Yes, Hounded is an urban fantasy book for men; an oxymoron by today's literary standards. You won't find any blubbering vaginas named Edward, nor any dimwitted snobs named Bella in this book, there's also a marked lack of brooding, moaning, groaning, whining, pouting, pondering and bitching. I'll wait right here until you're done jumping up and down and cheering with unbridled joy...
Hounded tells the story of a two thousand year old Celtic Druid named Atticus O’Sullivan, the usurper of your run-of-the-mill tall, dark, teary-eyed and handsome supernatural male protagonist. Atticus, the red-headed, pasty-white, heavily-tattooed, bicycle-riding, bookstore-owning, tea-brewing, dog-whispering, earth-communing, mythical sword-wielding, giant-slaying, witch-slapping, goddess-sexing, bad-ass, “Iron Druid” breaks a fleet of urban fantasy norms by simply being a MAN. Atticus doesn’t sit around pondering which shade of eye-liner to wear on his next date; no, he spends his time decapitating ageless Celtic gods on suburban Arizona streets for sport and honor.
I really liked Atticus for is straightforward, no nonsense approach to stressful and dangerous situations. When Atticus is faced with a problem, he briskly assesses his options, formulates a plan, and executes it; with 2,100 years of life-experience at his disposal, there’s no need for pontification. However, several members of the Club felt that there wasn’t enough internal dialogue and self-reflection to really get to know Atticus, especially given the books first person narrative. They felt that Atticus’s quick action and decisiveness detracted from his character, and created a void between him and the reader.
Whether or not we individually connected with Atticus, there was one thing the Club all agree on, Hounded was action packed. From the first otherworldly skirmish on page 4, to the culminating confrontation 250 pages later, Hearne lays out a fast-paced tale that charges forward and never lets up. What propels the plot forward is the onslaught of Aenghus Og’s minions (giants and faeries and witches…oh my!) which Atticus must dispatch with the help of his trusty Irish wolfhound Oberon. The pacing and sense of urgency is further aided by the fact that Hearne’s prose is tight, clean, and easily consumable; he doesn’t burden the reader with a heavy-handed writing style.
To keep things light, Hearne throws in a few laughs as well. The catalyst for most of the humor in Hounded is found Atticus’s allies. From his team of lawyers which is comprised of a vampire and a pack of werewolves, to his crass neighbor the widow MacDonagh, the supporting cast of characters does a keen job of lightening the mood even in the face of murder and mayhem.
All in all I enjoyed Hounded and will likely read the follow-ups Hexed and Hammered. I felt that Hounded created a strong foundation for a compelling urban fantasy series based on a lead character that separates himself from the crowd by being a supernatural man’s man. Although the world-building was admittedly thin in the debut novel, I think Hearne has the pieces in place to take the Iron Druid Chronicles to the next level in books two and three. It’s rare to find a supernatural book that keeps my interest like Hounded did, and for that reason and all those detailed above, I give Hounded a solid B+.