Every once in a while as I browse the new releases area of the sci-fi and fantasy section of my local bookstore, I get depressed that a lot of it these days is probably better defined as paranormal romance rather than actual sci-fi and/or fantasy novels. It seems like more and more if I want to find something truly new, unique and worth my time, recommendations from friends, rather real world or on-line, are far more fruitful and promising than anything the big-box book retailers are pushing these days.
Case in point–Kevin Hearne’s “Hounded.”
An urban fantasy in the tradition of the Dresden Files, “Hounded” is a fun, refreshing story about the last of the Druids, Atticus O’Sullivan. Atticus lives in Arizona, where he runs an occult used book store and runs with his shape-shifting friend Oberon. Atticus has in his possession a certain sword that a certain other ancient god would like back and the novel chronicles the attempt to retrieve it and the battle over it.
“Hounded” hooked me in from the first page with its sense of humor, style and wit and kept me turning the pages for the compelling story, well thought out universe and Oberon. Atticus is able to talk to Oberon telepathically and the conversations between the two (many centering on Oberon’s love of sausage and his desire for French Poodles) are the highlight of the book.
Reading “Hounded” reminded me of the first installments of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Atticus is a compelling, flawed hero and the novel feels like it’s putting some elements into play for a larger universe that could unfold in future installments. The fact that three novels hit shelves in three months speaks well of the publisher’s view of how well this series could go over. Easily one of the best urban fantasy novels of the year, “Hounded” is a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to more installments.