. At times, it even reads like contemporary fiction, until the magic weaves its way back in.
In addition to not wanting to put this book down because of its plot, I also grew to love its characters. I particularly enjoyed the confidence and insecurities of the character Nova, but I also really appreciated the emotional story behind the character Stone. The endurance test of “The Trials” is also well-executed, allowing us to see the authors’ willingness to throw any situation at their characters (including suffering) to watch them grow.
Along with the conveyor belt of magic spells and invasions, this novel has a sentimental layer to it, too, particularly concerning love and loss. It’s clear that possessing a magical power doesn’t mean anyone is immune from heartbreak and disappointment.
I also appreciated the LGBTQ representation for our novel’s hero, which I don’t see often enough. However, I did feel as though we needed to spend a bit more time with this. There is a hint of a potential love story in here, but it isn’t enough just to have the hint—we need more of a further developing identity than we get in these pages.
In terms of our characters, it is Nova who triumphs. The novel oscillates from the perspectives of Lake and Nova, and since I felt a bit distanced from Lake, it’s Nova who feels like the most three-dimensional and enjoyable character. Her knowledge, confidence, and sexual comments about her male peers at inappropriate times make her a great character to follow around. Her dialogue often surprises me, and I always feel engaged when she is in scene, offering me a unique energy and a slither of glamor.
The Sigil is an entertaining novel that flourishes thanks to its galloping narrative. Fans of this genre will like binge-read it just like I did and embrace the unconventional yet relevant characterization throughout.
Paperback: 342 pages
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