HEXED (Iron Druid Chronicles, book 2) by Kevin Hearne
Del Rey, 2011, 307 pages, 978-0-345-52249-8, Mass Market Paperback, $7.99
Despite reviewing this book so late in the month, I did purchase and begin reading it on release day* (and good job, Borders, for having it available by noon). I then went to my favorite café and had boba chai while reading the first five chapters because, as we know, the Iron Druid Chronicles equates to delicious, drinkable things.
From the very beginning, I was laughing myself sick. I mean, seriously, there’s so much humor in this novel–legitimately funny and unexpected humor–that it was an absolute effort to retain my composure in the very public café setting. Hence why I left after chapter five. I couldn’t take the strain of trying to contain myself.
As in his previous book, Hounded, Kevin Hearne delivers an engaging, fast-paced, and entertaining read. Atticus is dealing with the results of his fight against Aenghus Og and the notoriety (not to mention suspicion) his victory has earned him among other gods and those looking to settle scores against tougher foes. He must also, however, deal with the leftover demons escaped from hell and a new menace brought to his attention by the remaining members of the Sisters of the Three Auroras, with whom he has agreed to sign a non-aggression pact. Frankly, Atticus considers all of this more trouble than it’s worth, and he’d much rather be dealing with the damage done to the area around Tony Cabin, but a Druid does what he must.
The characters in this series continue to be fun and fascinating, and I like that Hearne has created a small core of recurring minors. Atticus’s relationship with them becomes more interesting during this novel, as it’s obvious that he cares for them, and yet it’s this same concern that begins to make him vulnerable and them targets. The widow MacDonagh is still, without a doubt, one of my favorite characters of all time, and Leif proves far more amusing than I ever would have anticipated. Atticus’s interaction with Granuaile made me laugh on occasion as well. His attempts to view her exclusively as an apprentice frequently fail, and watching him do his best to divert his attention from her many appealing qualities makes me feel awkward on his behalf.
Of the minor characters, however, Malina, has some of the more revealing character developments. In the last novel, her motives were fairly well hidden, as were her powers. In Hexed, her abilities and her (mostly) benign intentions are demonstrated when she works together with Atticus against a more malicious coven. We’re also introduced to the remaining members of the Sisters of the Three Auroras, each of which has a very distinct personality of her own–I wouldn’t mind seeing any of them pop up again. Additionally, we meet several other characters not previously introduced, but who they are is a bit of a surprise, so I’ll keep their names to myself.
Atticus’s narrative continues to be so engrossing that it propels the reader through the novel. And, as always, there’s action to spare, but it’s not exhausting to the point of wondering when it’s going to be over. Somehow Hearne strikes just the right balance and it shows in how easy it is to get from page one to page three-hundred.
In Hexed, the plot is three-fold. Atticus has to deal with remaining issues from the previous novel, a new problem that leaves a tail or two hanging for future installments, and an overarching situation that gets wrapped up completely. I like this sort of layered story, particularly since I know there are at least four more books on the way, because it gives me something to look forward to while also being confident that Hearne knows how to wrap up loose ends.
As I mentioned before, the humor in Hexed is just out of control, and I mean that in the best possible way. I really can’t pinpoint exactly what makes it work so well–Hearne must have the magical humor pen at home or something. All I know is that, from now on, anytime I witness something that I consider a travesty, I will refer to it with the phrase, “Like watching fifth graders trying to perform Wagnerian opera.”
Hammered will be out in another week and, by god, I’m going to have that review written and posted faster than you can blink!
*I purchased this book on my own for review, but I’m also listing it under Books Received since I did later receive a copy from Del Rey when they sent me a review copy of Hammered.