Publisher: Del Rey
Published: June 25th 2013
Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles, #6
For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.
Okay, this book is kind of insane. That’s not an entirely bad thing; bear with me here.
So far in the Iron Druid Chronicles, I think the only thing Kevin Hearne hasn’t thrown at Atticus O’Sullivan is the proverbial kitchen sink. Truth be told, I’m still kind of, sort of waiting for that to drop on him too. I mean, it could happen. If Jim Butcher can drop a twenty-pound frozen turkey on a vampire to kill it*, then a kitchen sink doesn’t seem so far-fetched – and given the insane free-for-all that the adventures of Atticus have been thus far, I might actually be kind of disappointed if something in this vein didn’t happen.
On the other hand, whether it’s a literal sink or not, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about these things. Butcher’s Turkey still makes me giggle when I think about it, even after so many rereads. The Kitchen Sink Of Atticus … had better get it right, or I think that event may see me indulge in my first throwing of a book across the room. The final leg of Hunted saved it from this reaction this time around, but even this has left me with some Serious Thoughts on the series.
The most prominent Serious Thought is that, as wildly fun and entertaining as it’s been so far, I want more out of it. And when I say ‘more’, I mean more drama. More consequences. More connecting with the characters, beyond the giggles and the raising of eyebrows. I’ve been building up to this position on the series for a while, but with this book it was finally thrown into unavoidable, stark relief – at least, through the first half. Until things began to pick up and really gather dramatic steam, I felt a bit like a yoyo. Or perhaps a tennis ball. A frustrated tennis ball made of Stop Snarking And Show Me The Drama.
The thing is, I wasn’t frustrated because I don’t think Kevin Hearne has the chops to make something seriously special out of this, in terms of character drama. I was frustrated because I think he does have them. Thankfully, however, there are enough of those worthy moments before the end of Hunted to show me what this series can become, and it’s definitely something special and absolutely worthy of putting on my shelf right next to Butcher, with or without the kitchen sink. Atticus doesn’t particularly need more Sink. He needs to show us how he might deal with having one dropped on him. Which leads me to the root of my misgivings…
Without going into spoiler territory too far, there is an event in the first half of the book where (after I recovered from the twitches of fangirl shock) I had very high hopes of finally getting that deeper emotional investment, both in the fallout from The Event for the characters, and personally. I hoped it would be a real turning point, both for Atticus, his general attitude to life and for the dramatic direction of the series. And … it kind of was. Kind of.
I don’t want ‘kind of’. This series can be so much better than ‘kind of’. I want ‘OMGWTFwhatwillhedonow?!’ – and this reaction is there to be had. I just didn’t want to wait for half of the story to go by before getting there. While there was plenty of life-threatening tension to be had in the events of the book, it wasn’t until the second half that I started to really feel it for the characters.
HOWEVER. When Hearne does turn up the heat under Atticus, Granuaile and even Oberon (yes, they all get their nail-biting/tear-jerking moments), there was plenty of ‘Christ, I hope they all survive this’ – and this is exactly what I wanted. I would still have liked to see those big moments get more reflection time afterward, because one would expect that much, but this is still a big step in the right direction for the series, in my view.
Also, I think a kudos is due for the way Granuaile is becoming more central to the story of Atticus, here. There are several POV switches throughout the book that show us certain important events from Granuaile’s perspective, and her ‘voice’ is distinctive enough to let them stand out. If Atticus is the one likely to get the kitchen sink tossed in there, then Granuaile is apparently the one who might get philosophical in wondering where it came from – and again, this is some added depth that I feel the series needs. I found myself recently agreeing with a friend that the character of Granuaile needed more page time and exploration, so this is definitely a welcome turn.
Upon reflection now, there is plenty about this book that outweighs the tennis-ball feeling I had early on. That said, however, I want to see that tennis ball slammed right off the court. I want to be right on the edge of my seat. I want the lump in my throat, the sore lip from biting it all the time (I’d say ‘biting my nails’ but that’s just icky), and the final fistpump of sheer relieved victory when the good guys win. I want an Iron Druid book I can love so bloody much that I hug it when I’m finished reading. And so I’ll keep reading them, because I don’t want to miss that.
* Blood Rites. Yes, it really happened. And it happened awesomely.