Kissing. References to sex.
Atticus O’Sullivan has been running for two thousand years and he’s a bit tired of it. After he stole a magical sword from the Tuatha Dé Danann (those who became the Sidhe or the Fae) in a first century battle, some of them were furious and gave chase, and some were secretly amused that a Druid had the cheek to defy them. As the centuries passed and Atticus remained an annoyingly long-lived fugitive, those who were furious only grew more so, while others began to aid him in secret.
Now he’s living in Tempe, Arizona, the very last of the Druids, far from where the Fae can easily find him. It’s a place where many paranormals have decided to hide from the troubles of the Old World—from an Icelandic vampire holding a grudge against Thor to a coven of Polish witches who ran from the German Blitzkrieg.
Unfortunately, the very angry Celtic god who wants that sword has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power, plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good, old-fashioned luck of the Irish to kick some arse and deliver himself from evil.
It seems like an urban fantasy prerequisite these days for the protagonist to have a comic relief sidekick. Harry Dresden has a possessed skull named Bob, Rachel Morgan has Jenks the pixie, and Atticus O’Sullivan has an Irish Wolfhound named Oberon. Oberon, more than any of the other well drawn characters in Kevin Hearne’s clever, Celtic mythology infused debut, HOUNDED, was my favorite. He thinks like a dog, but the way Hearne communicated those thoughts was endlessly entertaining. He had a childlike enthusiasm that came across perfectly.
Atticus too had a great ‘voice.’ He struck just right balance between witty modern vernacular with the occasional ancient colloquialism that it made him 100% believable as a millennial old Druid with the body of a twenty-one year old. He had a laid back coolness factor that belied a razor sharp mind. One of the best debut protagonists I’ve read in a long time.
An Arizona girl myself, it was great fun to read a book literally set in my backyard. I think I’ve been to every location mentioned in HOUNDED and can vouch for the grub at the Rula Bula Irish pub in Tempe. At the same time, because I was so familiar with the setting, it was probably harder for me to wrap my head around the idea of all these supernatural creatures living in and around my old stomping grounds.
But it wasn’t the setting that kept HOUNDED from skyrocketing onto my all time favorites list, it was the plot. It’s pretty thin and takes it’s sweet time getting started. The first hundred pages or so deal primarily with Atticus getting unwanted visitors and introducing us to some of the characters who will no doubt populate the series. An old enemy wants something that Atticus stole from him centuries ago. He sends wave after wave of attackers after Atticus to get it back. That’s pretty much it. If the characters and writing style hadn’t been so compelling, the weak plot would have been a problem.
Overall, a really strong debut full of primary and secondary characters who could all probably carry a series on their own, they are that good. The plot may not have been the strong suit, but the narrative style and voice of Atticus and Oberon more than made up for it. If you like a sprawling pantheon along side the more traditional urban fantasy vampires, werewolves, and witches, you’re going to love this book. The good news is that you won’t have to wait the usual six months to a year for the next Iron Druid Chronicles book. Del Rey is releasing the first three books back to back: HOUNDED will come out May 3, HEXED on June 7, and HAMMERED on July 5. The fourth book in the series is called TRICKED, but does not yet have a release date.
About the author
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