Title: Hexed: The Iron Druid Chronicles
Author: Kevin Hearne
Format: Paperback edition, Ballantine/Del Rey
I love book series, enjoy seeking them out, and definitely get over the moon excited for them when I stumble across one that just captures my imagination and takes off with it. That last bit doesn’t happen very often, but it did when I read “Hounded”, the first book in The Iron Druid Chronicles series by Kevin Hearne, a few years ago. A book about Atticus O’Sullivan, the last living Druid and a mystical bad ass in modern day Arizona, “Hounded” opened up a world with a brand new take on multiple mythologies coexisting together, gave a twist and new life to the concept of vampires and werewolves, and made me believe that a psychic connection to a dog might be the greatest thing ever. I definitely was eager to read the next book in the series, to see what happened to Atticus, a character that was different in many ways.
And then I read “Hexed”. And didn’t get what I expected at all.
Don’t misunderstand. Compared to all the books in existence and even the large majority of modern urban fantasy/mythological gods causing crap books that are out there, “Hexed” is good. Compared to the book that came before it, the one that started the series, “Hexed” falls on its face from page one and doesn’t recover the magic of its predecessor until well past the middle.
Spinning out of “Hounded”, “Hexed” sees Atticus O’Sullivan trying to correct damage to the earth that the battle in the first book caused and finding himself to be the mostly unwilling guardian against all things bad and magic to the part of Arizona he lives in. Among the issues that he has to deal with is an invasion of Germanic witches with Nazi connections trying to fill the gap that the deaths of Polish witches in the first book left. Also, his vampiric lawyer (that’s his nighttime lawyer, his day time legal issues are handled by a whole pack of werewolf attorneys) is after him to go after Thor, or at least one of the versions that exist of the Thunder God. And then there’s a version of Coyote who cajoles Atticus into helping him take out a demon that had been unleashed to take out the Druid in the first book… and so on and so forth.
There’s a lot going on in “Hexed” and it seems that much of the book is Atticus trying to get to the actual conflict the book was built around, which was supposed to be the witches I think. I could have dealt with that, most likely, had I not been put off almost immediately by how the author wrote Atticus, his main character.
Instead of the rather wise, yet relaxed Druid that the author crafted throughout “Hounded”, the Atticus O’Sullivan that opens “Hexed” and that occupies most of the book is someone else, almost. He seems very eager to fit in and to make sure others fit in, so he goes out of his way to sound like the young crowd around him. Again, this is something that is in the first book, but it’s just an aside, really. In “Hexed” it is a recurring theme, one that Atticus focuses on, especially in terms of his vampiric lawyer being too stuffy and acting too much like he’d lived for centuries. That and other aspects of how Atticus is portrayed, including his personal observations about supporting cast being overly snarky and there being a preoccupation with Irish Goddesses finding him attractive and the problems this causes him, simply make the story stumble and don’t add anything to the story. It’s not until a lot of the extraneous loose ends are tied up finally and he moves on to face the witches that we get the same Atticus that made “Hounded” an awesome read.
Will I read the third book? Yes, because Atticus that I liked from the first one did finally show up in the second and we’re left with a great direction that I think will be a lot of fun in the next volume. But, unless I get obsessed to do a full re read of this series later on, I won’t be visiting ‘Hexed’ again.
‘Hexed: The Iron Druid Chronicles’ rates three out of five pages. It’s a decent read, but doesn’t hold up to the first one in the series and only comes into its own more than halfway through.
An average score for me for this one on my personal scale as well, only three out of six bullets. The lead character not really matching up to how he’d been presented in the first book threw me for so much of a loop for most of the book that it made it difficult to enjoy, and the supporting cast, though great, wasn’t enough to right the ship by themselves.