Hexed by Kevin Hearne
Hexed: The Iron Druid Chronicles
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I remember that my former editor praised me once for being so willing to read new authors. And admittedly, it can be a risk to pick up a book by someone that you’re not familiar with. You might run into a dud. Then again, you might find a real gem, someone that you want to keep reading no matter what. The latter scenario describes my reaction to Kevin Hearne’s wonderful Iron Druid Chronicles. The second book, Hexed, doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.
And for this review, I’m borrowing the text from the book’s back cover, so I hope you’ll forgive me…
“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’m really glad that Del Rey is bringing out the first three novels of this series in consecutive months, because I’m not sure I could handle not getting my Iron Druid fix for a whole year. Both my husband and I have gotten completely addicted to this series, and it’s currently even odds as to who is going to get their hands on Hammered next week when it lands on our front porch. Yes, the series is that good.
Hearne has found this awesome blend of humor, action, plot and character development that I don’t often see. While there’s definitely a lot going on in this novel, Hearne never pushes it to the point of being too much. Rather, he juggles a lot of disparate elements—invading witches, demon hunting, and training a new apprentice—with admirable aplomb. You’d think he’s been doing this for years.
I’m especially impressed with the author’s depiction of Atticus. It can’t be easy to write a character who is over two thousand years old and living in the modern world. But Atticus has made an effort to fit into the world in which he finds himself and doesn’t cling to “the old ways” in such a slavish way that it cripples him. There are other minor characters, however, who have done exactly that, and they provide a good contrast to Atticus.
And I like how Hearne keeps upping the stakes for Atticus. While going from killing a god to fighting witches may not seem like he’s getting into more danger, a good chunk of this novel plays into what looks to be happening in the next one: a confrontation with Thor. And that is bound to be earth-shaking.
With regards to the humor, it’s hard to read this book and not want to read quotes out loud to anybody who happens to be nearby (and my husband and I have done just that with each other). Hearne has a fun and quirky sense of humor, and I rarely made it through a chapter without giggling aloud over some witty comeback or humorous conversation. I’ve been tempted to start writing down lines from the book for my own amusement. The only reason that I haven’t is that I’d have to stop reading the book and take the time to actually jot down notes, and I’d rather not do that.
And finally, let me admit to a squee-ing, completely fangirl-ish love for two minor characters: the widow MacDonagh and Atticus’s canine companion, Oberon. They both steal the scene every time they appear and in many cases, they get the best lines. I’d love to give Oberon a belly rub and share a glass of whiskey with the widow, because they are two of the best backup characters that I’ve seen in a long time.
Okay, yes, I’m falling all over myself to praise Hexed, but it’s praise well earned. Rarely have I been so completely entertained by a story. It’s not often that you’ll find me at a bookstore on a book’s release date, pawing at the door like an impatient cat, but this series will have me there in no time flat. Hexed, and the Iron Druid Chronicles in general, are bidding fair to be my favorite books of the year.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on June 30, 2011.