Hounded (Iron Druid #1), by Kevin Hearne (Review and a Giveaway!)

January 10, 2013 Book Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Hounded (Iron Druid #1), by Kevin Hearne (Review and a Giveaway!)Hounded Series: Iron Druid #1
on May 3, 2011
Pages: 292
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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 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.

I received a review copy of this book from .


I won a copy of Kevin Hearne’s Hounded in a Goodreads giveaway a few months ago (have I mentioned how much I love Goodreads?)  I read it in December, and now I’m thoroughly hooked.

Hearne’s first-person series featuring an urban druid is fast-paced, suspenseful, and disarmingly funny.  Atticus O’Sullivan, the last surviving druid, has lived through 21 centuries, but his appearance is surprisingly youthful, his voice wry, irreverent, and often impudent even when faced with near-certain death.  O’Sullivan’s friend and sidekick, his wolfhound Oberon, is even funnier; he’s obsessed with Genghis Khan and lusts after French poodles (of the female variety.) Oberon’s comments create some of the best comic moments in the book.

O’Sullivan owns an occult bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, a region almost devoid of fairies (by which he means the Sidhe, or Irish Fae) but populated by a fair number of other supernatural creatures.  Unfortunately for O’Sullivan, his quiet existence is about to be broken: he has attracted the attention, for good or ill, of a number of Irish gods.  Aenghus Óg wants him dead in order to regain the sword Fragarach; the Morrigan, the Irish goddess of war and death, wants him alive; and Flidais just wants him (though like both the Morrigan and Brighid, she has a hidden agenda.)  To make matters worse, the local coven of witches appears to be gunning for him, and pretty soon the Tempe police are after him—or rather, his dog.  O’Sullivan will have to call on all his skill and cunning—not to mention his wolfhound; his day and night lawyers, a werewolf and a vampire; a local barmaid who may be possessed; and a hard-drinking Irish widow—just to stay alive.

I have to admit that my knowledge of Irish myth and legend is a bit rusty and somewhat full of holes, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book at all.  In fact, I was surprised by how much I liked Hounded; I usually prefer traditional fantasy to the urban sort.  I was expecting more grit and violence and less humor, but Hearne has struck a good balance between the two.  I’m also impressed with his blending of real world and myth.  Readers of various religious faiths may be uncomfortable with a few aspects of the world-building — in Hearne’s world, all gods exist, and as a druid, O’Sullivan is a bit cavalier about the non-Irish ones (the Christian Trinity in particular.) If you can look past that, you’ll find that Hounded offers a refreshingly original take on urban fantasy and a hero whom readers of either gender will enjoy hanging out with.

Hounded is the first book in the Iron Druid Series. The fifth book, Trapped, came out in fall 2012; Hunted (#6) is due out on June 25, 2013. I have books #2 through #6 on my to-read list, and I’m itching to get started.  (Anybody have a copy of Hexed I can borrow? My library’s copy has gone missing, and I’ve blown my book budget for the next few weeks.)

Even though I’m tempted to keep this review copy of Hounded for my own shelves, I’ve decided to share the largesse with another lucky reader! You can enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Increase your chances of winning by leaving a comment and sharing the giveaway on your blog!  (Giveaway now over)

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