Wednesday, August 17, 2011
He waved leisurely with his right hand and said in a slow friendly voice, "Evening' Mr. Druid. I reckon you know who I am?
I relaxed and fell into the rhythm of his speech. By speaking like him, I would make him relax as well, and he'd be more likely to trust me. It was the first rule of fitting in: Talk like a native. As soon as people hear a foreign accent, it's like ringing the doorbell of xenophobia. They immediately classify you as the other instead of as a brother, and it was this fundamental aspect of human nature that Leif had seemingly forgotten. It applies to dialects and regional accents as well, which is why I'm obsessed with mimicking those properly whenever I can. Ask any Boston Yankee what happens when they get pulled over by the police in the Deep South, and they'll tell you that accent matters. So I took my time with my reply, as if I had all day to get to the end of a sentence, because that's the way my visitor spoke. "I surely do, Coyote. One question is which tribe you're callin' from this time."
~Excerpt from Hexed by Kevin Hearne
Good paranormal fiction is like brain candy. Done the right way it stimulates the brain like a decadent treat. It's sweet, easy to swallow and maybe makes you feel a little guilty for not ingesting something more substantial. But it's also nourishing to the soul in that it takes your mind off more serious matters if it's absorbing enough to suck you into the world within the pages.
I find the world of The Iron Druid Chronicles very absorbing in a brain candy kind of way.
"Hexed" is the second novel in The Iron Druid Chronicles. Following the clash with Aenghus Óg, and his subsequent victory, Atticus finds that being the hero isn't exactly what he expected as his reputation as a god-killer has a lot of people checking in on him to make sure he isn't targeting them next-- or they're trying to hire Atticus to take care of their problematic gods. But the last thing Atticus is looking for is another battle with the gods; he's more interested in cleaning up the mess from the last one.
Seeking to simplify his life, and hoping to have a home he can inhabit permanently, Atticus agrees to sign a non-aggression treaty with the local coven of witches. As good as the sounds, it turns out to be a problem when other supernatural threats, including a group of Bacchants and a scary coven of strangely glam-rock witches, decide that they want to make Arizona their new territory-- and they'll go through Atticus to stake their claim if they have to.
I mostly only have good things to say about "Hexed" because the series is such a fun diversion. The sense of humor is, as in "Hounded," one of my favorite things. Atticus is such a breath of fresh air compared to the dour, maudlin heroes that usually come with a story about a very long-lived protagonist. Instead of the moody snark that is so frequently served up, Atticus chooses instead to mix his philosophical ramblings with a healthy dose of good humor.
"Hexed" isn't just a re-tread of "Hounded." A lot of the same characters show up for this second installment, but the focus widens to include figures from other religious pantheons, including one incarnation of Coyote, the trickster god of the Native American Indians, as well as the Virgin Mary. Hearne doesn't invent the notion that deities gain power through the belief of their followers, but he does add his own twist to the notion by using that belief to show them in corporeal form. And I like the idea that Atticus could conceivably sit down and have a beer with Jesus in the near future. (Not to mention his ability to really *know* the answer to What would Jesus do?)
One minor complaint I have about "Hexed" is that the light tone does tend to permeate the entire story and plot-points that should have more weight, like the death of someone close to the main character, are glossed over and it's hard to care too much about the characters when their passing elicits so little reaction from those who should care. Clearly Atticus saves his emotional attachments for his dog Oberon. Additionally Atticus has such a convenient ability to heal when he's in contact with the earth that he's probably more bulletproof than he should be: It's tough to worry about your hero when most injuries are minor inconveniences.
Despite my few critiques, I still maintain that The Iron Druid Chronicles is one of the better paranormal series' that I've had the pleasure of reading. It does everything it should as far as delivering action, humor and an inventive story. It has likable characters and the consistency and follow-thorough that I often complain is lacking in light-weight fiction. Definitely a series I will continue reading.
4 out of 5 stars.