HOUNDED by Kevin Hearne

Ballantine/Del Rey

2011

 

Ok. So. While it’s true Crimespree doesn’t make a habit out of reviewing books that have been out for three years, HOUNDED is a special case. Last month, Kevin Hearne came to St. Paul, MN, for an appearance at our local Barnes and Noble in support of his latest entry in the “Iron Druid Chronicles.” Being familiar with Mr. Hearne by way of the twitters, which he’s quite active on, Kate and I beat feet to the signing.

I hadn’t yet read any of his work, but he was certainly on my radar.

The reading was fantastic. With a turnout nearing seventy people (!) choosing to spend their Friday night at a bookstore, Mr. Hearne was gracious, grateful, and damn entertaining. Group selfies were taken. New fans were created. But, here’s the thing. SHATTERED is book number eight in the series. I cannot – WILL NOT – start a series anywhere but at the beginning. So I tracked down HOUNDED, and here we are.

As a genre, Urban Fantasy has been taking up quite a bit of my reading lately. Kadrey, Wendig, Holm, and Green tend to serve as my high-water marks in the genre. Hearne succeeds in establishing a world that struck me as totally unique. In HOUNDED, we meet Atticus O’Sullivan, the very likable twenty-one year old owner of Third Eye Books and Herbs. With his shop located close to the local university, a young man with tattoos up and down the right side of his body who bikes everywhere fits right in. And when people ask him how old he is, and he answers “21,” they take him at his word.

What they don’t know is that Atticus is actually 2,100 years old. And the world’s last living Druid. Because when you’ve been living in hiding for centuries, the American desert is a perfect spot to do it in. And with his loyal Irish wolfhound Oberon always on hand to keep him company, life is pretty darn sweet. Especially since he and Oberon can communicate mentally. Which to this reviewer is the coolest thing I’ve ever read. If only…

Anyway, the story kicks into gear when agents of the Celtic god Aenghus Og make their move on our Druid-in-hiding. Centuries ago, Atticus came into possession of massively powerful magical sword, and Aenghus Og has been after him ever since to claim it as his own. An epic that started in Ireland centuries ago is now set to come to a head in Arizona. In a story filled with Celtic pantheons, werewolf and vampire lawyers, a coven of Polish witches and another witch existing only as a spirit who possesses a beautiful young barmaid, well let’s just say… there’s quite a lot happening. And it happens fast.

Kevin Hearne was clearly having the time of his life when he wrote HOUNDED. As the bio on his website states, Hearne was an early fan of comics, soda, and Van Halen. (RESPECT.) I’m not saying HOUNDED reads like a comic book in novel form, but it’s fast paced action that fills in the details with exposition-on-the-go. Add in a healthy dose of pop culture quips amid the action, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an enjoyable summer read.

HOUNDED was a blast to read. I can hear the rest of the volumes calling to me now…

 

Dan Malmon