Hounded by Kevin Hearne
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.
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.
One of my favourite urban fantasies is Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series. The first book in the series is called Hounded, which is the book I’ll be reviewing today. Is it young adult or new adult? I bought it from the YA section, but I would guess it probably leans towards the older end of YA, or perhaps has even pushed itself into NA territory. (There are mature themes, some swearing, and a fade-to-black sex scene).
I’ve heard a lot of people compare the Iron Druid series to The Dresden Files which is something on my to-read list but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Hounded is written in first person but it’s written well, so it didn’t often distract me. The point of view characters all have wonderful levels of snark, so it’s enjoyable to read. With good pacing and descriptions, and humour throughout, it makes for an enjoyable read. The first few chapters start out a bit slow, but then it quickly picks up all the way to the last page. One of the best attributes of this book is the research it appears Hearne has done. It’s not a book where you get a whole heap of info dumping that says “hey, look here. I did research. Now I will share that with you.” Instead, the research is weaved into the narrative effortlessly and makes for an exciting read.
So, onto the actual story. Atticus O’Sullivan is a 21 year old who works in a new age store selling books, herbs, teas, and all sorts of nick-nacks. Or is he? He’s actually an ancient druid hiding from a whole host of magical creatures and deities who want him dead. His two friends, Leif (a vampire), and Hal (a werewolf), are his attorneys. And his Irish Wolfhound companion, Oberon, can communicate with him. Oberon is obsessed with poodles and sausages. His banter with Atticus is excellent.
You’d expect a druid who is older than two thousand years to be pretty dry and boring, callous and wise, and that is everything that Atticus is not. Atticus has fully adapted to his persona of a 21 year old and never really learns from his mistakes. Being the last druid on Earth should have made him so cautious a story about drying paint would be more interesting, but Atticus enjoys pushing boundaries and teasing creatures that can kill him with a flick of their wrist. It makes for many entertaining—and life threatening—adventures.
Being a druid, he has several magical abilities that all derive their power from the Earth, and Atticus’ connection to it. The magic element of this book is really engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed the freedoms and limitations Atticus experiences. He uses his powers for good, but sometimes he’ll do something just for a giggle.
The plot is driven by an inciting incident that happened two thousand years ago. Atticus stole Manannan Mac Lir’s sword, Fragarach. Also known as The Answerer, the sword has two special properties: 1. It can be used to force an answer out of someone. 2. It can cut through any armour as easy as softened butter. Manannan Mac Lir, Celtic God of the Sea, wants it back and has been searching for Atticus this whole time. Finally, Atticus trips up and Manannan is alerted to Atticus’ hideout in Arizona.
Atticus is now on the run, defending himself from this angry god. Some of the Irish Gods are on his side and offer him assistance, like The Morrigan, Goddess of Death, but there are more that are working against him. Atticus and Oberon must face many obstacles if they are to stay alive.
Overall, I give this book a 4/5 stars. It’s a little silly and cheesy at times, but overall the fast pace, action, humour, and snarky characters make for an entertaining read. I love mythology, and the Irish lore that comes through is excellent.
Matthew is a Western Australian local who somehow manages to find time to write between working as a physiotherapist, teaching group fitness classes, and getting distracted with his dog’s incessant demands for attention. Matthew enjoys reading and writing a wide variety of genres, but there will always be a special place in his heart for anything magical.