Read: August 2020
Author: Kevin Hearne
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: 320 pgs (paperback) | 8h 52m (audio)
Selected By: BillMo
Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty, when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.
With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.
I didn’t like this book very much. Since I finished the book and I didn’t have a terrible physical reaction to it like hives I decided to give it one lonely teacup.
This morning I woke up and I had a smoothie. It had blueberries, half a banana, almond milk, organic flaxseed oil, and protein powder. Tell me, fellow reader of books does that interest you? It doesn’t interest me. Now let me tell you why I decided to give you a smoothie recipe. I felt like the author would just list things with no depth to them. The story reads like one big list. I just didn’t care for it. This is no Harry Dresden going to the pub and having a warm beer and a tasty steak. This was going to a counter for a giant glass of dull. What does dull taste like to me? I would say wet cardboard. A slow chew that you just have to keep chewing before you can get it mushy enough to swallow.
While we are talking about Harry Dresden lets go ahead and talk about something. This is NO I repeat NO Harry Dresden. I got the feeling when I was reading this book that it was supposed to be something close to resembling The Dresden Files. Multiple things happened and you would think that everything would come together and have some kind of point. Nope not gonna happen. Didn’t happen. I have no idea why this series has as many stars as it does. I will also never find out because I will not be reading anymore of this series. I thought the first book was okay and I was thinking the series would get better but it didn’t. I could not immerse myself in it or find a way to love any of the characters. Well, I love Oberson but he’s a puppy dog and who wouldn’t love a puppy dog?
I do not like Atticus O’Sullivan. I do not like him. I would not read him here or there. I would not read him anywhere….anywhere. I liked him a lot less in this book than I did in the first one. As I was reading him I found that he reminded me a lot of Starlite from Rainbow Brite. He was terribly vain and self-involved. At least Starlite was a pretty horse with a rainbow main. Instead we have a druid on a “high horse” that is all about himself. He was awfully selfish. Spoiler alert! There is a part towards the beginning where one of the demons from the previous book that was released has killed a student. He is approached about cleaning up his mess but he does not want to deal with it at the moment. He has other pressing matters and he would just rather have the fight come to him. Really? Those of you who like this series I’ll give you something to call me on. You may say, “Well this is how an immortal would feel. He wouldn’t value just one person’s life.” Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I would think that druids would value life and not disregard it but I haven’t done a lot of reading on Druidry. My closest has been Pickle from R.A. Salvatore when he wanted to be a doodad. So here we are with Atticus who goes to slay a demon under threat of harm to his person. Oh Atticus you’re my hero! You killed a demon that was inconvenient for you after being threatened. Nope I still don’t feel it.
I would like to take a minute to appreciate Harry Dresden and how he can’t just make everything better at the snap of his fingers. Atticus seems to have everything too easy. Here let me just bind his sleeve to his side or I can just camouflage myself and all these things around me. Everything was just too easy for him. I know it’s fantasy but come on. Give me a little more obstacles to overcome. I was never on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what was going to happen next. I actually spent the whole book trying to figure out what the story was really about and how it all connected. I still don’t know.
I’m reading no more of this.
After writing this review I made myself not want to quote anything so this is all I’ve got. I almost took a teacup away but I’ll still give it one but no more…no more.
BillMo’s Favorite Character(s): Oberon.
BillMo read the Amazon Kindle edition of this selection.
So, this is not my cup of tea. I seriously believe I will be highly repetitive by saying this is one of the most juvenile reads I’ve read and would have left this series alone after the first installment of Hounded. Consistent thoughts this time, I cannot believe that Atticus is allegedly over 2000 years old. For all that he has seen through the years, does truly remain this childish? Yes, he’s a good natured lad in general and he just wants to live as normal life as he can but those around him won’t let him. SInce he resembles a 20-something, he feels he should act as a 20-something. You know, there are those who are “older than their age”. . . Hearne could have given him some of this.
The humor is as juvenile in this rendition as it was in the last. From the opening paragraphs, I found myself annoyed with his attempt to make Leif loosen up and be a bit more up to date on slang and the like. Understand context. If Leif is a 30-something attorney, doesn’t mean he’s going to be throwing out “bruh”, “dude’s” and “sups”. The length of time spent on this conversation was too long and raised my hackles. Furthermore, as the novel goes on, the one-liners Hearne throws in as an off-hand fashion, meant to draw a laugh or distract from the action, was most unwelcome, at least by me. It didn’t add anything but an unnecessary and inept attempt at humor. In all honesty, it seems as if it were an ode to bad 80s movies on some level. The first book, I enjoyed Oberon and this time, I found him to be just as annoying as Atticus, even when trying to give him the benefit of being an animal and ultimately a simple dog. His behavior reminded me more of a pubescent child that you want to smack in the back of the head and tell straighten up, kid.
I’m attempting to determine if his representation of the women is the typical male author’s skewed version of either overly sexualized, highly untrustworthy or highly volatile if they wielded any sort of power. Yet, he did introduce a different, subtle power that we see in the Widow MacDonough’s ability to call forth her power of faith to aid Atticus. Granuaile is useful as a neophyte, but at the same time, Atticus having to fight his attraction to her is so formulaic and haphazardly done. Again, 80s movie!
As for the deities, Morrigan and Brighid. Hearne portrays them as just as messy as their human counterparts. While Morrigan is considered maybe not so desirable to be around, she is at least honest and upfront about what her wants and needs are. While I do not believe she is completely honest with Atticus, I can appreciate her directness. Whereas, Brighid tends to annoy me, at least Hearne’s rendition. She reminds me of a pretty girl who goes insane, irrationally so, when she doesn’t get her way. So, I ask, if these gods and goddesses have been around a millenia, are we saying their human fallibility is what keeps them alive? I think not. In fact, behavior of this nature should have had them extinct, in Hearne’s world anyway.
It appears the only female characters that managed to escape, partially, his childish representation would be Laksha and Malina. Hearne represents them as both competent and useful in their own ways. They negotiate in a manner that bespeaks their background and would-be formidable foes or allies, dependent on how they land on a situation. Furthermore, the villains of this novel were telegraphed in some ways and will continue to do so in the additional renditions.
This was a light read, though not my cup of tea, could be quite enjoyable for some. I will not belabor all the ways I didn’t like the book, but I can say that Coyote, while also an annoying character, I expected his actions, motivations, as a trickster. Of all the characters, I think he hit that on the head. I also appreciate that Atticus wants to fit in no matter the culture. He’s the quintessential 20-something. He’s a competent enough Druid, who can ingratiate himself with the likes of a God-fearing woman and rely on her to call on her Saints to achieve his end game; but his use of language and behavior in dealing with the likes of Coyote was spot on.
Lady Esbe’s Favorite Character(s): Leif and Coyote.
Narration Review†: Though I’m not a fan of the series, Luke Daniels does a good job, especially during the Coyote and Atticus scenes.
Lady Esbe listened to the Brilliance Audio edition of this selection, narrated by Luke Daniels.
Caveat: Elle did not finish this selection.
Full disclosure: I only got about halfway through this selection. I worked a lot of late nights and all of the weekends of August, so my “me” time was limited to a handful of hours each day, and it’s a toss-up as to whether or not I’d have been able to complete any selection this month. But nothing about Hexed made me want to put in the time or the effort to try. So, for the sake of fairness, I’ve given it a two-cup rating rather than the one-cup I really feel the first-half of the novel warranted from me, since there may have been something in the latter half that redeemed it for me had I gotten that far.
When we read the first installment of the Iron Druid series, Hounded, I was game to give it a go – it has been favorably compared to one of my favorite urban fantasy series, the Dresden Files, not to mention this one stars a Celtic tree-hugging Druid who runs his own occult shop and is accompanied on his adventures by his faithful wolfhound, Oberon, and his supernatural attorneys, werewolf Hal Hauk and vampire Leif Helgarson.
But Atticus O’Sullivan is no Harry Dresden, that’s for sure. And Kevin Hearne is no Jim Butcher.
My issues with this second installment are pretty much a repeat of what I didn’t care for in the first novel: first and foremost, the writing style itself bothers me. I’ve made it no secret that I prefer immersive fiction – when I read a novel, I want to be there: I want to see through the eyes of the characters and feel what they feel, experience what they experience, see what they see. What I don’t want is to be essentially blindfolded by my guide and then led from room-to-room as he or she lists the minute details of each location and those occupying them with all the gusto of someone reading through a lengthy and highly-disorganized grocery list.
There is a large amount of mythology making an appearance in the few hundred pages of Hearne’s novels – Irish, Norse, Indian, Native American, Polish, Greek, etc. – yet it seems he just can’t dedicate any time to building upon who and what each character is or stands for enough to make them stand out, even against one another, and, again, his method of listing out descriptions just saps away whatever joy may have been gained simply by their existence in a modern story, rendering these otherwise fascinating legends and myths into dull and lifeless caricatures which drift in and out of the tale. I know this “show me, don’t tell me” skill tends to be difficult for even the best authors to pull off every time – maybe Hearne finds this skill later as the series develops… but the remaining issues I have from this novel (and its predecessor) pretty much ensure that, unless selected by Esbe or BillMo, I probably won’t be reading any more of Atticus’s antics.
My second issue is again around the writing but is this time focused specifically on the humor of Hexed. It’s… absurd. Head-shakingly, mind-numbingly absurd. I don’t know who the target audience is for this series, but I’m assuming it’s not boys between the ages of six and eleven, which is pretty much where the humor begins and ends. It’s humor for the type of people who fall down laughing when someone puts one hand under their opposing armpit and squeezes to make that squelchy farting noise. Or who can’t tell the “orange you glad I didn’t say banana again” knock-knock joke without cracking up with laughter. You know who wouldn’t be impressed by whoopee cushions and knock-knock jokes? A two-thousand-year-old Druid… which brings me to…
My third issue, which is yet another repeat from the first novel: I do not believe for one second that this protagonist is over the age of twenty-one. He’s naive, relatively trusting, patient, surprisingly open-minded, and not at all jaded for someone who’s essentially lived through the destruction of his own civilization, the fall of Rome, Genghis Khan, the Hundred Years’ War, the Inquisition, the Black Plague, and two World Wars. All of these major points (and so many others) occurred during Atticus’s alleged lifetime – a lot has changed in two-thousand years, folks – and even changes to things that short-lived creatures such as ourselves take for granted, such as the calendar and how many days are in a year, what names we call our deities, the shape of the world beneath our feet and where that world begins and ends… Someone who has walked the Earth for two-thousand years and represents literally the last of their kind would not necessarily be a gloom-and-doom philosopher, but I personally don’t believe they’d be someone so easily duped or impressed, nor do I think they could be so twitterpated by every set of long legs and batting eyes that they constantly get side-tracked and lose sight of their purpose. Which brings me to…
… my final issue with Hexed, which is the one which really drove the final nail into the Iron Druid’s coffin for me: the female cast. And I do have to say “cast,” because, for the most part, none of these females have much in the way of character. Unlike the male characters – for whom we are provided physical descriptions but whose skills, personalities, and motivations are emphasized – the female cast of Hexed is reduced to each individual’s physical sexual appeal. It doesn’t matter if Atticus is up against the most powerful sorceress, the strongest shield-maiden, or the most fearsome goddess – they are just legs, eyes, lips, boobs, and butts, all either enthralled by or waiting to enthrall our youthful hero (with the exception of the old Irish neighbor lady… and yet she, too, stands in thrall of our young protagonist’s chiseled good looks). Hexed includes a group called the Bacchants, which are openly and unapologetically supposed to fill this need for female sexiness… but when compared to the rest of the females tripping over one another to win the Most Sexual Appeal According to Atticus award, the Bacchants came across as cheap thrills a la Girls Gone Wild. There are pages dedicated to Coyote’s trickery, Leif’s aloof seriousness – hell, even Perry gets a few paragraphs dedicated to explaining why he’s a good employee but can’t be trusted with herbs. But the women? The women are given pages and pages of eyelash fluttering, hair tossing, leg crossing, and draping their clothing this way or that to best display their physical assets… and occasionally they do some magic or say something clever or whatever.
This series has a lot of good reviews, so it’s clearly impressing someone, and it may scratch an itch you have… but the first two books of the series have fallen utterly flat for me, and, as I stated previously, I won’t be reading any other novels by this author unless one of the other Ladies chooses one as our monthly club selection.
Elle Tea’s Favorite Character(s): Coyote.
Elle read the Amazon Kindle edition of this selection.
† Narration “cup” scores do not count towards the overall average score of the selection itself.