The Sigil

A Novel

Fiction - Magic/Wizardry
455 Pages
Reviewed on 02/04/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

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.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Sigil is a work of fantasy fiction filled with magic and suspense, and it was penned by author duo Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville. Chock full of suspense, interpersonal drama and magical realism themes, this modern and highly entertaining tale can be read by young adult and adult audiences alike. Our central protagonists are Lake – whose perfect world is turned upside down by a tragic event, leaving him with nothing and nowhere to turn – and Nova, a determined and downtrodden young woman with a thirst to prove herself. When Lake arrives in Nova’s world, his presence sparks a series of events that neither can ever forget.

There is a great number of LGBTQ+ books that focus only on that issue and set it in contemporary, non-speculative times, so it is truly wonderful to see genre fiction becoming as inclusive and rich as this. Author duo Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville hit the nail on the head for characterization, with such unique voices in Lake and Nova that they feel as though they’ve become personal friends to the reader by the end of the novel. The work is conceptually strong with excellent worldbuilding to make the magical elements feel realistic and never cheesy. I also loved the dialogue for its age-authentic representation of the protagonists, and the atmospheric lexical choices of the authors immerse us in a cinematically described world to complete the package. Overall, The Sigil is essentially a perfect read for magic and fantasy fans: everything you could hope for in a modern fantasy novel.

K.J. Simmill

In Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville's The Sigil, we meet Lake, who idolized his brother and was everything he aspired to be. Brilliant, clever, successful. So when tragedy strikes, Lake's world is torn apart in more ways than he can imagine. Through his grief he encounters a secret his brother had been harboring; another world within their own, one where magic is real. Lake found his brother's invitation to a special school, and with Dev lost, his parents in mourning, and no prospects of his own, Lake decided to accept the invitation in his brother's stead. Little did he know what he was getting into. His presence caused a stir, and things not seen for a long time began to emerge, threatening the existence of both worlds.

Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville's The Sigil is a gripping urban fantasy suitable for new adults and older. In places, this well-devised novel reminded me of a cross between the TV series the Magicians, and Earthsea. Lake, a boy unaware of magic's reality, is taken to a secret school for those who have the necessary genes to use faeri. Through his first-person perspective, coupled with Nova's, the reader is thrust into an imaginative world of magic, mayhem, and danger. Within this escalating plot is also a tale of friendship and healing, deception and betrayal. The characters are well created, with deep, unique, and vivid personalities. There are scenes that will move you to tears, and surprises in store that will leave you amazed. Whimsical, magical, and moving, The Sigil will appeal to a wide range of fantasy lovers, especially those who enjoy character-driven plots.

Rabia Tanveer

The Sigil: A Novel by Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville is a story that focuses on two very strong yet vulnerable young adults as they take a gamble at life. Nova is gifted, but she isn’t really appreciated in her community so she is not sure where she belongs. However, that is enough to give her the boost to work harder and make a name for herself. But when her life is interrupted by someone she wasn’t expecting, things don’t go to plan. On the other hand, adopted into the perfect family, Lake couldn’t have asked for a better family. However, when tragedy hits him right where it hurts the most, Lake doesn’t know where he belongs. When Nova and Lake meet, they realize that together they can find the answers they are looking for. Can they make it work?

Very interesting and well-written, The Sigil: A Novel by Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville is an incredible novel and I believe it will be enjoyed by readers of all ages. You can easily find little pieces of yourself in Lake and Nova; they are universal characters that make you feel comfortable and understood. They wear their hearts on their sleeves; they make you understand them on a personal level and you cannot help but cheer them on. I was invested in their stories, I needed to know more about them and I absolutely enjoyed their reactions. They make a great team too; they aren’t the most compatible but somehow they work really well together. The plot is amazing and it flows well. I hope the authors are planning on making this a series because this is a great story.


The Sigil is an exciting and action filled book about a gay boy of color who is sucked into a dangerous world of magic. An excellent read.

Courtney Coney

This book is a must read! The suspense kept me on edge from literally beginning to end. Would most definitely recommend to someone looking for an action filled book that will keep you guessing!