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The Sigil: A Novel - Part I

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The Descent Meets The Magicians.



Why, then, does Lake think Devlin knew he was going to die before they ever set foot in the gas station that night? As he obsesses over his brother’s death, Lake begins to uncover a hidden world full of forbidden magic and growing danger. Now he’s stuck, caught between the world that his brother was meant for and his own. Lake is beginning to realize that no one and nowhere is safe.


Nova Rathers may not be especially powerful in the Mage world but she makes up for it with a magical bag of snacks and a body constructed by the Gods to slay. Desperate to be more than her lineage, she finds herself teamed up with a group of misfits and, in her mind, the weakest creature of all - a gida...a powerless human. Together, they start to unravel the lies that built their world and continue to hold it hostage. Nova’s last year at Breyburn Academe was never going to be easy but she had no idea that it could ever get this bad.


Lake, Nova, and their newfound friends are about to find the truth behind what has been hunting them. But knowing is only half the battle. Even if they survive, will the rest of the world remain standing?

385 pages, Kindle Edition

Published January 27, 2020

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About the author

Shakeil Kanish

2 books28 followers
Shakeil Kanish loves to write, which, considering you’re holding this book, makes perfect sense. The Sigil is his debut novel and he’s super excited about being an openly gay author and getting the chance to write about an openly gay protagonist. He feels it’s something sorely missing from the writing world, and he wants underrepresented kids everywhere to be able to root for a new type of hero. He loves playing video games enjoys snacking down on apple pie, as any sane person should. You can become his best friend by asking him to duet any song from the Greatest Showman. No, seriously, please do it.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 58 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,588 reviews153k followers
January 11, 2021
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Just finished my 2020 Book-Year in Review BookTube Video - Click the link to see my recs!
The Written Review
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New month, New Booktube Reading Vlog - tier-listing all the books read in July!
The Written Review
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I must have missed something. Something important.
Lake Smithson had a charmed life. The keyword being "had".

Everything changed with a robber killed his brother, plunging him into an increasingly uncertain world.
Magic. He said magic. Holy crap. I'm Harry Potter.
Lake finds himself involved with Breywood Academy - a secret school where people who can manipulate faeri energy learn.

Lake's brother, Devlin, was supposed to go but delayed year after year to spend time with their family.

Meanwhile Nova Rathers belongs to the other world - the world full of faeri magic - and while she's often treated as lesser, she's bound and determined to find her way.

But then, Lake comes barreling into her world - with wild eyes and even wilder stories.

Creatures of faeri are slipping into the gida (human) world with increasing frequency.

It's up to Lake, Nova and their rag-tag group of friends to save the world...or die trying.
The world turns to chaos as I sink into darkness.
Omg. This was awesome!! Easily top 10 books sent to me from authors this year.

I enjoyed how real these characters felt - Lake was absolutely perfect and I'm dying to see what book 2 will do with his character.

I loved, loved, loved Knox and his demon companion - he was such a sweetie and completely stole the show for me. I know his situation seemed bleak but gosh-dang I'm crossing my fingers - he's just so good of a character.

Nova was...a bit strong... at the beginning but she grew on me and the secondary characters really lifted the story.

I adored the idea of Breywood Academy - a secret school for those who can manipulate faeri energy - and it was so fun to sit in on the classes and the adventures that the characters got into.

The world building felt really strong in this book and I was so fully submerged in it.

All in all, this book was FABULOUS. I'm so happy to have read it and I can't wait for the next book!

Thank you to the author for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Hamad.
971 reviews1,285 followers
June 29, 2020
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Actual Rating: 3.75 stars

“I know it’s probably selfish and corny and dumb, but I started praying that I’d just be happy.


I was provided an e-copy of the book in exchange of an honest review. This of course, does not change my review in any way. You also know that I don’t read much YA these days but I was excited for this book because it is an LGBT book written by an own voice male author and you know the YA genre does not have many YA male authors.

What is the book about? I usually have a hard time describing what the books are about because I don’t won’t to spoil anything and because the synopsis is usually more informative. However, if I am going to describe this book, I am going to say that imagine if a muggle got into Hogwarts and he is the main character and that he is actually openly gay!

The writing is good, I did not have any major problem with the prose itself because it was good and easy to follow, I also had some laughs throughout the book! I am going to be honest and say that I still have mixed thoughts on the dual POV that the authors decided to go with! There were few times when the two POVs sounded similar and I had to go back and check whose POV I was reading.

The characters themselves are good and I said I have mixed thoughts because it was not a bad decision by the authors, I knew it had an upside as soon as I finished the book but the problem is that Nova’s POV is introduced a bit late. It felt like an afterthought in a way or another! As any other book it takes a few chapters to care about the world and characters and as soon as I felt that with Lake’s POV, we switched to Nova’s POV and I just wanted more Lake throughout the book! I knew that there won’t be romance between them because Lake is openly gay so it was out of the question. I need to take this chance to mention Lake’s parents and how awkward they were and that just a laugh out loud material for me!

The world building is good and is a mix between the real world and the magical school. Harry Potter references were there and I think the author/s are influenced by that series. That’s why I felt some similarities between the books too but I mean this in a good way. the magic itself reminded me of CC Shadowhunters world with the runes that they draw but the difference here is that the runes they use can not be drawn on the people themselves so it was kind of a unique system at the end of the day.

The book is fast-paced and there was always something new happening. I expcted the plot to go in the usual direction that YA books take but it did not and I really loved the way things turned into toward the end, it was dark, it was cool and it left me satisfied! I thought it was a standalone but apparently there is a second book so I guess we will get the closure in that one!

Summary: A good YA debut that sounded initially like most of the YA books in the genre but then it decided to be unique and took a turn for the best! The characters are good and so is the writing. The world-building did not blow my mind but I still enjoyed it. I guess the authors did a great job for a debut! A good book for readers interested in an LGBT fantasy book!
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,013 reviews117 followers
February 25, 2020
"And I know this world is complicated and hard and crazy, and that sometimes you feel you don’t belong. Hell, sometimes I feel like I don’t belong. But I want you here. Because you make me happy again.”

Sabriel meets The Descent in this high urban fantasy that you won’t ever forget.

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


This is the diverse, own-voices fantasy novel that I have been waiting for. A lot of ones being released lose my interest quickly and I end up leaving them behind. Everything together as a whole was absolutely fantastic!! This is the book that A. Silvera wishes he would have written!

This starts off with an explosion and never lets up. It was action-packed and never lost its dull. The scenes are set up so perfectly that you can actually visualize it all. The characters were all well thought out and developed superbly.

The Sigil is a debut novel from an own-voices author who you need to keep on your radar. This debut was tremendous, so just imagine what his other books are going to be like. I'm excited to see what he releases next. But my fingers are crossed for a sequel!!!




Profile Image for Lucie V..
978 reviews1,512 followers
March 24, 2022
I was provided an e-copy of the book in exchange of an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

🆗 Characters
🆗 Pace
🆗❌ Plot
🆗❌ Writing/consistency
❌ Academy drama vibe

DNF at 50%

The beginning of this book is not bad, but I am not a fan of the whole “academy” trope in general, so while many people thought that the story got better after Luke started to go to the academy, it was not the case for me. Granted, I might not be the best to judge this book.

Lake’s brother was killed during a robbery, and a few weeks later Lake discovers a strange letter of acceptance to Breywood Academy. Lake has always desperately wanted to belong, so he attempts to take his brother’s place, and discover a world of magic in which he has no part, even though he would like to. He now has to find a way to survive and be a part of a magical world that is not made for him. Luke had a wonderful and loving family that was proud of him and supported him entirely, yet he seemed to have a love/jealousy relationship with his brother. That is not a problem, but I am still not sure to this point what Lake’s aspirations are, and I found him frustrating

Honestly, I just struggled so much to push through this book. Luke has found a way into the school, and I am not really sure anymore where the story is going. Once the challenge of entering the academy is overcome, not much happens besides Lake being cast out, sitting in class even though he couldn’t really participate in them, and trying not to be bullied by everyone because he does not have magic. Because of that, and the whole academy vibe, I've sadly lost interest in Luke’s story.

This book could be considered a dark fantasy book but sometimes the humor was just used at odd times. I think the goal was to get us more attached to the characters, to create more depth maybe and make them more likable, but it ruined the tension in more intense moments, and it felt forced at times. Because of the forced humor, and the writing that was awkward at times, jumping between a very formal and casual tone, I had trouble getting into this story.

Overall, this book has potential, but the plot still needs some work and the characters could gain more depth. Keep in mind though that my not being a fan of the whole Academy trope played a part in my rating, so part of me didn’t enjoy this book, not because of the writing or story, but simply because I am not a fan of school teenage drama.


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Profile Image for Josie.
111 reviews53 followers
January 19, 2021
Big thanks to the author for providing an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


I just wanna start by saying, that this book has a really intriguing premise with heaps to offer in terms of a gripping story and while I love the idea for this book, I think the execution could use a bit of work. It is important to note that the author has reworked some aspects of this novel since I’ve received my eARC copy, so it’s very possible that some, if not all, of the issues I had with this novel have been improved or tweaked in some way. I’ve decided to write down my thoughts in an easy-to-consume pros and cons list, so, with that said, let’s get into my review.

Pros (aka aspects of this novel I enjoyed):

-Casual Queerness!! Not every book featuring queer protagonists needs to be about coming out or heavily feature homophobia, although no shade to books that do. I understand the importance of exploring topics like those; however, it’s nice to see queer people existing in an open and accepting environment.
-This book’s beginning and conclusion were both really strong. The story grabbed me from the start and the ending was WILD, but in a good way. It got me genuinely hyped for the next installment in the series.
-The characters in this novel all had distinct personalities that made it easy to differentiate them from another. My personal favorites were Knox and Stone, if anyone was curious.
-The setup for the reveals at the end of the book were good. They didn’t feel too far out of left field and they had proper foreshadowing, which I always appreciate.

Cons (aka aspects of this novel that just didn’t end up working for me):

-Characters would react in ways that either didn’t make sense or didn’t line up with the way they had previously reacted when put in similar situations. Mild spoilers coming up, but one example that really stood out to me was when Lake leaves for the magical school where the majority of this book takes place. He simply leaves a letter with no explanation of his whereabouts for his parents to find while they’re still mourning the sudden death of their other son. One would think that his parents would be freaked about this, since none of them are in a good headspace at this particular moment in time, but no, when Lake returns, he finds a letter that his parents wrote, essentially saying that they’re also gonna take a little trip. He manages to catch them right before they go and they don’t even ask him where he disappeared off to. They just kinda say hi and leave for their trip without much of a second thought. Whatever, they’re chill parents and Lake is eighteen, I can understand that, but in a scene soon after this one, Lake tells his folks that he’s going to start attending the previously mentioned magical boarding school (they don’t know it’s a magic school obviously, but that’s besides the point) and his mother just breaks down into tearful hysterics at the idea of him leaving. Like, huh? Another example of a character reacting weirdly is the incident regarding Jackson at the beginning of the book. I find it hard to believe that what happened with Jackson doesn’t effect Lake at all. Throughout the course of the novel, he shows no remorse or guilt over that whole situation, which I find pretty hard to believe, since that was a pretty traumatizing event.
-Okay, warning: this next part is a pretty big spoiler so if you care, skip to the next point, but if you don’t, then strap in. One more example of a character acting in a way that didn’t make any sense to me was Dev choosing to die over leaving his family to hone his magical abilities. I get we wouldn’t have a plot if this decision hadn’t been made, but it makes no sense. In what world is leaving your family to mourn you dying a brutal, sudden death by gunshot in a gas station better than leaving your family to learn magic even if there’s a chance you’ll never see them again? Surely knowing Dev is alive somewhere, even if it’s not with his parents, is an easier burden for them to carry over the alternative. Plus, by attending magic school, Dev would’ve not only probably had an easier time finding answers to his questions, but could’ve learned MAGIC as well as date Kat in a safe environment. The narrative does suggest that his parents will forget about him once he starts attending magic school which sucks, but isn’t never knowing he existed a much easier burden to bear than his death? I’m not even entirely sure if this is what would happen, though, because Lake still saw his parents after he started attending magic school and on top of that, every students’ parents attend the gala that the school hosts, including ones with human parents. They forget about the event and the school’s existence afterwards, but they never forget about Lake, so that begs the question: Would Dev have been entirely erased from his family’s lives or would his parents know he exists, but he just can’t ever interact with them? Whether my question was answered in the text or not, my point still stands, it was a weird choice on his part.
-The pacing felt off. Like I said, the start and end were strong, but the mid-section of this novel was a drag and it felt a bit aimless.
-I think Stone and Lake should’ve had more scenes where it was just the two of them. Their relationship dynamic felt kind of instalovey and I would’ve liked to see it developed upon a bit more. It didn’t really feel like their friendship had a natural progression; there was just a time skip and suddenly they were super close. Same applies to Nova and Lake’s friendship.
-I don’t think Nova needed her own POV. Yes, she’s a crucial part of the book and yes, it’s important that we empathize with her, but seeing as my two favorite characters didn’t have their own POVs, her character could’ve been just as well-developed without her own POV.
-We do get some info on the specifics of faeri, or magic, but I think the world-building could be better. We know that mages look down on humans for lacking magical abilities and also look down on mages for not manifesting a specific ability, but why do abilities matter so much when those with an affinity for magic can practice it just as well as any other mage, regardless of specific ability? Also, is there a hierarchy to which abilities are most desirable/powerful? We know that Seers are both valued and rare so are they at the top of the magical ability hierarchy? Why do they allow a human to attend their school even though he gains nothing by going there, but if a mage dates a human, it’s a big deal? Why does it matter if a mage dates a human? Is there an actual reason like if a mage has children with a human, that causes the magic within the bloodline to be diluted? Is it just prejudice? Is it just because the Council doesn’t like humans interacting with mages because if humans wield magic it’ll eventually kill them? I mean, Lake did kind of prove throughout this novel that humans can’t help but try to use magic, even when it harms them, so the Council was kind of right to separate the magic world from the human ones, even if Lake and co. try to convince us it’s because of purely prejudiced reasons. I’m assuming once students start attending magic school their parents either forget they ever existed or they can just never see their parents again since it’s so frowned upon for mages to interact with humans, but that’s just so sad. Like, how do the students even cope with this? I got a bit off topic there, but you get the idea. These are just a few questions to get the ball rolling, but I would’ve liked some more elaboration regarding the specifics of the magical world.
-This is more of a suggestion than a criticism, but I would’ve liked to see Lake’s classmates characterized a bit more. They were pretty entertaining so I’d just prefer more background on them. Maybe there could’ve been a scene where Knox fills Lake in on who’s who à la that Mean Girls scene where Janis introduces Cady to the Plastics.

Even though this book didn’t really work for me personally, I do think it’s worth checking out if it sounds at all interesting to you. I mean, plenty of people ended up really enjoying this book, so don’t let me deter you from reading it.
Profile Image for Catherine.
412 reviews137 followers
February 18, 2020
"This is me now, and I will not let anyone walk all over me anymore."

The Sigil is the debut novel of a Own Voices author, Shakeil Kanish, co-writed with Larissa Mandeville. This is the book this gay man of color probably wished he could have read, with a male main character he could relate to, and that he wrote for himself and so others readers could have this hero in their life. There are so many LGBT+ books being released now, however myself and plenty of others readers wish for more Own Voices books. If that's your case, this author wrote for this book for you, too. Before I go further, keep in mind that I'm white and straight, and that no matter how much representation matters to me, I cannot relate to it the way others do. I'm saying this because I hope that others, who are concerned by the representation in this novel, will also read it and write reviews that will be more important than mine.

This is urban fantasy, and while I doubt that those who don't like this genre will change their mind with The Sigil, I'd recommend to give it a chance. While everyone who's been following my reviews and the books I read know my love for fantasy, urban fantasy can really much be a hit or miss with me too, and this one was a hit. I had my doubts at the beginning: the writing is indeed very much the one you can expect in urban fantasy (it would have been weird if it wasn't), the pacing felt like it was too slow and too fast at the same time. I know this seems like a strange thing to say, so let me explain: the prologue starts with the murder that will set off the following events. In the first chapter, we go back very soon before it happens and are introduced to Lake, his brother Dev and their parents. By the end of chapter 2, the murder has happened. So, it was already very fast-paced, but at the same way it felt slow in the sense that I didn't really care for what was happening. I also had a hard time connecting with the characters and the writing style, and felt like the author didn't give me time to care and at the same time spent too long during that very short time on things that didn't serve the story.

I was wrong, though. I pushed further, because you really get into the book after a few chapters and understand the choice made by the author at the beginning. It's fast-paced without being too fast, the narration makes it a page-turner and very hard to put down, I had a lot of questions on my mind and those are answered in time, letting us make our own guess about how and why and what, without dragging to give us a good explanation either. I didn't expect the turn the story took, which is a rare thing. I'm not trying to brag, but I'm not easily suprised by twists and revelations. So if you feel the same way I did when you start this book, please keep reading.

The strong point of this novel though, is by far the characters. No matter how good a story is, I'm definitely more a character-driven person than action-driven reader. I can forgive plotholes as long as the characters are great, but I don't care how good a plot is if I don't give a damn about the characters. Lake, a gay boy of color, and Nova, my girl that deserves a hug, are the two main characters. They're both strong and vulnerable at the same time, they feel real, authentic, relatable. You can't help but root for them and wish you could be here for them. The characterization is incredible and that's how you know this is Own Voices. I couldn't have written this book, I couldn't have done such an amazing job with the characters. There's also a very interesting cast of side characters who all have their own importance in the plot. My favorite is by far Stone, and the romance in this book made me want to, once again, hug a character. And I don't hug characters all the time, people.

"And I know this world is complicated and hard and crazy, and that sometimes you feel like you don't belong. Hell, sometimes I feel like I don't belong. But I want you here. Because you make me happy again."

Overall, this is a great debut novel and the end is satisfying enough to make me wait for the sequel without counting the days (which doesn't mean I don't want it as soon as possible!) While there were times where it was obvious this was a debut novel, the great points totally made me forget it while I was reading and I'd like to encourage the author to keep working because he definitely has the potential to improve very much.

Nb: I bought the paperback edition of this book, which has grammatical and formatting mistakes. I'm usually the first one to complain about it, because it's annoying as hell. However, you should be aware, if you also decide to buy the paperback edition, that the author paid everything himself, that he apologized in person to me for said mistakes without me complaining, and that he's working on fixing that problem as soon as possible. So no hate in the reviews about this, please: be kind and support new authors who do their best!
Profile Image for Shakeil Kanish.
Author 2 books28 followers
May 27, 2020
This is my novel and I just wanted to tell everyone who has this on their list of things to read I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did! Growing up a gay colored kid I never really had a lot of heroes in novels that I could look up to so I wanted to make one. I want kids of all shapes and sizes and sexuality all around the world to be able to look at my novel and see it doesn't matter who you are or if you have powers or magic you can still be a hero. Just by being yourself! :)
Profile Image for Lance.
448 reviews137 followers
March 16, 2020
"“I know it’s probably selfish and corny and dumb, but I started praying that I’d just be happy.”

"And I know this world is complicated and hard and crazy, and that sometimes you feel you dont belong. Hell, sometimes I feel like I dont belong. But I want you here. Because you make me happy again."


Many thanks to the author, Shakeil Kanish, for giving me an ARC in exchange for a honest review!

3.5 Stars. The Sigil: A Novel, albeit while having a rough start, is a promising debut novel from a new, fresh voice in dark fantasy. I'm not going to lie, the first few chapters of this book made me a bit apprehensive about how this novel would turn out. Thankfully, the last act of the novel delivered on the "dark" part of the fantasy that this book is being marketed as. Every aspect of this novel is a mixed bag, apart from the beginning third and the ending third: the prose, the worldbuilding, and the magic system all of it landed square in the middle of the spectrum for me.

Let's talk about the beginning to get it out of the way first. Looking on it now, I think what's weird to me is how discordant the first part of the book is in comparison to the rest of the book. I don't necessarily mean that the first part was poorly constructed or shoddily written; I mean that the first part does not seem like the start to a dark urban fantasy book. The first impression I got of this book was that it was kind of "campy:" the dialogue felt a bit cheesy and stilted, sometimes the phrasing was awkward, and the characters did not behave in a way I'd expect from a dark fantasy. Particularly, the way the parents were written and talked felt a bit off and hyper-exaggerated. The introduction of new characters, particularly Nova, in this part also felt a bit forced. I also couldn't get a good handle on who Lake, our protagonist, was and what his personality was. Overall, there were hints of a darker story but the beginning felt weirdly divorced tone-wise from the rest of the novel.

Now for the prose. Again, it felt a bit dry and cheesy beginning but steadily grew into itself in the middle and latter thirds of the book. I wouldn't at all say it's purple prose, but the first person perspective it is written it serves it's purpose well. Everything is communicated very effectively and I was never confused about what was going on in a scene. The prose also definitely accentuates character voice rather than drowns it out, as Lake and Nova sound different form each other whenever the narrative switches to their POV (as indicated by an illustration of them). I will say that I firmly believe that the prose is at its absolute best in the last third when all the events of the novel culminate and everything is going haywire, I felt the prose was at its best then, as I could visualize everything going on during a chaotic battle scene and that's a sign of good writing.

As for world-building, I thought it was good. There was nothing glaringly wrong with it, nor was there anything particularly innovative or interesting about it. I liked that sigils were the core of the magic system and how they were utilized by different characters in many different ways. The author(s) made good use of a magical school setting, as often whatever the students are learning simultaneously informs the reader of how the world operates; this book is no exception. I would like to learn more about the various species in this world, as demons exist (which is always a fascinating topic to explore, especially in dark fantasy). I get the feeling that in Part II, we'll get a firmer exploration of everything introduced in this part of the novel.

Characters. I'll start by saying I'm very happy to see a gay man of color writing about POC protagonists, particularly a gay black main protagonist; it's very rare to see #ownvoices representation for gay men in fantasy or even contemporary, much less a gay man of color.I definitely like the core characters in this novel (Lake, Nova, Stone, and Knox) but don't truly love them in the way that I love a lot of characters in books. That being said, I also really did love Lake and the fact that he's an entirely human protagonist caught up in this magic craziness. Perhaps due to genre conventions, I was expecting Also, Lake's whole arc around hating being in the shadow of his brother, while grieving him at the same time, and trying to assert his own agency and importance in the world really resonated with me. Also,

Now for the best part of this book: the last third. I was wholeheartedly not prepared for how crazy the ending was going to be. Everything from : it was the darkness that I was eagerly waiting for from this novel, delivered in a perfectly written manner. Again, the writing was particularly good in this section as it almost felt like watching a horror movie with how well I could picture the carnage and terror occurring. In addition, the ending:

Conclusively, I would definitely recommend this. I'm unsure of what to classify this book as in terms of age (Young adult? New adult? Adult?) but I would definitely give this to older teens. It's a compelling start to what's sure to be a hell of a dark urban fantasy ride.
Profile Image for Joyfully Jay.
7,289 reviews412 followers
March 4, 2021
A Joyfully Jay review.

3 stars


The Sigil is the first part of a new series by authors Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville. The story and its themes very loosely resemble some of the major themes from another popular series about a boy who discovers a hidden world of magic. The divide between the magical world and the human world is an important crux in the story and the alternating narratives between Lake (a plain old human) and Nova (a mage without a special gift) clearly demonstrate the depth of the prejudice against the human world. However, the juxtaposition between having these two characters serve as the lenses through which we experience the book was, in a word, jarring.

Overall, I thought this book had a lot of potential. In broad strokes, I thought Lake and Nova captured some very relatable qualities: being rejected and not fitting in (Lake), being self-centered to a fault (Nova). But I thought the choice to cut up and separate the two main characters so distinctly worked against the cohesion of the story and, because the characters were so thoroughly reflecting a narrow slice of experiences, it made the book drag for me.

Read Camille’s review in its entirety here.
Profile Image for Meg loves to read.
178 reviews20 followers
December 14, 2020
I have often daydreamed what it would be like to go to Hogwarts for a Year - or even just for a day! As a muggle myself, I wonder if I could fit in with a school of wizards and witches.

Well, if you ever have wondered the same thing, then this book is for you. "The Sigil" by Kanish and Mandeville have taken my childhood daydreams and turned them into reality!

After Lake witnesses the violent death of his older brother Dev at the local gas station, Lake finds his ordinary world crumbling before him. By happenstance, he discovers a magical school full of mages being trained in the art of sigil making (reminds me of the Shadow-hunter world created by Cassandra Clare). It is in this magical world that Lake discovers something more sinister at work. With the help of his misfit friends, Lake attempts to save the only world he has ever known and learn the truth behind his brother's murder.

What I liked:
- The book is well written. Outstanding talent!
- Loved the concept (muggle at Hogwarts! - sign me up!)
- Love the representation of LGBT community and POC (we need more of that in Young adult Fantasy and was great to see)

What I didn't Love:
- I have never been crazy about the changing POV and I found it hard to dive into Nova's POV (but I struggle with every book that does this and it's more of a presentation thing than anything else)
- I wish I got a little more detail on the magical world around us (I think that is why those 500-700 page fantasy books are my favorite lol - I LOVE world building details! And I wanted more of that here).

Overall rating 3.75/4 (So I rounded up).

If you love Harry Potter, "The Rest of Us Just Live Here" by Patrick Ness, or "The City of Bones" by Cassandra Clare then this book is made just for you.
Profile Image for Rebecca Crunden.
Author 15 books407 followers
Read
April 10, 2022
Everything that happened led you to this place [...] and a boy who lost his voice and didn’t care if he’d ever get it back now wishes every day that he could just open his mouth and tell you all of this.

I really enjoyed this début novel from Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville! The main characters of Lake and Nova are great, and the bro angst really brought the FEELS. Brotherly love is something I adore in books, so of course this one tugged at my heart. ;_;

I want him to choose what he wants to be, not be stuck in a magical destiny like I seem to be. He deserves the world. I MEAN.

The twists at the end were great, and I loved the artwork inside the book, too! Can't wait to see where it goes next!


I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 14 books293 followers
December 26, 2020
Thanks to the author for providing a ecopy of The Sigil in exchange for an honest review.

The Sigil follows Lake after the murder of his brother spurs him to look further into his life only to discover that his brother was offered a space at a magical school. Originally going in his brother's place, Lake works his way into a new school and hidden world.

I liked how casual this book was with Lake being gay since while YA is getting better at including queer characters, it normally focuses only on coming out or prejudice and while those are important topics to explore, sometimes you want to be able to read about a queer character who's life story doesn't revolve around how difficult it is to be queer. This book also has a really strong opening and conclusion, but its mid-section dragged a bit for me and felt a bit directionless. It does a good job of setting up for the conclusion, but I wish there was an additional goal or something driving the characters forward for readers to get invested in.

The narration was well done, but some of the teen-speak felt a bit uncanny valley, especially when it was used to relay plot, world, or relationship information. It wasn't necessarily because it felt exposit dumpy, but there was definitely something else off that I still can't quite put my finger on. We also follow both Lake and another character named Nova, and I honestly don't think her perspective was really needed. Her chapters are narrated indistinguishably from Lake's and it sometimes made it difficult to remember who's perspective you were in and she doesn't offer anything to the story until after the midway point so her chapters just took away from Lake's. I understand the importance of us caring for and empathizing with Nova in later chapters, but my (and judging by the other reviews I've read, basically everyone's favorite character) Knox managed to be one of the most empathetic and developed characters despite not being a perspective character so Nova easily could have been developed without giving her an entire POV.
Profile Image for Bertie (LuminosityLibrary).
459 reviews102 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
February 10, 2021
dnf - 49%

I'm fully aware that this book is going to go through another couple of edits before its release, so please take this with a pinch of salt. I think this book has a lot of potential, and the beginning is especially strong. The major reason I'm not going to continue reading it is the plot seems to have dwindled off, Lake has found a way into the school, and I've lost interest in where the story is going. I also found the tone a bit strange sometimes. It's a dark fantasy book but humour is used in odd moments, ruining both the tension and immersion. The secondary POV character Nova is particularly bad for this. I understand what the author is doing with her character but she often comes across as a black caricature, a constant barrage of drugs, sex, 'girl', 'my black ass', at the strangest moments. I'm not an OwnVoices reviewer for this representation but it felt heavy-handed. On the positive side, I'm really glad this book features an OwnVoices gay man character, I definitely think we need more those in fiction. This wasn't a bad book by any means, and I think after another round of editing it could be really fun, it just wasn't for me.
865 reviews20 followers
February 12, 2020
I enjoyed reading this dark, urban fantasy. But there were some issues I had with the story. First I thought the first person narrative didn't work because there were dual first POV, Lake and Nova, and it threw me off when the first 25% of the book was all Lake's POV, then it switched to Nova's. I thought the sudden switch of POV disrupted the flow of the story. I think it would have worked better as a third person narrative because of the sudden shift.
*Spoilers* I'll try not to reveal too much:
In addition there were holes in some of the scenes: 1) How did the dean, Cherry, not solve the mystery behind her sister's death? 2)How did they cover up the Neth coming to Lake's house? Didn't his parents see the damage in the house? 3) How did Lake's parents just accept about this unknown college? Didn't they want to tour or have to sign documents for their son's acceptance and attendance? 4) Where was Lake's father at the end? 5) How did Kathryn survive: wouldn't the Neth have gotten to her? 6) McHugh just disappears during the fight after he brings in more people to help. 7) Where was Jeb when his ward was in trouble?

After reading the last chapter, it really felt that there should be a continuation of the story. But the author didn't indicate that this is a series or that another book would be upcoming. The author indicated that this was his first book. Despite the issues I listed above, I thought he had a great start in his writing career. I enjoyed reading it; the story captivated me; the characters were well-developed; and the riposte were hilarious.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Cassie.
325 reviews63 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
March 5, 2021
First off, thank you to the author, Shakeil Kanish, for reaching out to me and providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. You’ve been nothing but kind to me, and I appreciate you for that.

Now, let me get some things out of the way first. I only read 30% of this so I can only speak on what I read up until that point. And please consider taking this review with a grain of salt. I am a sensitive person, so certain things bother me more than they bother the average person. I also want to go into this as respective, but honest, as possible. There genuinely was stuff that I liked about this book, but there were also things I didn’t like and I have to put myself first. Which is why I’m calling it a DNF instead of forcing myself to read this and finish it. Also, I don’t want to end up absolutely hating this book, and what I had read I didn’t hate, but I also wasn’t comfortable with continuing it.

Okay, so, the things I liked:
Lake? Precious. I absolutely loved him. He dealt with a lot and I loved the bond he had with his brother. Y’all know sibling relationships are one of my favorite tropes, as I have two sisters myself. I enjoyed getting to witness this magical world through his eyes. He was so determined to get answers and to prove himself and I admired him for that. Also, the family aspect was really nice, too. Getting to see Lake and his family together, even if it was for a short time, was a treat. I loved the way the author wrote the family and their love for one another. The writing style was also good, it kept me engaged and interested throughout what I had read. Which is why I’m so sad that I just can’t make myself finish, since I adored Lake and wanted to get to see how he continued to live through this magical world that he did not belong to.

Now, onto what didn’t work for me:
As I’ve said, I am sensitive towards certain things. So while this didn’t work for me, I’m absolutely not saying it won’t work for others. There’s a character in here, her name is Nova. She started off, for me, a confident and funny character. I liked her at first. But then the more I kept reading from her perspective, it just got worse for me. I’m all for confidence in women, but I feel like there’s no need for her to say over and over again how confident she is and make all these sexual comments about it every chance she got. I just felt her character was a bit too much for my personal tastes and it was just not something that I wanted to read from. Now, could I have attempted to ignore all that and continue? Yes, and I tried to continue.

I want to go into this as respectful as I can, but as I’m expected to give an honest review, I’m going to mention something that really bothered me and I’m hoping to warn other readers in case it’s triggering for some people. Let me preface this: I am in no way saying because of this you should not read this book. Please, take this review as a content warning if you must, because this book doesn’t deserve to be hated on. Especially because what didn’t work for me, will work for others. I know a lot of people can turn the other way when it comes to Nova’s character. And that’s great! I’m weird and different, I’ve accepted this, but I can’t sit here and lie to myself and say that her character didn’t make me uncomfortable at times. My feelings are valid, but so are everyone else’s. So, if this isn’t going to bother you, then please, consider checking out this book when it becomes available! I want everyone to be able to get to know Lake and his story, as well as Nova. She went through some stuff as a child and I’m not going to lie, some part of me felt for her.

But, unfortunately, a comment Nova made to her friend about another person and wanting to purposely make that other person look fat just to get back at her didn’t sit right with me. Especially as I am a fat woman myself. I’ve learned that being fat or plus-sized shouldn’t be viewed as a negative thing. So when I see things like this that make it seem as if fat should be viewed as a terrible thing, it upsets me and it’s where I draw the line.

Now, it didn't feel as if the author intended this to be malicious or hurtful. So please, just take this as a content warning. I feel like I owe it to people to let them know that hey, a character said this and it’s in here. However, even when Nova had said this, I wish her friend would have spoken up about it and called Nova out on it, instead of just laughing and saying “don’t you dare” ya know? Nova had no right to say that to begin with, but this could have been an opportunity for her friend to turn it around and make it so that fat people shouldn't be deemed as less than others.

Again, thank you Shakeil for taking the time to reach out to me and provide me with an ARC of your book. You’ve been nothing but kind to me.

I tried to go into this genuinely and honestly as I could. I feel like I repeated myself a bunch of times, too. I’m sorry this book didn’t work out for me, but all things considered, I would be willing to check out more books from this author in the future.
Profile Image for Rogan Shannon.
97 reviews82 followers
May 26, 2020
Thanks to NetGalley for providing this copy to review.

Representation: gay black boy MC, black girl MC

Lake Smithson is in a rut, trying to get into colleges and being declined from all of them. He experiences a great tragedy, and starts to spiral until he stumbles across an odd letter. With this, he discovers there's a whole hidden magical world that humans aren't allowed to be a part of. Of course, Lake fights this because he feels like he's finally found a place where he could belong. There's magic, creatures of the dark, love, friendships, and chaos.

Rating: 3.5/5 Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this! I thought the magic system was interesting, with how only the gifted are able to use it by drawing sigils and activating them. Humans can technically use it too, but they'll be corrupted and possibly die if they try. The whole concept of the MC getting into a magical school, not having any magical ability, and never suddenly discovering some hidden power was really refreshing. I loved that Lake's being gay was very casual, it came up in the story from time to time but was never a big coming out moment. I really loved Nova! Sure, she's a little abrasive in the beginning, but I just love her unapologetic blackness. I liked how they showed the POV change with illustrations of Lake and Nova before the perspective shift. Though I did feel like Nova's POV came in really late. I wish she had been added earlier, and had more chapters.

From the cover of the book, you expect a dark fantasy and it is, but you don't really get that feeling until maybe a third into the book? The beginning is a little dark with the loss of Lake's brother, but other than that, it felt like just a standard YA story until we finally encountered the Neth, creatures of the dark. That was when it went darker, the pacing started to pick up and we dove more into this magical world. There were some plot holes, and some things that were kind of glossed over that shouldn't have been , and some things that I felt like were missing but couldn't put my finger on. On one edition of this, the author says it's being re-edited but I don't know when that was posted. I hope the copy I received is an older one, because there are quite a few grammar issues, typos, and so on. But all in all, I did enjoy this read, and that ending WHEW! I need the next book!!
Profile Image for Tabatha Shipley.
Author 10 books66 followers
January 3, 2021
What I Did Like:
-Lake. He’s a solid character with a lot of heart who has an interesting backstory. I like learning more about him and I like the way his story plays out. Great character!
-Action scenes. They’re intense, they’re well written, and they are easy to follow. They move at a good pace and give you a clear picture of what is happening.
-Magic. I always enjoy reading stories about Magic and this one was no different. I liked the background involved in this world and the originality of the sigil magic.

Who Should Read This One:
-Fans of magic stories who want a little dark in their magic.

My Rating: 3 Stars. Good story that fans of dark magic will want to check out when it’s released!

For Full Review (including what I didn’t love): https://youtu.be/UBPgfUCx_kE
Profile Image for Tessa.
101 reviews32 followers
March 19, 2020
*My thanks to the Author for gifting me with this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*
*Warning for Mild spoilers*

The Sigil is described as a dark urban LGBTQA+ fantasy wherein a boy named Lake Smithson should be bound for college, but cannot seem to get his foot in the door and does not appear to know what to do with himself. When his beloved older brother is murdered, that sends Lake into an even deeper spiral until he discovers a strange artifact that his brother hid away: A letter of acceptance to a mysterious Academy. Drawn to the strangeness of the letter, Lake attempts to take his brother’s place at Breywood, and discovers a world of magic that he desperately wants to belong to. But Lake does not have Faeri, or magic—so how can he survive in a world that repels him by its very nature?

The author warned me from the beginning that there would be typos and even slight pacing issues as they are still working on cleaning those up, so I won’t talk about them here. But I, unfortunately, did not connect with this book despite that.

Our two POVs are Lake and a girl named Nova, neither of which have very much to do with each other for most of the book until about 50-60% when we have a time jump and they appear to be friends. There was a set up meant to happen there, but it did not make sense until well past the second act and by then, the pacing was thrown off for me entirely.

I could not pinpoint what it was that Lake truly wanted. He has a loving home where his parents and brother adore him and each other. They are all entirely supportive of him as a person and as a gay man. And yet, he seems senselessly jealous of his brother, who seems like he would bend over backward to get him wherever he wanted to go in life. Instead of talking to any of them, Lake is listless and without dreams of his own which made him a frustrating character to follow in the beginning.

When Lake goes to Breywood in his brother’s name, he immediately is cast aside for not having the proper magical ability and is told he will be sent home. He is then talked into making a terrible mistake with another magic-less boy and costing someone their life in the process. After another series of unfortunate events, he returns to the school and somehow manages to bully the Dean of this powerful, magical place into letting him attend despite the fact that humans are not allowed. Except they are allowed, sometimes, they just have to get their memories erased. This did not make sense for me, as one would imagine this woman would have the ability to simply send a petulant child home without recourse.

The only true plot for Lake is to get into Breywood. Once he’s there, I could not figure out what else the book was supposed to be about as we drifted through him sitting through classes he could barely participate in and making half-formed accusations until well passed 60%. There is a thread about the magical world “keeping” magic from the humans as if it isn’t explained time and time again why it is utterly dangerous for humans to use the magic at all. Not only could it kill them, but it could also kill others. The perpetuated hatred toward the Dean and the Council for wanting to keep these worlds apart not only made sense— but to me, it was the kindest and safest solution. This magic corrupts humans to death if used too often, not the mention the creatures that could be unleashed by accident and yet Lake and his friends make them out to be horrible and elitist for it. I could not help but consider the main characters to be selfish and childish.

It continues much this way, and for me, the inconsistencies simply proved too great. I put a lot of stock into characters and their relationships with others. Lake did not seem to naturally form a genuine relationship with anyone outside of his roommate Knox, who I would die for, and his demon companion. The other friendships were either glossed over or time skipped and I simply could not believe that there was true affection there. The situation with Stone made a few valiant attempts, but the long time stretches between interactions that mattered made them fall flat.

There was a twist near the end that I enjoyed and was threaded through the story relatively well, if a little bare. I think expanding upon that and tightening up the middle would make it much more effective, as the pieces came together well enough.

I believe this book has potential, and I know that it is still currently being adjusted in some places, though I am not privvy as to what and where. I can tell a lot of thought went into building this world and I’m excited to see how these authors grow from here, but there is simply more work to be done for this particular novel.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Janine.
311 reviews53 followers
February 16, 2020
The Sigil is a dark New Adult Fantasy that hit me in the feels early on, and didn’t let go until the very end, with a gripping plot, intriguing characters that I was able to cling onto, and an interesting, if not very dark, magic system and world. The pacing was quick most of the time, but I wish it was a bit more consistent and things were made clearer.

I did enjoy having both Lake and Nova’s PoV in the book (as well as the artwork of the characters to indicate a PoV switch), both having unique and distinct voices. Lake plays off as someone wanting to find his place in the world, as he hasn’t been accepted to any of the dozen schools he’s applied to and is overshadowed by his older brother Dev, but once he’s gone, he starts to spiral until he discovers a window to a mysterious and magical world. I do love his growth as he explores the new world, while dealing with his grief, and connecting with the people he’s getting to know, and wanting to prove himself, afraid of being a nobody again. The only thing is I wish he had a bit more character to him, but I get that he’s supposed to be the “average guy” protagonist. While I wasn’t a big fan of Nova at the start (she was a bit too abrasive), I understood her motivations and character arc, and enjoyed her water based insulting nicknames for Lake as they added a bit of humor to the story. Nova’s PoV was in only a handful of chapters, and while it brought an added dimension to the story, I thought she needed to have a few more chapters and possibly introduced a bit earlier than she did, it was almost 1/4th of the way through before she got a PoV chapter.

The rest of the cast felt developed enough, though I didn’t feel sad for Dev’s death initially, as I didn’t feel like I knew him enough before he was killed to cling onto him, but we learn more about him later on. Maybe if I connected to him before he died, it would have made things better. And while the rest of the magical cast was fleshed out, each with motivations and heartbreaking backstories, I had my occasional issues with figuring out who was who. A couple of characters felt like they faded into the background.

The prose sometimes read clean, but other times did not, as phrases were repeated 2-3 times within a span of a page or so and some of the phrasing was a bit confusing. While I was able to understand the world and the magic, and thought it was very gripping and added a dark mood with everything that was happening, I wish certain aspects were made clearer earlier on, especially on parts of the setting. This book is rather dark, dealing with lots of death, graphic violence (which is why I put it in New Adult), emotional abuse, and it hit me in the heart several times throughout with all the anguish, especially dealing with Dev, though there’s bits of heartwarming and comedic bits to balance it out somewhat. I liked the aspect of the magical vs. non magical creatures, while not exactly new, brought it’s own twist. There’s this mystery aspect that I wasn’t sure how it would play out at first, but by the end of the story, as the pieces of the plot came together, I was hooked to see how it would end, and was enjoyable to get through. Though I wished the pacing was a bit more consistent, as the beginning is a bit slow and it takes a few chapters to really get interesting with the magical aspects, and it sorta goes fast, then slow, then fast again.

Also to note, the formatting is a bit off in spots with incomplete sentences, paragraphs not spaced correctly, so it looked odd in my e-reader where I thought was a scene break wasn’t actually one.

The climax and the cliffhanger ending has me looking forward to what happens next in the series. If I had to rate this, it would be more of a 3.5 than a 3.

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Althea.
417 reviews135 followers
September 27, 2022
I really, really enjoyed this queer, Black fantasy debut novel and I'm embarrassed by how long it took me to finally read it! I was so lucky to receive an eARC copy of this book from the author, so please be aware that there were changes still to be made following the copy I read and I have also taken this into account re. my rating and review!

This is a dual perspective novel told through the eyes of a human with no magic - a gida - called Lake and a girl attending a mysterious magic school who feels like she isn't living up to expectations of her since her magic hasn't fully blossomed - Nova. Lake and Nova...my sweet angels! Both main characters are Black, Lake is gay and Nova is multiple gender-attracted. Plus, we get some incredible fat representation in the form of Nova - she's fat and wears it as a badge of pride and that was so unbelievably refreshing, I loved her! The two are excellent main characters, and alongside a slew of quirky side characters, they really made the story for me.

The setting of a magic school is nothing new in literature, but I loved that this one had a modern feel to it, with aspects that felt reminiscent of the H**** P***** series and Shadowhunters - so, perfect for jaded fans of those two worlds - and yet still had an original streak to it. It really was a lot of fun, and I think learning about it through the eyes of Lake, who has no magical ability, was a great way of tackling this, though I do want to explore the world more (hopefully in the sequel!).

One element I was really not expecting was the "horror" element of it. There are these horrible, grotesque, murderous creatures that attack Lake on several occasions throughout the book - and wow, are they creepy! I've said it in previous reviews, but I oftentimes find it quite hard to picture monsters or evil creatures all that well while reading which really takes me out of the story, but let me tell you, I could picture these and they were both terrifying and unnerving!

I did have a couple little complaints, though, but I am not aware as to whether or not these have been changed in the final edition of the book. Firstly the ableist language. There are two (I believe) instances of this happening, the most prominent being a throwaway comment made by Nova about another character being "scared of little people". Obviously, this is not okay in any way shape or form, and I really hope that it has been removed. There is also a very small HP reference in the form of an innuendo pertaining to a 'chamber of secrets'. Please, enough of the references!! I also felt like this was much more young adult-leaning than an adult novel and though this isn't a complaint in the slightest, I feel like it should be marketed as such as it really was such a fun adventure, though it wasn't what I expected going in (but I was pleasantly surprised!).

Aside from a few formatting and grammatical errors due to the nature of the ARC, I really thoroughly enjoyed this book and feel really confident recommending it to fans of YA fantasy novels. And of course, after that explosive ending, I need my hands on the sequel ASAP!!

Thanks to the author for an eARC in return for an honest review - all opinions are my own!
Profile Image for Ren.
407 reviews7 followers
December 27, 2020
This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review - This is an advanced copy of the rewrite out in March.

One major thing I noticed throughout this book that kind of caught my eye were a few teeny tiny typoes (mostly shifting point of view to first person by accident) and I can let those go because this is an advanced reading copy, but I just wanted to make note of it just in case it passes to the final version. On that note, let's get into it!

This book hooked me from the beginning. The magic system is in depth and explained simply, which is my biggest takeaway in any fantasy novel. There were some really good twists and turns here, and I love where it's going. Well, not love because it's optimistic, but love because it's so interesting! The cliffhanger has me wanting so, so much more out of this and I'm so ready for the next one.

I will say, I loved most of the characters in this. Lake is super awesome, and Knox might actually be the best, but there's something about Nova that I just wasn't into. She's mostly just kind of annoying and grated on my nerves, but that's personal taste. Lake, however, is everything I want out of a protragonist. A little reluctant, but willing to go all in when he has to, and pushing himself towards danger for the people he cares about. It reminded me of some character, but I can't quite place it; however I've been reading a lot of fantasy lately and that's not an uncommon character trait there so I'm not surprised. All in all, though, he's just a really good kid! And I love him as a character. Knox became like, my personal fave so fast, though. I'm a sucker for the tiny smart kid type, and he's just out here doing his best and now I'm mad.

All in all, not bad! I believe this is a debut, I'd definitely recommend it if you like interesting fantasy with cool hooks. There's a ton of different ways this could go, and I'm hype to see what happens next.
Profile Image for Paige.
1,695 reviews73 followers
July 21, 2020
Disclaimer: I received this ebook from the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Sigil

Author: Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville

Book Series: The Sigil Book 1

Rating: 4.5/5

Diversity: gay Black main charcter

Recommended For...: LGBT, fantasy, urban fantasy, magic

Publication Date: January 27, 2020

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Recommended Age: 16+ (slight violence, slight gore)

Publisher: Indie Published

Pages: 385

Synopsis: Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville hit the ground running with The Sigil: A Novel, a stunning, tearjerking, edge of your seat dark urban fantasy that mixes magic, betrayal, friendship, and romance.


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

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.

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?

Review: Overall, I thought this book was excellent! The story immediately grabbed my attention and refused to let me go. The book has unique ideas and excellent world building. I also liked the world building and I thought this was the strongest part of the book.

The only issue I had was that the book was a bit too fast paced in some areas, but for the most part I really enjoyed this!

Verdict: Definitely a must have!
Profile Image for Kim.
86 reviews1 follower
March 18, 2020
"Holy sh-" indeed.
I need the second book right now!
On another note: I really like the book!
Both main ptotagonists are so different but it fit right into the book and the story (Can we speak about the character art? I loved it! So beautiful drawn!) Nova's no shit attitude really spoke to me. Also the main characters are diverse (mute, poc, gay, adopted, plus size) and it's really good to read.
At first I head a difficult time to get into the story and get to know Lake, because it seemed like all you knew about him are his college rejections and that he loves his family. But after the first 20% I was intrigued! The magic system is different from everything I've read till today and it's interesting, The role of the gidas in this story is finally important and not only mages can save the day!
The book in some ways like the adult version of Harry Potter?! But in most ways it's a really great story of friendship, family and magic!
I can only recommend it!
Profile Image for Dawn.
1,104 reviews43 followers
December 19, 2020
*Please note: This book was still a work in progress at the time of writing this review*

In a time when the world is crying out for more inclusive fiction, "The Sigil" takes the lead by portraying characters (who are too often disrespected in real life) in a way that clearly says "Hey! We're just normal people" in a setting that is anything but normal (except in fiction!). The story is brilliant, and gained lots of smiles, a few tears, and a couple of utterances of "uh oh" from me. The writing is warm and genuine... It feels more like a friend is telling you this story. Please don't pass this one up if you get the chance to read it.

My thanks to the author. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
Profile Image for Jacob Rundle.
Author 4 books168 followers
March 8, 2020
I received an e-copy of this novel from Netgalley for a true and honest review. I rate it 5/5. Why do you ask? Well, buckle up...because I'm going to tell you. So, any good story has 3 components: Character/goal, conflict, and stakes, and I feel that Shakeil and Larissa did a fantastic job. The characters were so realistic and relatable. I love seeing a novel with a LGBTQIA+ main character. There were so many ups and downs that the novel held my attention. I WANTED to read the story. I feel that is the most important thing. Did I want to continue? YES. The stakes were high for Lake and Nova! These had two perspectives which can be difficult in 1st when not done right. The characterizations were well written.
Don't get me wrong....there were some holes in the story (I'm not spoiling anything) and I was left a little confused, BUT for some reason...I didn't care. I was so enthralled by the story that I came out of my trance-like state on the last page. If you like a dark urban fantasy...pick up a copy of this!
182 reviews2 followers
April 6, 2020
I requested a review copy of this book and here's my honest review.

This was a bit of a slow starter for me and took a bit to really get into it.
I can't quite pinpoint exactly what Lake (m.c) wants other than to get into the magic school, which made it difficult to work out the plot for me.
Overall, it was an ok story, though I'm not sure I will read anymore of the series.
Profile Image for Agostina.
8 reviews10 followers
August 11, 2020
An ordinary boy who wants to be extraordinary.

The debut novel by Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville is set in our world where magic is just around the corner. Our protagonist, Lake Smithson, longs to be someone in this world. He finds himself at a school of magic, and does everything in his power to belong there.

I had some problems with the pace of the book. In my opinion, it could do with a bit more conflict in the beginning. The last part was stronger.

According to Amazon, this book is being re-edited at the moment, and I look forward to reading the final version.
Profile Image for Nancy (The Avid Reader).
2,242 reviews94 followers
December 5, 2020
The Sigil drew me in from the beginning as I watched Lake watch his brother Devlin die right before his eyes. I was in tears, tears were streaming down my face, I mean I couldn’t see the words on the page. The Sigil was so vividly written I could see it all playing out in my head and I could feel what the characters were feeling.

It was like I could see Lake ducking down behind a small freezer peeping over the top and watching as his brother dealt with the robber. I felt as if maybe Devlin could see Lake there and he was trying to protect his brother by getting the robber’s attention on himself. The tears didn’t stop there. No, they were more later whenever Lake and his parents were dealing with Devlin’s death.

At first while reading The Sigil I thought this is not fantasy but then came that big twist and everything started to change. I love how it all started out then changed gears sending the characters into a whole new world. A magical world that is hidden from humans or non-magical people.

I just love Lake and Nova with her bad*** self. I loved the twist on Nova’s story. I mean I hate what she had to give up or what happened to her but she did what her heart lead her to do. I love the magical world that was created for The Sigil. I love the idea of a hidden magical school.

The action was non-stop with twist after twist that kept me glued to the pages waiting for the next turn in the story and barely able to contain myself while waiting for what was around the next corner. I can’t wait to see what Lake and nova have in store for us in part two of The Sigil.

I highly recommend The Sigil to all fans of fantasy, magic, and magical worlds. One-click your copy of The Sigil today to begin this epic journey with Lake!
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Author 9 books140 followers
March 27, 2020
I read this in a day, and I’m a super picky reader with book commitment problems. THAT’S how great THE SIGIL by Shakeil Kanish (@kanish_shakeil) and Larissa Mandeville is. There’s the same addictive energy as The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and The Magicians. Fans of these series will obsess over this book.

You’ll immediately fall in love with this LGBTQ dark fantasy. The plot is action-packed and blood-soaked with perfect pacing and epic concepts. This book has everything — a school for mages, a unique magic system based on sigils, monsters, and other dimensions, to name a few. Most of all, it’s a coming-of-age story with lovable, relatable characters in an inclusive, diverse cast. Everyone will find themselves reflected in someone.

And last, this line from the Acknowledgments really resonated with me:

“I hope it makes you feel that even though you may feel normal, your chance to do something special is always just around the corner.”

EXCEPTIONAL!
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