Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Two reviews this week!! Woohoo :) Although it's 11.40pm and that means I won't have much time to read... ah well. Nothing much happening this week. I'm a bit disappointed because I'm doing computer work these days and I thought I'd have time to write reviews or blog-hop,but unfortunately no :( Booo. As for reading, it's going so-so...

I went to the library yesterday to pick up a book - A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh - but once I was there, somebody else had already gotten to it. And turns out the other copy that was available, was only available on May 19. Seriously, if it's not available now, then just don't mark it as available! Anyway, let see if I can be a good girl and resist the temptation of buying it :P

Hounded by Kevin Hearne
published by Ballantine Books (Del Rey) in May 2011

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.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book #1

The Story: On the outside, Atticus O'Sullivan is an Irish lad, too young to run his own occult bookshop with an apothecary's counter. In truth, he is 21 centuries old and the last druid walking this earth. Centuries ago, during the Battle of Magh Lena, Atticus stole a magic sword, Fragarach - the Answerer, given by Lugh Lamhfhada to Conn of the Hundred Battle so he could conquer and unite Ireland. The Fragarach's magical powers allow it to pierce any armor, a definite ace up your sleeve in a battle. Because of this, Aenghus Og, the not so lovable god of love, has hounded Atticus to reclaim the sword and through a deal with Morrigan, Atticus has remained alive and been on the run for centuries. As a result, Atticus has seen and done it all...

Nowadays, Atticus is settled in Tempe, Arizona because of its low god density and quasi-total absence of faeries. Unfortunately for him though, the respite is over as Aenghus Og has found him... through the internet! And this time around, the god of love has decided to get his hands dirty instead of sending his goons... and Atticus will be waiting, tired of running. Standing on his side will be the local pack of werewolves, a  Viking vampire, bartender possessed by a Hindu witch and his loyal wolfhound, Oberon. Together, they'll have to wade through the various Celtic Gods intentions and be wary of witches...

My Opinion: I saw the cover of Hounded a couple of months ago and told myself I had to check it out... and then, forgot about it ^_^; It's only after seeing Anna's review that I remembered and then, checked out the author's website. After reading the blurbs, the reviews and ahhh-ing over the covers, the decision was quite simple - I had to give Hounded a try :)

I have to admit, I found the whole concept of this series very similar to the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and that played a big part in my decision to pick up this book. I liked the idea that Atticus is a druid, although I have to say, Celtic god pantheon is not my favorite ^_^; Overall, so far, there is some similarities between the Iron Druid Chronicles and Dresden Files, but it's different enough to stand on its own and Hounded was quite enjoyable :)

The most important element in a series like the Iron Druid Chronicles is the main character and in this case, Atticus. I think Atticus was quite an interesting character, given what he is and how long he's lived. He is very knowledgeable - of about everything :) He's definitively smart as well as friendly. Also, his wittiness reminded me a lot of Harry. What bothered me though was that he felt "young." I know he has to look the part and that means adopting the demeanors and speech of a modern American, but the aura Atticus projected... He didn't feel like 21 centuries old. I'd have expected someone a bit more wise, zen and less of a hot head. Also, I can't help but LOL at men and sex - gets them at any age :P Still, I think he makes a good hero and it's someone I'd read more about :)

The world building so far is okay. I enjoyed the parts that were about Atticus' magic - I thought that was very interesting, how he drew power from the earth, the three forms he can morph into. I think that Mr Hearne took time to think about that part and it paid off. I also liked the other supernatural beings present - witches, werewolves and vampires. I especially love the fact that Atticus' lawyers consist of the second-in-command werewolf Hal, and the viking vampire Leif. By the way, viking vampire - two words I never thought to associate together LOL. Really looking forward to seeing more of him! I also liked the animosity between witches and druids which for some reasons doesn't surprise me. What didn't work as well for me was the whole Celtic aspect ^_^; I know that comes with the druid territory, but I thought it was a bit confusing, especially combining it with the faeries. Except for Morrigan, my Celtic mythology knowledge is very limited... Add in Celtic terms like Tir na nOg, Tuatha De Danann and yep, I was a bit lost. Sure, by the 10th time I stumbled across those words, I kind of figure out what they meant... but while reading Hounded, I wished there's been an index and I usually loath those, but in this case, it would have come in handy. Also, I know it adds authenticity, all the Celtic words incorporated was just too distracting ^_^; So on the world building front, I think that it was a bit of a mixed bag.

When I picked up Hounded, I was quite surprised at how thin it was - it comes at just under 290 pages. At the end though, I was pleasantly surprised because I think Mr Hearne handled it quite well. We got a good sense of Atticus, the world is set and there was even a story in it! LOL. No, truthfully, I thought the story was a bit slow at first... it seemed that all we saw was Atticus running around in a bit of panic at first... but in the end, it turned into something quite complex and had me engaged :)

At the end, I'm going to say that the most interesting part of this book was Atticus and his interactions with everyone else. How he found himself in this situation, how he's adapting and dealing :) Plus, he has a great cast of characters surrounding him. Oberon his wolfhound is just too cute and seems like the perfect companion for Atticus... Plus his addiction to French poodles tells me that he is quite the dog version of a lady's man like his master :) I'm also really looking forward to Granuaile's storyline, I think to see what a druid is is going to be very interesting.

By the way, as I mentioned in one of my comments, don't go into Hounded expecting romance. I think it is in the cards in the future, but unfortunately, not this time...

My Grade: Originally, I was going to give Hounded a B+... but after a few weeks and this review, I think a B is better suited. Hounded was definitively a very enjoyable read, although a bit muddled at times. I'm really looking forward to the next release, Hexed. I think that the series has a lot of potential and that's why I'm going to hold back on the grade a little :)

By the way, did I mention the covers? :P