Tuesday 20 April 2021

Review Time! - The Sigil by Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville

'The Sigil' with an artsy black marble background

* = commission link

'The Sigil' book cover with the silhouette of a person in a hoodie, and a glowing light
Title: The Sigil*

Author: Shakeil Kanish, Larissa Mandeville

Genre: Young Adult (New Adult crossover appeal,) Fantasy, Witches(-ish,) LGBTQ+ (relationships: M/M, side M/F, refs to F/F)

A Few Starting Notes:

I received a free review copy of this book from one of the authors, Shakeil Kanish. I also follow Shakeil Kanish on Twitter, and he follows me.

This does not affect the content or fairness of my review.

This book is #OwnVoices for LGBTQ+ and People of Colour (PoC) representation.

The Premise:

We all know how it goes – a young man gets an invite to study at a magic school, bringing a life of magic and adventure.

That’s how it was supposed to go.

But this isn’t that story, because Lake isn’t that young man.

It’s not his invite. The magic school does not want him. In fact, they’d very much like him to go away.

But Lake doesn’t give up easily – he wants answers. And, perhaps even more than that, he wants to prove himself.

It just might turn out to be a little more… freaking dangerous… than he thought it would.

The Best Bits:

The characters rock – especially Lake and Knox, though I have a soft spot for Nova and Stone too, of course.

You know I always empathise with pretty much all characters way too much, right?

Yup, I did it again.

I love Lake’s ‘f**k it, some are born great but others are gonna make themselves great’ attitude. 

This dude does not give up, and I love that.

The mix of determination and insecurity was somewhat familiar to me!

And Knox is me as a smol magical boy with a demon and I feel attacked ;)

The interactions with Lake’s parents are amazing.

I love both how Queer-affirming they are, and how they somehow make that mortifyingly embarrassing in a way that made me laugh. Love it!

The horror/dark fantasy elements are great.

They sometimes feel a little out-of-nowhere – but they’re genuinely well-done and awesomely vivid.

They might be a little too dark for some people though – just a heads-up!

The whole book is really absorbing – I wanted to know what would happen next (and could rarely guess, even as familiar I am with fantasy tropes.)

This book was ‘one more chapter’-y, and that’s always a good thing!

The Not-So-Great Bits:

We gotta talk about that ending (spoiler-free, no worries) because I was NOT happy about that!

I mean… objectively, it’s an OK ending. Maybe even a good one.

But subjectively? NO. You can’t do that to me! NOOOOO!!!!


...I disapproved of the direction of the plot at the end.

There’s also a fair amount of tragedy of various sorts happening to Queer people – partly because there’s a lot of Queer characters (#LoveToSeeIt)

I know that’s a deal breaker for some people, though, so be aware of that!

I also feel like the vagueness of the magic (faerie) system, and the logistics of the dimensions, will annoy some readers.

I’m pretty live-and-let-live on the details, but I know that a lot of people like to know what’s going on, and there were moments where I did not know wtf was going on (though… there’s always a chance that’s just me!)

I don’t know whether this is due to me having a review copy (review copies are often due for further editing and proofing before publication,) but there were quite a few typos here.

...Like, enough that I wouldn’t feel right not mentioning it.

There was also some unintentional changes between first person (I/we,) and third person (she/he/they etc.) which was more than a little jarring while reading.

Content Warnings:

- death
- grief and bereavement
- murder
- violence
- guns
- blood and gore (GRAPHIC)
- horror elements
- injuries
- family issues
- adoption issues
- sexual references/adult humour
- self-esteem issues

...pretty sure that was everything, but as always, read carefully, because there’s always a chance I forgot something.

The Verdict:

I loved it.

It’s unique, heartfelt, and deeply absorbing.

If it sounds like your kind of thing, then give it a shot.


What do you think of this spin on the 'magic school invite' trope?
Does this sound like something you'd read?
Talk to me! 😊💬

You can follow me on Twitter @CeeDoraReads, on Pinterest, and on Dora Reads @ BlogLovin. For more ways to support me, check out the Support Me page

Related Reading:

Sharing and commenting is like an invitation to magic school! 💖


  1. Glad you enjoyed this, Cee! It's nice to see people putting a spin on the magic school trope, because a certain author did corrupt it and it would be nice for queer and trans people to claim it and put their own twists on it.

    1. Ha, I have no idea what you're talking about *winks* - this is very, very different from that hypothetical series though <3


Comments? I love comments! Talk to me nerdlets!