Bane of Kings offers his thoughts on Kevin Hearne’s debut novel the urban fantasy tale Hounded, published by Orbit books in the UK and Del Ray in the US.
“A great voice in urban fantasy. Kevin Hearne has a strong potential to be the next Jim Butcher.” ~The Founding Fields
As long term Founding Fields fans will know, The Dresden Files are my favourite urban fantasy series on the market today – although I don’t read that much in the genre. The last Dresden-esque book that I read held the title Fated by Benedict Jacka which was entertaining but ultimately didn’t do much else. Hounded on the other hand… I really enjoyed, and I must say I was glad to receive a review copy through NetGalley.
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.
I really enjoyed Hounded. It was a fresh, if flawed opening start to a series and as I was reading it I felt like I was in the middle of some weird combination of Joss Whedon and Jim Butcher with plenty of Irish inspiration. Although the writing style is simplistic, it flows well and manages to prove enjoyable and entertaining - especially with some great comedy moments between Atticus and Oberon, his dog, who is probably one of the greatest not-fully-human-and-shouldn’t-really-be-able-to-talk companions since Bob the Skull. However, despite his age – there are several parts in this novel where Atticus acts way too young for his age delivering something that a teenager would probably think was witty. There was an element of this in The Dresden Files but not as heavily as in The Iron Druid Chronicles.
However, I loved pretty much else. The plot was engaging and Atticus is a strong lead character, and romance does not play a key role in the plot like the sub genre known paranormal romance, which is benefited by the fact that Kevin Hearne is a male author. The plot moves quickly and Hearne has nailed the pacing in my opinion, with not a dull moment in the entire book. We don’t get to see many Celtic mythology inspired urban fantasies these days, and it comes as a welcome relief to all the vampires and werewolves that urban fantasy seems to be populated with these days.
Fans of The Dresden Files and other similar urban fantasy novels will love Hounded, and it’s much more enjoyable than Benedict Jacka’s Fated. I’ll be sticking with this series for sure, and although the book’s quite short and you’ll speed through it very quickly. You can easily tell Hounded was a debut novel, and at no point whilst reading it did I sense that this was Hearne’s third or fourth novel, but with the rest of the Iron Druid Chronicles to look forward to, I can hope that Hearne’s writing style improves.
The Iron Druid Chronicles: Hounded, Hexed, Hammered, Tricked, Trapped, Hunted (Out 2013)