Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Sunday, June 10, 2012
Title: Hounded
Author: Kevin Hearne
Genre: supernatural, urban fantasy
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles #1
Pages: 316 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: April 2011
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 3/5

 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.

Final thoughts upon finishing: Meeeh. With that, I readily admit I'm in the minority for this UF favorite, but Hounded just didn't do anything it for me. Maybe it's another case of bookish it's-not-you-it's-me, but I was fairly disappointed with this much-hyped first in the widely-beloved Iron Druid Chronicles series. I certainly wanted to like this; I started Hounded fully expecting to love main character, the ancient but still snarky Atticus, and his amusing wolfhound Oberon (that part may or may not have come true), and the mix of pantheons and deities used for antagonists and secondary players and.. I just.. didn't connect. With 2/3 of that. Newish author Kevin Hearne has a lot of imagination, a clear vision for his series as well asaa good sense of humor, and, though his execution of plot and his approach to his female characters could definitely use a lot some work, I can appreciate why so many others enjoy this novel more than I did. It did not end up working out for me, but that is not the for a lot of people. 

I wanted more originality from Atticus's personality and POV; I was sorely disappointed with how generic his voice was. Sure the type of supernatural being he is is original and creative (Druids, anyone?), but his individual outlook and personality are no different from many other male POVs out there. He's not an Alpha male, but he is often cliched. A male author is more distinct in this genre, but his lead did little to distinguish himself in this first novel. Is Atticus an all-powerful, incredibly long-lived, accented, sex pot? Check, check, check, and check. Can he do things that none other can or has been able to in a millennia? Check. Does every girl, goddess and college student want to bang him? It certainly comes off that way... (three different goddesses kiss him in one day? Two different goddessess want to have sex with him [and learn from the oh-so-wise Druid] within a week's time? Give me a break.)  Atticus isn't bad, per se, and he is a decent narrator and protagonist: I just wish he had been more individual in his presentation.

Everyone human in the novel is far too one-dimensional or perfect to be real or believable. One of my main and early problems with Hounded was that I just couldn't connect or invest with the story being set up. The gods and goddesses that pop up from various pantheons of the world are far more dynamic and developed in their convoluted and twisted schemes than their slightly-cardboard human counterparts, especially the women, but they take a little while to show up on scene. I touched on it above, and so have other reviews and reviewers, but the women of the cast here are so laughably and unequivocally evil or one-dimensional I wanted to scream. With the exception of two female characters, one of whom was my favorite character of the whole piece (I refer, of course, to the hilarious Widow MacDonagh who attends Church while drunk and was vastly underused), I was sorely disappointed in how Hearne chose to portray the opposite sex.  The Morrigan is supposed to be scary and foreboding, not a sexpot wanting to hit some of that. No, thank you. I prefer my Death goddesses remote and scary, not ones who grind up on that.

Not all is lost, for there were indeed some good parts t be had in Hounded: there's a lot of humor splashed throughout in here, though a lot of it is dog-related or voiced by Atticus's talking wolfhound, Oberon. If you can stomach their pyschic bond, the wolfhound might be the most loveable. The magic aspect was creative enough without being too far-fetched or random, and nicely tuned to fit the story and character that Hearne has created. I greatly appreciated how researched the multiple mythological facets were - it showed and was easily the strongest facet of an uneven first novel. It's nice to come across a UF/PNR with a different set of lore than the usual and the Irish infusion here is truly well done and hopefully continued into the more recent novels. Coming in at just around 300 pages in all versions, Hounded is an easy supernatural read and a quick introduction to this series, if one not not wholly original or perfect.

Obviously, much of this fell flat or didn't live up to hype for me: from the quick and emotionless fight scenes, to the predictable plot, to the contrived attraction between Atticus and any female goddess, I just didn't invest in the core or side) storylines. I will say this for Kevin Hearne's crowdpleaser that I apparently insist on being the party pooper for: this supernatural tale certainly reads easily and quickly, as well as infusing its cast with a pleasing amount of "new" gods/goddesses against which Atticus has to contend. I had been tempted to rate this closer to a 2/2.5 range, but the things I did enjoy about this were distinct and unique enough to merit this the three I finally settled upon. My dissenting opinion of the first one isn't even enough to fully sway myself: I fully intend to read book number two in Hearne's popular series, titled Hexed. I just won't go in expecting to be fall in love and be wowed like I mistakenly did here. Hearne has a lot of potential and maybe he and Atticus can grow into their story with maturity and individuality. Here's hoping.


  1. Well, the cover and synopsis definitely drew me in when I first came across this novel on Amazon. I have it on my wish list there. After reading your excellent, well-balanced review, though, I think I'll delete it. I certainly like Celtic mythology (and most other mythologies, as well), but I sure don't want to wade through piles of tired, old cliches to get to the good stuff! You've saved me the time and trouble. Thanks for the heads up!! :)

    1. I don't know how I missed this comment! Blonde Jessie.

      I definitely seem to be in the minority with this one. A lot of readers and bloggers love it, but I was meh on the whole thing. The Celtic mythology is easily the best oart and if that element intrigues you, I'd definitely recommend borrowing this from the library!

      Or not. So many books, so little time ;)


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