Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne
The first novel in an original, back-to-back three-book series The Iron Druid Chronicles—introducing a cool, new, funny urban fantasy hero
Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.
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Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.
I bought Hounded in an airport. I’d seen a lot of buzz about the book online but my book-buying budget is small this summer and with so many upcoming releases by my favourite authors, I was willing to wait for Hounded to show up at the public library. But then I was waiting for a very long plane ride and didn’t have a thing to read so I figured that was a good enough excuse to invest in Kevin Hearne‘s first published novel. (The next two novels in the series come out in June and July so it could be an Atticus-filled summer for me.) But enough about how I ended up reading Hounded and more about the actual content of the book…
Atticus O’Sullivan is a great protagonist. Having lived for 2,000 years, he’s full of wisdom and magical know-how but he’s also youthful in spirit (and body, thanks to special herbs he brews up). Atticus has a great sense of humour that counters the potential gravitas of being the only Druid left in the world, on the run from an angry god. He also has an awesome wolfhound named Oberon who also provides a lot of comic relief, for both Atticus and the reader. The combo of Atticus and Oberon would win over even the least enthusiastic reader, which I definitely was not, since I finished the book before I got off the plane. And if that’s not enough, Atticus’ interactions with his widowed neighbour should bring a smile to your face.
Plot-wise, Hounded is great. There are characters who seem like random folks in Atticus’ life but end up being central to the storyline, there are some great twists and godly machinations, and there are some truly awesome fight scenes. And all of this is set against a really cool background. Kevin Hearne’s done a great job of building a neat world in Tempe, AZ, where there are witches, werewolves, and vampires, all sort of doing their own thing. I also love that the author is using Celtic mythology as the main focus of the novel, though gods from other pantheons are also mentioned and will likely figure into things down the road, if I’m not mistaken.
In some ways, Atticus reminds me a lot of Remy Chandler. They both have super powers of sorts, they both have an adorable dog companion with whom they communicate telepathically, they’re both going their own way, and they’re both subject to the whims of more powerful beings, whether they like it or not. They’re also both rare male protagonists in the overwhelmingly female world of urban fantasy — and well written to boot. But what really separates the two is the Atticus fully embraces the life he has, running his shop, pretending to be a 21-year-old, while doing his best to survive whatever’s thrown at him, which includes a goddess who wants answers and sexual favours at the beginning of the novel. Remy, in contrast, has a lot more sorrow in his life. (You’ll hear more about this soon, as I’ve just finished reading Remy’s second adventure, and it’s a doozy.)
I think I’m going to have to run out and get Hexed now. *sigh*