Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hounded – The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 1

     1.   Hounded (April 19, 2011) – 4 out of 5
     2.   Hexed (June 7, 2011)
     3.   Hammered (July 5, 2011)

Author:  Kevin Hearne  
Narrator:  Luke Daniels3.5 out of 5   
Length: 8:11, may be purchased here

FTC Disclosure:  Brilliance Audio has graciously provided me with an audio version of this book for reviewing purposes.  Aside from this courtesy copy, I have received no payment, services or other reimbursement in exchange for this review.

He may look 21 but he is 21 centuries old, and for the last 2,000 of those years, Atticus O’Sullivan has been hounded by Aenghus Og, a fae Celtic love god from whom he stole a magical sword.  Atticus, the last of the Druids, has been hiding out rather successfully in Tempe, Arizona, running a New Age store.  The only ones who know his true identity are his faithful wolfhound, Oberon (with whom he can communicate mentally), his werewolf and vampire lawyers, and Morrigan, the fae queen of destruction.   Unfortunately, as the internet makes the world smaller, the Tuatha Dé Danann (the fae) discover the true identity of Atticus O’Sullivan and are again coming for the sword.  Tired of running, Atticus has decided to make Arizona his last stand. 

The Druids: they’re about more than just trees.
This audiobook was not what I expected.  I expected any tale about a druid to be another Lord of the Rings-type, high fantasy, Renaissance Faire-like, tight-wearing tale. Hounded is not. This audiobook is very modern, very urban fantasy, incorporating the real world, the real police, including jurisdictional and media concerns.  Tempe versus Phoenix cops?  Check.  Can’t go to the hospital because of the paperwork that requires? Check.  I really appreciate that real world considerations.  It makes the cynic in me happy.  

Also, having first read the official blurb on the book, I was worried about how many different supernatural creatures are in the story: werewolves and vampires and witches and fae and Norse gods and miscellaneous demons, oh my!  Usually, with that many different paranormal types, the reader starts to trip up over the storyline.  Here, it worked because the focus remained on the fae.  Atticus is the only Druid, and his power is witchy, making it easier on the reader.  With the lawyers – the vampire and werewolves – these characters are ancillary enough not to complicate things.  The only trip-up I found was with Granuaile MacTiernan. When we find out what’s up with her, I did roll my eyes.  It was just a tad too much for me.

Overall, Hounded was a joy to listen to.  The writing itself is very skillful and conversational.  The tension is there continually, and it builds easily from scene to scene, at times, honestly shocking.  I enjoyed learning with Atticus which characters he could trust and which he should fear.  There are some very sexy moments, although the writing is PG-13.  Also, there’s a ton of humor in this audiobook, especially from the wolfhound, who’s obsessed with Genghas Khan and French poodles, and Atticus's old neighbor, who hates the British and drinks like a fish.
On narration:
Luke Daniels does not sound like a 21-year-old, but he sure does sound like he knows his Celtic.  His pronunciation of old Irish names is spot-on.  When he narrates Oberon, he sounds like a big, loveable, fuzzy, panting hound. When he reads female voices, he doesn’t pitch his voice up high, but he makes his tone softer and breathier, which works as most females in Hounded are sexual characters.  His accents, specifically Polish and Hindi, were passable.  Overall, the reading went well with the story.

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