Kevin Hearne’s Hexed follows hot on the heels of Hounded, the first book in Hearne’s urban fantasy series, The Iron Druid Chronicles. Only a few weeks after Atticus’s showdown with Aenghus Og, Atticus is already mired in the affairs of warring Polish and German witches, rogue demons, Bacchants from Las Vegas, and the first Druid initiate in centuries. He has also developed a sudden (and unfortunate) reputation among all world mythologies as a badass god-killing machine.
Characters: Once again, purely brilliant
All your favourite characters from Hounded are back: Granuaile, Hal, Gunnar, Leif, Widow McDonaugh, the witches, and (of course) the irrepressible Oberon. Every character’s personality is sharp and unique; if you’ve been following the series, you’ll know that Hearne’s writing is super fast-paced, and that extends to his ability to create a real character in a few paragraphs.
A few new characters are also introduced. The most interesting are the individual witches left over in Radomila’s Polish witch coven, and also one of the many incarnations of Coyote, the trickster god of several Native American tribes. It was a relief to see Hearne finally introduce Native American mythologies, considering the series is mainly based in Arizona. Overall, though, there are fewer new and hilarious characters bouncing around than in Hounded. I was a little disappointed – mainly because the characters in Hounded were all so darn fantastic, and I was hoping for more – but at the same time, at a certain point an author has to start working with what he has.
Plot is exciting and oriented towards the Big Picture
In hindsight, I appreciate Hounded as a fun, action-packed introduction to the world of Atticus. It’s relatively self-contained. Few plot threads linger into the next book. The Atticus of Hounded is more happy-go-lucky and unbelievable than the Atticus of Hexed. And with Hexed, Hearne dives right into the meat of the story, bypassing any more introductory heart flutters and cutesy personalities.
The events in Hexed are clearly meant to send the reader tumbling down the rabbit hole, and I can already foresee – albeit murkily – that some of the decisions Atticus makes in this novel will have serious repercussions for him down the road. Although the immediate conflict in Hexed is handily resolved in the end, there are far more threads left untied that I am eager, and a little afraid, to see addressed later in the series. Atticus’s characterization, meanwhile, deepens and ‘fills out’: we learn more of his history, more of his motivations, and more of his weaknesses – all in that snarky, sassy, charming and loveable voice of his, of course.
Perhaps a little … darker?
The difference in atmosphere is subtle, but I did detect a darkness in Hexed that certainly was not present in Hounded. Unlike in the series’ debut, some non-criminal and named characters meet their end in Hexed. The violence certainly seems more pronounced. And Atticus shows the hint of a dark side when he’s battling his enemies. This grittier feel is so subtle and natural that Hexed really doesn’t feel like a departure from the first book, but I do think that Hexed is a better reflection of what The Iron Druid Chronicles will become as Hearne gains more confidence.
Why should you read this book?
I said it about the first book and I’ll say it again: It’s got oodles of personality, lots of action, and a hunky Irishman on the cover. What more could you want? But seriously. Hexed is a fantastic sophomore effort by Hearne and gives a very promising glimpse into the future of the series. If you enjoyed Hounded – or if you were waiting for the second book to drop – then there’s no doubt in my mind that you will love Hexed. Give it a try. Oberon is waiting.