I’ve been horrible at the blog lately, I know. All that time spent finishing the novel edits and getting it ready to shop out to agents. Gah. What am I thinking? Well here I am with another book I’ve read recently that I really enjoyed the hell out of. And I also enjoy telling people about books that I enjoy the hell out of. As you do.
Today is Hexed by Kevin Hearne. This is book two of the Iron Druid Chronicles. I read the first book back near the start of the year, but I was hammered by my self imposed deadline to get draft 1.5 of my own book done and posted a group of mini pontifications for my five book backlog. Conveniently for today, that means I don’t have to run into the problem of repeating myself a lot when I’m talking about a series since the book one post was so mini. So hilarity is on tap.
Back of the Book time!
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 WWII.
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.
Alright the easy parts I didn’t get to expound on with the mini post. Atticus and his dog Oberon, which talk telepathically to each other, are hilarious. Oberon likes to make pop culture references and wonders why werewolves don’t want any dog treats. It’s a kind of friendship that’s very hard to write and terrifically rewarding to the reader when it’s done spot on. Atticus and Oberon are like Kelly McCullough’s Ravirn/Melchior and Aral/Triss or Scott Lynch’s Locke and Jean. As a writer, dialogue is one of the areas I have to work real hard at so when it really pops between two characters that have a long history, it doubly impresses me.
Now remember, I love some pantheon action. Godpunk is one of my favorite subgenres. One of the things I love about Hexed and the series in general, is that it’s the Irish pantheon, one which isn’t repeated so much as the Greco-Roman or Viking. (It’s funny I say that because the next book I write myself is going to be all about the Greeks) In the first book, it’s established that the other pantheons are around, we just don’t see much of them what with Atticus being an Irish druid and all. The non-aggression pact witches are all Polish and follow the Zoryas. Die Deutchestotten, which my D-minus in college level German tells me might translate to German witches, are all about the demon sacrifices. Figures from Christianity, Native American folklore and some of the good ol’ Norse play with the Irish out in Tempe this time around in Hexed.
The different faces coming in and out of Atticus’ live keep the pace of things always moving. At one point I did remember thinking “Oh that’s it, I thought more time passed.” Atticus has a real busy few days in Hexed. The conflict with the witches is the central thread through this book. The two covens have a history of animosity and Atticus had run across the German witches back during WWII. There are a couple loose threads from book one that show up, which I had completely forgotten that they were loose threads until I was told so. The problems of not reading every book back to back to back. Well, not really problem problems, more of a “Oh yeah, forgot all about that bit.” A lot of the Norse threads in Hexed are set up for the long play, probably book three but maybe even a longer play than that. Book Two problems since second books always stand alone less than the first.
Granuaile is just getting started as Atticus’ apprentice. They’re at the beginnigs of their snappy dialogue relationship as teacher and student. She hasn’t reached Oberon levels of dialogue snap. She’s very much in the early padawan stages so there’s not much arc yet. The arc’s got to carry her across the whole series, or at least a big chunk of it. Being an apprentice druid takes a long time one would imagine. And one should imagine because Atticus says as much when Granuaile signs on. I do wish we could have seen a bit more of the teacher-student stuff going on but that’s an after the fact thought. There’s so much going on I wasn’t worried about it while I was reading it.
So there you are. Hexed is a fantastically fun piece of godpunk. Even though the narrative is chopped up a little more than the first book, it’s because we’re planting some long term seeds that have to span nine books. That’s a tough amount of juggling to do, but the characters are so well thought out and delightful in their interactions with each other, the juggling act doesn’t bother me a bit. It just makes me want to read more and find out how all those long term seeds are going to turn out.