The young-Irish-lad façade does not stand me in good stead when I’m trying to appear scholarly at my place of business — I run an occult bookshop with an apothecary’s counter squeezed in the corner — but it has one outstanding advantage. When I go to the grocery store, for example, and people see my curly red hair, fair skin, and long goatee, they suspect that I play soccer and drink lots of Guinness. If I’m going sleeveless and they see the tattoos all up and down my right arm, they assume I’m in a rock band and smoke lots of weed. It never enters their mind for a moment that I could be an ancient Druid — and that’s the main reason why I like this look. If I grew a white beard and got myself a pointy hat, oozed dignity and sagacity and glowed with beatitude, people might start to get the wrong — or the right — idea.
Atticus O’Sullivan is a 2100-year-old Druid. He’s been lying low for a while, running his occult bookshop in Arizona and romping with his Irish wolfhound, Oberon. Back in the distant past, though, he absconded with a sword that the god Aenghus Og wants for his own. Now Aenghus has found him and is sending his goons to take the sword back.
Atticus is a fun character. He’s a mixture of old and new, wise and youthful. His slang is a blend of the ancient and the current. At times you can sense the years weighing on him, and he has a certain degree of paranoia that explains how he’s survived the millennia. At other times he seems closer to the age he appears, especially when it comes to his weakness for pretty women. Perhaps most importantly, he’s witty, which makes him a great character to spend a book with. His narrative voice is often hilarious. Oberon is a delight, too; he may be smarter than the average dog, but he’s utterly undone by sausages, belly rubs, and attractive French poodles.
The Irish-mythology aspect is very well done. Kevin Hearne has done his homework, and these aspects of the story feel perfectly rooted in the myths themselves. For example, when Atticus reveals the secret of his longevity, I think I actually said “OH!” aloud. It makes impeccable mythic sense.
The plot of Hounded is pretty straightforward, and the book is not very long. It does serve, though, to introduce Atticus, his world and its rules, and the major players, and it moves Atticus into a position where he’ll have plenty of chances to find more trouble (and more story hooks) as the Iron Druid series continues.
I listened to Brilliance Audio’s production of Hounded, read by Luke Daniels. Daniels has a pleasant, unobtrusive voice that carries the listener easily through the story. His narration as Atticus has just the right tone of deadpan humor, and his voices for the other characters are distinctive in their accents and mannerisms without sounding like caricatures of themselves. I recommend both Hounded and Brilliance Audio’s production of it.