Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles #1
Publisher: Del Rey (May 15, 2007)
Length: 292 pages
Mythology and fantasy, sometimes a road crash, sometimes the best read – this sits in the middle thinking which way to turn first.
Hounded by Kevin Hearne is like a botanist taking the role of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, minus the wooden stakes! Set in an alternate timeline, it’s a supernatural jaunt, with werewolves, witches and what not. It’s fun, with lots of witty dialogue between Atticus O’Sullivan and Oberon, his dog, who can talk. If I’m honest I was concerned I was going to be reading a typical urban fantasy novel – that being one of Caligula’s bacchanalia romps. Thankfully not!
The essence of the story goes something like this; Atticus a 2100 year old druid, stole a sword named Fragarach [the Answerer] from Aenghus Og, a rather detestable god, even for the one who represents love. Atticus has been on the run for over 1000 years and decides, while no, actually is forced to go “balls out” as he so elegantly puts it, against his would be assassin’s. Throw in a few other gods, a witches’ coven along with werewolves and a rather polite vampire, then we’ve got the basics of the story.
Have you ever come across that writer who seems unable to write believable dialogue between characters? The type that makes you pull that Harrison Ford face, wherein you read something and think, really? You know the face that he plays from Decker to Han Solo. I’m sure you do. Kevin Herne has a real gift, given this is his first novel in the Iron Druid Chronicles. Conversations between Atticus and his Irish Wolfhound are brilliant, they just zip off the page and bound along. It’s really rare for me to chuckle away to myself while reading, so bravo. Speaking of Oberon, he is by far the best dog-character I’ve come across. He beats Scooby, Pluto and even Brian from Family Guy. I mean Brian is OK if you like the British pompous-pomp he regards for wit.
So what of Atticus – well is he badass, even for a druid. He draws his power (literally) from the Earth. He looks 21, not bad for a 2100 years old. Certainly moans like a 21 year old. He owns a shop in Arizona called Third Eye Books which sales herbs and various occult items – standard stuff for a university tow, let’s be honest. Perry is his one and only employee, a massive goth who reminded me of Spike from Buffy – in regards to his persona anyway. One of Atticus’s closes friends is Widow MacDonagh, who lives a few doors down from him in a quint suburb in Arizona – she hates the Brits and loves whiskey. Sounds Irish to me. As I’ve mentioned, Atticus having Fragarach (an actual sword from Irish legend) sets of a chain of events that have him fighting for his life.
On the way we meet several interesting personalities, The Morrigan, who I believe is the Celtic God for slain. She has that rare ability to be both darkly beautiful and scary as hell at the same time. Yes, I’ve been to plenty of rock/metal gigs, so know the type. The type I’ve met don’t have the ability to change into a squawking crow at will. The Morrigan has helped Atticus in the past, namely with the ‘borrowing’ of Fragarach. They’ve a very ‘urban’ relationship, In the sense that they flirt outrageously. Two other interesting characters were the werewolf/vampire-lawyer team Hal and Leif. Both former Vikings – both allies of Atticus – mainly because his blood is a rare vintage – like Moet you say? No, try a rare vintage of Dom Perignon. Well they enjoy a glass of vintage Atticus, let’s put it like that.
One of Hounded best appeals is also its worst. Characters. For just under 300 pages it gets bogged down in the amount of characters showing up at Atticu’s door. It got on my nerves towards the end – I mean the finale was afoot and before Atticus could get there, two Gods turn up separately to impart their wisdom and a phone call warning him of further danger. This, while a few of his friends are in danger and he is less than a mile or two away. I was thinking, if I wanted your pearls of wisdom I would have asked for them when I saw you previously. Are there other pitfalls. I mean it’s urban fantasy, c’mon Stu! Well, no, would be the short answer, there aren’t. It’s a really good read. There I said it. I complimented a Urban Fantasy novel. Now I’ll go eat some humble pie. ALL OF IT!
Hounded has certainly had spit and polish applied aplenty, it was a debut novel, so they tend to have a lot of hours focused upon them. It’ll be interesting to see how Kevin Hearne’s novels progress, not just in plot but how he handles releasing yearly additions to the series. I’ve got to say I was pleasantly surprised given some of the tags urban fantasy has – rightly so with some authors, dig your own self-fulfilling prophecy why’dont’cha. Kevin Hearne breathes life into some myths and makes some believable, others, not so much. Aenghus Og comes to mind, the God of Love. Hmm, in no way convinced. But then Gods don’t really exist, it’s all a fictional tale, just like this one. Right? Who knows.
Contributed by Stuart West.
About Stuart (In his own words):
Stuart: Well I’m a contributor towards Bookwraiths content. When it comes to writing reviews I like to think I’m sat chatting with someone rather than at them; so my style can be conversational and abrasive at times. Read at your own peril!
In the 80s I grew up with books such as; The Famous Five and Secret Seven throw in an uncle who was obsessed with comics such as; The Beano, Topper, Asterix and Obelix, Batman and The Incredible Hulk. You’ll get some idea of the adventures that I got up to.
I’m all about fiction that doesn’t hold any punches that gets stuck in and takes you on a ride where terminal velocity means your fingers are going to burn the pages as you turn them. Apply Aloe Vera where needed! Favourite current authors include (how long do you have?) Dan Abnett, Jame Clavell, Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow and Anthony Ryan.
Outside of reading I’m a big fan of Rugby Union, I play and watch. I live in the United Kingdom and have two nephews to put through super heroes’ school. I’ve not told them I’m the anti-hero of the story yet.