Hounded is the first book in the Iron Druid Chronicles and Kevin Hearne’s first published novel. Kevin popped up on my radar when it was announced at Star Wars Celebration VI that he would be writing a Luke Skywalker novel in a mini-series called Rebels. Being the huge Star Wars fan that I am, and also a voracious reader, I decided to try out one of his books which just so happened to be Hounded. The story that unfolded was one of pure entertainment…and hilarity.
I found the visitor in my kitchen, trying to make a strawberry fruit smoothie.
“Manannan Mac Lir take this cursed thing to the land of shades!” she shouted as she smashed her fist onto the buttons of my blender. “The mortals always push these buttons and the bloody things work. Why won’t yours work?” she demanded, flipping an irritated glance my way.
“You have to plug it in,” I explained.
“What is this plug?”
“Insert the two-pronged device at the end of that cord into the slots on the wall there. That will give the blender its, um, animating force.”
“Ah. Well met, then, Druid.”
“Well met, Flidais, goddess of the hunt.”
First off, Hounded stars a Druid. In this realm of fantasy, a Druid is a being who draws power from the earth and can perform magic. But this isn’t your typical fantasy story. The Druid, Atticus, lives in Tempe, Arizona. He has a dog he can talk to and runs a rare book shop. He’s around 2,100 years old and on a day-to-day basis, he deals with gods, Fae, and other strange beings. There’s a lot of Irish mythology in the book, but the story weaves in werewolves, vampires, and witches as well. Some of the Greek gods get a mention. And just so everyone’s on the same page, every god exists in this setting, be it Greek, Norse, Christian, or Muslim. I also really appreciated how the book never takes any jabs at religion but instead gives them all a fair footing.
So there’s a Druid, a bunch of gods, a talking dog, and it’s all set in modern times…what else is there? The simple answer is humor. For Star Wars fans, Kevin Hearne is the equivalent of Aaron Allston on his ‘A’ game. There is a ton of humor in this book. Sometimes it made me smile, but more often than not, I was laughing out loud and having a great time. Who knew a talking dog could be so funny? Honestly, the chemistry between Atticus and Oberon (his dog) is perfect. They’re witty and it brings a great angle to the book. Yet even without Oberon, there’s some good laughs to be had with all the other characters in the book. For instance there is Flidais and her love of potions, er, strawberry fruit smoothies. The outlandish setup of random gods mixed into modern society is just ripe for humor, and Kevin Hearne doesn’t miss a beat.
Best yet, the humor goes hand-in-hand with compelling characters and an entertaining story. Atticus has found a cozy little place to live, but he’s got enemies. In fact he has a god after him who wants his sword back. Through half a dozen conflicts, Atticus has to fight his way up the ladder of lesser minions to get up to the big guy himself. Along the way, the reader gets introduced to the characters and the world Atticus lives in. There’s plenty of laughs, action, and wonderful character dialog that kept me glued to the book throughout.
When you come across a really good book, you just chew through it until it’s done and cherish every page of joyous escape. Hounded not only helped me escape from reality, but lightened my mood and gave me a burst of energy that recharged my batteries. I’m fully ready to chug on to the next book and tear through this series from beginning to end. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but if you like to read and have a good laugh, this is a book I highly recommend. If Kevin Hearne can channel the same skillful storytelling into his upcoming Star Wars novel, then readers are certainly going to be in for a great Skywalker tale.
Hounded easily earns a well deserved five out of five metal bikinis. You owe it to yourself to check this one out. In fact you can read a 50 page preview on Suvudu. Give it a try and see if you can’t stop yourself from wanting more. I know I couldn’t