Atticus O’Sullivan is youthful in more than looks. A bit of a tree hugger and susceptible to the sexual charms of various Irish deities, Atticus is livelier than many urban heroes. Yet he’s also ancient, an immortal druid operating in modern Arizona. His magic is subtler than many urban heroes, giving him strong limitations that make his battles of a less certain outcome.
Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles get off to a rousing start with the first two books, Hounded and Hexed. I’ve happily burned through both. The series gives us some of the genre’s exhausted elements: vampires and werewolves, but they play third string to his use of less common tropes and get blended into Atticus’s well-developed supporting cast.
Hearne puts fresh spins on witches and gods without making them seem silly, as often happens when you try to update a cliché. Some immortals are better at blending into the modern world than others, giving them a nice contrast to Atticus, who poses successfully as an early twenty-something.
Little missteps, like a werewolf surprised by Atticus’s nudity after shape-changing can get overlooked when Hearne uses the scene for effective comedy. The mix of serious with light-heartedness is probably my favorite element of the series. I know I’m in for a fun ride without the constant weight of dire consequences that looms over so much epic fantasy.
The stakes are very personal for Atticus: threats are aimed at him, not the world, and I actually like seeing things toned down from the epic threat level of so much fantasy, though I don’t doubt that the looming conflict with a certain thunder god in the third book, Hammered, will take things to a higher level.