Monday, August 08, 2011

"Hounded" by Kevin Hearne-- Lighthearted, Funny Urban Fantasy

Pillow talk in the modern era often involves the sharing of childhood stories or perhaps an exchange of dream vacations. One of recent partners, a lovely lass named Jesse with a tattoo of Tinker Bell on her right shoulder blade (about as far from a real faery as one can get), had wanted to discuss a science-fiction television program, Battlestar Galactica, as a political allegory for the Bush years. When I confessed I had no knowledge of the show nor any interest in getting to know it or anything about American politics, she called me a "frakkin' Cylon" and stormed out of the house, leaving me confused but somewhat relieved.

~Excerpt from Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

With the current glut of paranormal fiction finding something new is almost as important as finding something good. Thankfully, "Hounded" by Kevin Hearne is both.

Atticus O'Sullivan is a very old Druid-- born before Jesus old-- and the last of his kind. He looks twenty one and happily plays the part of the slightly daft owner of an occult apothecary/bookstore. But Atticus (or Siodhachan as he's known to the Celtic gods) has been dodging Aenghus Óg, the not-so-loving Celtic god of love and poetry, for centuries over the possession of the sword Fragarach-- also known as "The Answerer."

But something bigger is brewing than a fight over a sword. Whatever Aenghus Óg has in mind is stirring up all of Tír na nÓg and suddenly Atticus finds himself with a bevy of goddesses showing up on his doorstep-- and none of them are telling him the truth. Thankfully Atticus has his faithful Irish wolfhoud Oberon (who can speak to Atticus through a telepathic link) and his team of lawyers (vampire and werewolf) to help him fight a battle that's beginning to look a lot like a full-fledged war between the gods.

"Hounded" is a highly-quotable blast of a book. It's by turns silly, lighthearted, full of action and has tons of pop-culture references sure to appeal to the geek in all of us. It's the kind of book most readers of paranormal fiction "get"-- as you will see from the Amazon reviews. There are a few readers who complain that Atticus is far too fun-loving to be a two-thousand year old Druid, but I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that, for once, our hero isn't the angst-ridden protagonist that comes along in almost every book I read. But I don't mean to give the impression that Hearne's book is something like the ultra-silly fiction written by MaryJanice Davidson or Janet Evanovich written from a guy's point of view--because it's not. Atticus isn't an incompetent hero, he's just a hero who isn't conflicted about his place in the world. He's still living because he wants to and he's going to enjoy each day as it comes. He likes teasing his friends and he has an active libido, but he's also the kind of guy who doesn't back down from a fight.

The charm of "Hounded" comes from many elements. The sense of humor is a huge part of its appeal, but the Druidic aspects do set it apart from all the other books that primarily focus on vampires, werewolves and witches. Granted, I wouldn't know if the Druidic aspects were in any way accurate, but they give the story a different focus than others of its kind and there's something deeply appealing about a philosophy that is connected to the earth and non-judgmental about different beliefs.

The banter between Atticus and his dog Oberon is very enjoyable as well.

*Did Genghis Khan take his coffee black?* Oberon asked me. After my bathtime story, he wanted to be the Genghis Khan of dogs. He wanted a harem of French poodles, all of whom were named either Fifi or Bambi. It was an amusing habit of his: Oberon had, in the past, wanted to be Vlad the Impaler, Joan of Arc, Bertand Russell, and any other historical figure I had recently told him about while he was getting a thorough cleansing. His Liberace period had been particularly good for my soul: You haven't lived until you've seen an Irish Wolfhound parading around in rhinestone-studded gold lamé

I wish I had a dog with that much personality.

If you prefer your heroes to be the broody type, then "Hounded" isn't your kind of book. But if you prefer your escapism light and action-oriented, then you should like "Hounded" as much as I did.

4 out of 5 stars.


Simcha said...

I started this book a couple of days ago and was really enjoying it at first but then got bored when nothing much seem to happen other then one character after another showing up to either warn Atticus (and sleep with him) or kill him. Maybe I'll pick it up again and see if it gets better

SQT said...

Yeah, the character of Atticus does like his women. I don't think the set-up goes too much further than that and once you get into the action it takes up the rest of the book. It's just a fun book-- nothing too deep.

Bets Davies said...

Sounds like a great romp. I'd be interested in the Celtic detailing. I did a book dealing with it to some extent myself.