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Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

>>Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Title: Hounded
Author: Kevin Hearn
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles #1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 289
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2011
Publisher: Del Ray
Rating: B-

I have to say that I never really heard of this book or author before and decided to take a chance with it, especially since I had enjoyed reviewing for Dreams and Speculation before and wanted to do so again. The premise looked fine enough but didn't really stand out to me. Fortunately, this turned out to be quite an enjoyable read despite my (wrong) expectations.

The story is pretty straightforward: a twenty-one year old druid named Atticus (who is actually around 2000 years old) lives quietly in Arizona while trying to keep his distance from his enemy, a Celtic god who wants to reclaim a sword Atticus had taken centuries before. Atticus routinely converses with gods, witches, vampires, werewolves and all manner of mythological creatures that inhabit his world while trying not to get killed. He's accompanied by his dog Oberon, who he has taught to communicate mentally through his magic.

There's a lot to like about this book. First, Atticus himself is pretty hilarious. Humor is a large part of why I enjoyed Atticus' adventure. He has a great repertoire with Oberon and I found myself laughing out loud many times at their conversations. Oberon himself stood out to me as a great character who acts very much the canine best friend of the main character. Another highlight is the world building. You don't find many fantasy novels featuring druidic magic and I liked I got a taste of something different. Atticus draws his power from the earth and is able to shape shift. He's actually really powerful (he's had 2000 years to master his magic) but I never felt like he was invincible. Hearne populates his world by the idea that any and all mythological people and creatures actually exists in our world, however much of our experience is focused on Celtic mythology and witches and werewolves.

I found that the pacing and action was good and kept me turning the pages however, I felt like something was missing. This changed when a new character emerged near the end, a young woman named Granuaile. She makes a deal with Atticus to become his apprentice and I felt like this would be a great idea so we can see how a druid becomes a druid. This isn't yet explored in Hounded and I'm not sure it's in the sequels either. I think what I was missing was a connection between Atticus and another character (other than Oberon). The closest we get to this is with the Morrigan who has some great scenes with Atticus but they are few.

Overall, I'd recommend this book for someone looking for a good urban fantasy sans romance with extra humor and action. I enjoyed it and would like to read the next books in the series, Hexed and Hammered.

Review copy was provided by Dreams and Speculation.

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