Review: Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: ARC
Publisher: Del Rey (May 3rd 2011)
How I got this book: free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program
Links: Amazon Goodreads

Blurb from Goodreads:

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.

My rating: 3/5 Stars – It had its moments, but I had some significant problems with it.

Review:

I’m kind of torn on this one.  On the one hand, it was fast paced, exciting, fun, and humorous.  On the other hand, it’s a little muddled, has a couple of plot holes, and is occasionally silly to the point of being cheesy.  I enjoyed it, but I honestly don’t know whether I would recommend it to someone else.  So here is what I liked and what I didn’t – you decide.
 

Hounded has an interesting premise – a 2,100 year old Druid, along with the Celtic god of death, a magic sword, a pack of werewolves, and a witch, face down the villainous Celtic god of love.  Sounds fun, right?  It is certainly is a fun read, with enough action to move the plot along at a fast clip.  My first problem, though, was with the mythology.  It’s cool that Atticus is a Druid and gets to use his awesome Druid powers to fight bad guys, and I also like how random Celtic gods keep showing up to mess with him.  But this story doesn’t just embrace Irish mythology – it tries to encompass every mythology.  That’s right, every god and monster known to man is real, including Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Allah, Thor, vampires, ghouls, and so on.  While this premise provides the potential for all kinds of craziness and trouble to ensue, it also muddies the waters a bit too much in my opinion.  It feels like the author is trying to do everything and the story could easily get out hand with all these supernatural figures running around.  Perhaps it would have been cleaner and more plausible if it had just focused on Celtic mythology and left the rest alone.

Despite the muddled world building, the plot was pretty good.  The identity of the villain is no secret, but the loyalties of the various gods and witches are never certain.  Almost everyone has ulterior motives, and it’s not easy to figure out who’s trustworthy and who’s not.  That being said, there were a couple of tiny plot holes that really bugged me.  You’ll recognize them when you find yourself thinking, “That… doesn’t make sense.”

The characters are likable, if not realistic.  Atticus acts like he’s fifteen at times, but he’s a hero you can root for.  My favorite character by far is Atticus’ Irish wolfhound, Oberon.  He’s funny and adorable, and he’s largely responsible for why I like Atticus.  The Celtic gods are also intriguing, and several of them have the hots for Atticus.  It’s not sexy so much as it’s silly and amusing, but it doesn’t reach the level of cheesy that is the character Mrs. MacDonagh, the elderly, Irish widow that lives in Atticus’ neighborhood.  I think she’s supposed to provide comic relief, but her antics and attitudes border on the ridiculous.  No one would act the way she does, making her character little more than a cartoon.  Some of the other supporting characters are thin as well, but that’s to be expected in a first installment when the cast is just starting be introduced.

Regardless of its deficiencies, Hounded gets major points for making me laugh out loud.  Atticus has some pretty cheesy one-liners, but other parts are truly hilarious.  For example, I was cracking up as I read the paragraph where Atticus explains how he is able to cry on cue.  (I won’t spoil it.)  Oberon’s obsession with Genghis Khan and French poodles also gave me some genuine laughs.

Overall, Hounded is funny and entertaining, an enjoyable read despite the problems I have with the overambitious mythology, the plot holes, and the cheesy characters.  It’s a decent debut with plenty of room for improvement as the series progresses.  I might pick up the next book, Hexed, when I feel in the mood for some light reading and a few laughs.

Reading Order:
Hounded
Hexed (coming June 7th 2011)
Hammered (coming July 5th 2011)

Also reviewed at:

All Things Urban Fantasy – 4/5
Fantasy Book Critic

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About Lesley

I love big dogs, ravioli, and all things nerdy. Books are my crack.
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