Hounded by Kevin Hearne Here was a book with a promising, even drool-worthy premise: Atticus O’Sullivan, formerly known as Siodhachan O’Suilebhain, is a 21-century-old druid, though he looks and carefully acts 21 years. He’s currently hiding out in Tempe, Arizona, the owner of a small New Age store. Atticus is cool with the local supernatural population – his werewolf and vampire attorneys, even the local coven of witches, for whose leader he’s pulled a major favor. He’s got a close relationship with his Irish wolfhound. Oberon, and shapeshifts to go hunting with him in the nature preserves from time to time. But his simple life is about to get more complicated: the Morrigan (who’s been keeping him alive all these years) comes to his store to tell him that Aenghus Og, the supremely selfish Celtic god of love, has finally tracked him down. Aenghus Og wants both blood from Atticus, and the ancient sword Fragarach. The goddess of the hunt, Flidais, turns up in his kitchen that evening to pass on the same warning. Things heat up from there, in more ways than one. The magic (since I always seem to describe a book’s magic system) is pretty cool – Atticus mainly uses his knotwork tattoos to draw power from the earth, plus he stores some extra powers in an iron charm necklace. Though we spend some time getting to know Atticus, this is essentially a plot-driven book, with lots of action keeping it moving at a good clip.
I prefer a little more emphasis on character in general, but I might have gone back for the second two books of the trilogy except for two things. First, a niggling complaint about the sexual mores. Atticus talks a nice talk about the druidic sexual mores being so much more forgiving and fun than tradional Christian ethics, but his actual attitudes seem less than progressive: he gets to hop in the sack with any semi-naked goddess who comes his way, but in terms of long-term relationships, he’s really looking for a nice sexily-but-modestly-dressed girl with no signs of any attachments to anyone else. And that might be just me having a particular button pressed – I’m feeling sensitive in general to the current culture for teen girls, which seems to be, “you must always look sexy but never seem to want sex.” But then, one of the things that comes out in this book (and this is somewhat spoilerish) is that while druids are definitely good and werewolves and vampires can be fine, witches are untrustworthy in general and nearly always evil in particular. Just where, pray tell, does Mr. Hearne think the audience for this book will be coming from? The Wiccans that I know are gentle earth-loving types, who hang pretty close to the modern Druid community and are often interested in Celtic mythology and fantasy literature. They would probably be offended at being portrayed as evil black magic users in opposition to the happy druids. Though I don’t like negative religious stereotypes in general, this one seems particularly misplaced. Witches have gotten bashed on in monotheistic literature enough without needing to get it from pagan literature as well. That makes this book disturbing enough that I won’t be going back for more.
Originally posted at http://library-mama.dreamwidth.org .