Genre: urban fantasy
Pages: 320 (paperback)
To Be Published: May 3rd, 2011 by Del Rey
When I first won Hounded from a Goodreads giveaway, I had no idea what a good thing I had coming in the mail. It's not too unusual that I venture into adult urban fantasy or even literary fiction, though obviously I read more YA than anything, this being a YA blog. But Hounded may very well be the best urban fantasy, if not one of the best books period that I've read all year. It's a hidden, fast-paced and fun fantasy gem which will not be hidden for long, judging by the slew of enthusiastic reviews I've seen on Goodreads and a few other blogs. The editor's note on the inside cover of the ARC copy mentions the 'Kevin Hearne Effect'-- and man, has the Kevin Hearne Effect worked its magic on me! This book is like the perfect, Celtic lovechild of American Gods and the Percy Jackson series. I recommend it a thousand times over.
Atticus O'Sullivan, Druid and indie book-seller, is 21 (centuries) and counting, though he maintains the appearance of a 21 year old Irishman who runs an occult bookstore in Arizona. Atticus is an intellectual Druid as well as a warrior (you get to collect a lot of hobbies after you've lived a few millenniums), but he's no ancient, white-robed priest with a flowing beard. His light-hearted sarcasm and casual use of twenty-first century slang are as hilarious as his other immortal counterparts' misuse of it. Atticus has friends in high places, to put it mildly, since he's had loads of time to rack up bonus points with the immortal gods of every pantheon and various other supernatural beings. Let's see...his lawyers are a vampire and a werewolf; his next-door neighbor is a kick-ass old Irish lady who likes her Sunday mornings mellow (you'll see what I'm talking about;); the bartender he's been crushing on is actually possessed by an ancient Indian witch; and, oh yeah, he's got the Morrigan, goddess of death, on his side. Long ago Atticus made a pact with the Morrigan so that she will never take him, leaving him immortal and virtually invincible.
But Atticus hasn't made all those friends without making a few enemies as well. Most notable among them is the Celtic god of love, Aenghus Og. He's been chasing Atticus through the centuries, determined to reclaim a sword the Druid took from him long ago. God of love though he may be, Aenghus is far from a lovey-dovey Cupid type. (Not that Cupid was that lovey-dovey, originally.) Throw in a coven of Polish witches whom are real, er, witches, a wishy-washy goddess of the hunt, and an Irish wolfhound who can communicate with Atticus telepathically, and you have a heck of a lot of myths gone wild. Well-researched myths, too. As a mythology geek, I loved Hearne's take on the various gods and goddesses, throwing them into modern society in a way that reminded me of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. But a reader wouldn't have to know zip about mythology in order to love Hounded-- Atticus explains everything in matter-of-fact terms.
I can't possibly review this without declaring how much I love Oberon the Irish Wolfhound! He and Atticus's mental conversations (soo much more interesting than the dog-human convos in The Knife of Never Letting Go) were hilarious, and Oberon was just so endearing in every way. Atticus himself captured my heart and allegiance immediately, as did most all of the other characters from his shop-assistant to the goddess Flidais. And the ending-- hysterical! Loved it. The best part is that the next two books in the Iron Druid Chronicles, Hexed and Hammered are being released soon after the first book, a book every consecutive month. I can't think of a better way to spend the summer than by the pool, deeply absorbed in the Iron Druid books! Sorry this review's so long-- I couldn't resist writing a novella of a review for this one. :)
Plot: 5/5Overall Rating: 5/5