Published 2011 296 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
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 non-aggression 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 neighbour'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.
Hexed is the second story in Kevin Hearne’s fabulous Iron Druid Chronicles urban fantasy series. You could try reading Hexed without having read Hounded first and, thanks to Hearne’s easy world building, I don’t think you’d be too lost. But the Iron Druid Chronicles is perhaps the most promising new UF series published in the last couple of years, maybe longer, so really you’d be mad to deny yourself the pleasure of reading all the books in order.
Hexed starts shortly after where Hounded, the series debut finished. It continues the adventures of Atticus O’Sullivan, an ancient druid hiding out in Tempe, Arizona. Since defeating Aenghus Og, the Celtic god of love, he’s not been keeping so much of a low profile. In fact, it’s fair to say that he’s no longer in hiding since just about everyone in the supernatural world now knows where he lives. Following his god slaying adventure he’s been inundated with requests to kill other gods – with Thor being at the top of just about everyone’s sh*t list. Why is Thor universally disliked? I’ve no idea – this seems to be a plotline for future books – but I’m looking forward to finding out. As a druid who likes living and wants to stay that way, he’s declined all the god-killer requests but there is trouble brewing in his own back yard that’s not so easy to ignore.
What follows is a non-stop thrill ride of witch killing, demon killing and Bacchant (maenad) killing – punctuated with visits from a wide variety of deities and officers of the Tempe police force. The story rushes along at a break neck pace, making the book just about unputdownable, and a one sitting reading is a distinct possibility. The quality of the story telling isn’t compromised by its rocket-like pace – characters are developed and world building is constructed along the way.
The Iron Druid books world building may owe a small debt to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods but they’re original enough not to be derivative. Similarly their popular style of story telling is achieved by using the best of established UF genre conventions – first person narrative, witty dialogue and comedy sidekick – but it is the quality of the writing that sets these books apart from the rest of an increasingly crowded UF field. Along with nerdy pop culture quips and a great use a current day vernacular language (as Atticus tries to point out to Leif, a Viking vampire, that nobody speaks proper English anymore) the author manages to slip a plethora of Shakespearian quotes and quips seamlessly into the narrative. Genius.
Hexed is a worthy follow up to Hounded – proving that the author’s successful debut was no fluke. I’ve got high expectations of Hammered (Iron Druid Chronicles book three) and can’t wait to find out where the author takes Atticus and his friends next.
Hexed is highly recommended for urban fantasy fans. If you like Jim Butcher, Ben Aaronovitch or Charlaine Harris I can’t imagine why Kevin Hearne isn’t already on your “must buy” reading list.
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