I'm a big fan of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, but Jim Butcher doesn't write fast enough. I just discovered a new author, though, whose first urban fantasy book introduced two characters that were just as much fun as Harry Dresden and Bob. In fact, there's more wordplay and humor in Kevin Hearne's first book in The Iron Druid Chronicles than in the Dresden Files. Make no mistake. Hearne takes his story, the mythology, and the action seriously. But, his characters are two of the best characters I've ever read about in a fantasy novel. Hearne's Hounded sold me, and I've already picked up the second book, Hexed. I'm quite content to read about Atticus O'Sullivan and his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon.
Atticus O'Sullivan is a Druid who has lived for twenty-one centuries, but looks to be twenty-one, a perfect appearance for living in a college town. He now resides in Tempe, Arizona, where he owns an occult bookshop, Third Eye Books and Herbs. He's perfectly content to operate his store, spend time with his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon, and hang out at his favorite Irish pub, Rúla Búla. Unfortunately for Atticus, one of the Celtic gods, Aenghus Óg, is not happy that Atticus has a magical sword, Fragarach. Aenghus Óg has been tracking Atticus for centuries, and, with the help of some witches, nightmarish creatures, and even some local police, he's found him. Atticus is going to have to call on his own power from the earth, along with his lawyers; a werewolf and a vampire, and a few semi-friendly Celtic gods in order to survive the wrath of an angry god.
Atticus O'Sullivan is a wonderful hero for an urban fantasy with his love of the earth, his wisdom gained over centuries, and his wicked sense of humor. He has a power and longevity unusual for a Druid. And, Atticus combines his love and connection to the earth with the power he built over years into a protective iron amulet. And, then there's his relationship and conversations with his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon. The conversations are funny, and witty. Fantasy lovers will think Oberon reminds them of Bob, the skull in the Dresden Files. Mystery lovers will be reminded of Chet, the wonderful dog in the Chet and Bernie series by Spencer Quinn.
Hearne has a wealth of material with the gods and goddesses of Celtic myth. And, Arizona is a perfect landscape for an urban fantasy series, with a college community on the edge of desert and mountain terrain. Hounded was the best urban fantasy discovery I've made since I first read Jim Butcher years ago, before he was popular. I already have Hexed, the second in the series, and I'm waiting for the third, Hammered, which was just released. And, I was so impressed with the first book that I've invited Kevin Hearne to appear for Authors @ The Teague.
Congratulations to Kevin Hearne, an Arizona author and high school English teacher. I hope his Iron Druid Chronicles are as successful as the Dresden Files.
Kevin Hearne's website is www.kevinhearne.com
Hounded by Kevin Hearne. Del Rey. ©2011. ISBN 978034552474 (paperback), 304p.
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