If you like your Jim Butcher, then you are in for a treat with this one. Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles have been around for some time now – enthralling readers with its original sardonic wit flying faster than the blinding action and giving us urban fantasy’ best lead pair ever in Atticus & Oberon.
Wouldn’t be far from the truth if I claim that Kevin Hearne has given us a refreshing twist to the Urban Fantasy tales – venturing as far away as possible from the cross-breed half-human half-fey heroine and her mysterious hot hulking vampire boyfriend saddled with protecting the universe. Hounded, Iron Druid series opener introduces us to the charming Atticus O’Sullivan, a two-thousand year old druid who looks like a normal twenty-one year old college kid and his Irish wolfhound who’s got a thing for French poodles and sausages. The book follows Atticus trying to carve out a normal living on the “Earth” plane – brewing tea & selling potions in his occult bookshop to curious college kids in Arizona, helping out widows mow their lawns and shapeshifting with his irish wolfhound to hunt down in the Arizonian mountainsides – all the time, lying low to avoid altercations with angry powerful Gods who have a score to settle with him. The thing is, our druid is no ordinary druid – having survived for more than two thousand years, he has got more than a few tricks up his sleeve. And a few unpredictable and dangerous allies. Including a pack of werewolves, the lead being his attorney at law who keeps the nosy cops from booking him in, despite of all the bloody fracas he frequently gets into – what with all other worldly demons who keep coming back to pay him “friendly” visits, his lawns are frequently mucked up with blood and grisly bits of body parts strewn around after such interesting visits – and a couple of other Goddesses, who have an unhealthy interest in the overall scheme of things being played out in the “Fey” domain for dominance and power. Atticus holds an important piece of artefact that could shift the balance of power: Fragarach, a powerful sword that can cleave through skin and iron alike that once belonged to the God of Love.
I know next to nothing about Celtic mythology. Gods or Feys or druids for that matter. For me, the book was like opening the door into a library filled with books I’ve always wanted to read but never could get my hands on. While initially I didn’t care about the slew of Irish sounding names, Kevin has a way with words that gradually makes you invested with the larger order at play. That of Gods/magical beings at conflict with each other for power. Filled with excellent world-building on the back of some excellent Irish myths and folklores, Hounded is a fun book from cover to cover. But don’t let these themes fool you. Kevin’s language is easy and perfectly suited to story-telling. Full of lively characters who will win your heart. The most engaging without doubt was the lead duo of Atticus and his wolfhound, Oberon. Irreverent banter, witty and fast quips that had me in splits half the time. One moment you are spinning around, avoiding the lance thrusts of Giants, while the other you are cracking up at Oberon’s outrageous demands for a harem of French poodles, sausages for breakfasts and his witty quips on whiney nature of werewolves.
It’s a perfect start to a new urban fantasy series – a genre I think I’m beginning to slowly savour. With his seventh book in this series now out, Kevin, a self-confessed comic-book nerd proves beyond a doubt that his isn’t a flash in the pan and he is a man whose talent is for the ages. Witches, a coven full of them (One even has an impossible Tamil name: Laksha Kulasekara, sound more Lankan to me!), shape-shifting Goddesses who smoulder and crackle with their sexuality & prowess, giants, packs of werewolves and vampire attorneys. Kevin’s thrown in all of it into this action-packed little book and the whole package is a blistering fun read. I am looking forward to read more. With six more outings, Kevin’s fleshed out his larger universe where his novels take place and from what I read, the next few get more exciting with the “hunts” upping the level of excitement. Ooh!