Author: Kevin Hearne
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
The Overview: 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.
World Building: The setting was great – Hearn does a great job at selling the perks of living in Arizona. You could tell he’d done a lot of reasearch on what the local flora and fauna are, and I particularly liked the way he incorporated them into the story. Let’s face it, you don’t see a lot of urban fantasies outside of big concrete-jungle cities, so it was neat to have a change of pace.
The biggest draw of world-building for me was how much information he included about druidic lore and religious culture (ancient Gods and Goddesses brought to life). These elements were great, but my favorite draw was the magic. Druidic magic is interesting enough, but Hearne took it one step further by making the protagonist a master of his own unique magical development. This ranges from the charmed necklace he wears to his extensive knowledge of herbal remedies. I thought it was well done, and I always love feeling like I’ve learned something from a book.
Character Development: The main character was well-rounded and frankly fun to read about. His cheeky attitude that referenced modern sayings while maintaining the dignity of one so old was a cool balance. Although there really wasn’t a lot of personal growth with Atticus, I liked his story. I think to keep enjoying him in future books, there’s going to have to be some sort of inner conflict, not just the external of people coming after him. I mentioned in my pre-review that I thought the author missed an opportunity to introduce a love interest. While I still think that’s true, I don’t mind that it didn’t happen in this first book. I’m also hoping for more in the future (I’ll talk about more in the “story” portion of the review).
Most of the characters were either gods and goddesses or supernatural beings of some sort. While interesting, they weren’t exactly relatable. Because of this, I latched on to some of the more “normal” people and actually found them to be the most interesting. I’m not sure the author intended this, but if he did it worked. My favorite element was actually the wolf-hound sidekick. I thought he was a charming comic relief, and I enjoyed the scenes he was in the most. He just made things more fun, and I went with the idea that he thought more like a human than a dog (although I wasn’t sure at first if it would work).
Pacing: One hit after another, this author can’t be criticized for taking things too slow. Not to say it went too fast, either. There was plenty of down time between attacks to learn more about the world and the characters. I also thought it did a good job building momentum for the climax of the book. Pacing is usually something usually talk a lot about, but with Hearne I think the best compliment I could give is that I never stopped the story to see what page I was on.
Story: I like a book with more information up front. In Hounded, we know who we’re rooting for and against right away, and I thought it gave the story a great sense of direction. The concept of finally having to face something he’s been running from for hundreds of years put the reader into the action right away.
I mentioned earlier that I love a book where I feel like I’ve learned something. Not life lessons, mind you, but things that I would never have the opportunity to learn in a magic-less world. Any time a character has a special skill or ability I latch on to those elements and almost always enjoy the book. I want to talk about it in this section because not only do these special skills help round out your character, they also makes for a much better story. Atticus’ apothecary, herbal knowledge, and special iron magic skills were fascinating to read about. One would’ve been interesting enough for me, but the fact that we get three leaves me a very happy reader.
I’m also going to bring back up the love interest for this category. I have a hard time believing that Atticus has live for two thousand years without having experienced some sort of epic love. I sincerely hope the author addresses this in future books and maybe give solid reasoning why he’s not seeking it in this day and age. I should disclaim that I thought the book was well-rounded without this element, I just think it could’ve been even better. It was the only reason the book wasn’t a solid 5/5 stars for me.
Recommendations: Overall, this was a great month in the book club world. I got to experience a great new author and see the magic in a setting not that different from where I live now. This was a great book, and I’d recommend it to those who like urban fantasies but also enjoy epic hero tales. Heck, I’d even hand this to someone looking for something “fun”. :)
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Incredible book review Niki! Do you have a column? You should! Can’t wait to pick this up!
I want to tell you how much your comment made my day! Thank you for taking the time to leave it for me. :)
I don’t have a column yet (heck, I’m not even sure how to go about landing one), but I do hope to turn this into something more than a fun hobby one day.
I hope you enjoy the book! :)