Author: Kevin Hearne
Genre: urban fantasy
Length: 292 pages
Publisher: Del Rey (May 2011)
MY RATING: 4.0 stars
The first book of the Iron Druid Chronicles presents the reader with a generally likable protagonist by the name of Atticus O’Sullivan. He is by all outward appearances the proprietor of a tea shop/occult bookstore who enjoys walking his Irish wolfhound Oberon and helping his elderly widowed neighbor with the yardwork.
The urban fantasy angle is that he is a two-millenia-old Druid who is able to handle his share of demons, faeries, and the like. Some of the spirit of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and the material aspect of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series is apparent. Hearne went with the idea that all mythology is real, while the realm of the faeries is closer than anyone thinks.
Yet Hearne has made his own twist on the urban fantasies written in this vein. Atticus is a more upbeat narrator of his own deeds than Dresden is on a good day, making for more lighthearted storytelling. He handles witches and Celtic deities as a matter of course, but despite his age he has never quite grown up. Or maybe that’s just his way of dealing with twenty centuries or so of loss and frustration as he stays two steps ahead of Aenghus Og, the Irish god of love who really, really wants a certain magic sword back that Atticus swiped way back during the Iron Age.
Atticus’s magic is drawn from ancient Druidism, with a heavy reliance on herbalism and an iron amulet of his own design that makes his highly resistant to magic. He tangles up with Polish witches and contends with ancient Celtic war goddesses in modern-day Arizona. All in all, these elements work well together. Hearne handles this setup well, and delivers a very satisfying end to the story that makes full use of the cast of characters that he has laid out for us. I am looking forward to the sequel.
Recommended to fans of urban fantasy, Celtic mythology, and large, well-mannered hounds.