Tag Archives: fantasy

Review of Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1), by Kevin Hearne

cover image of Hounded, by Kevin Hearne

I borrowed a copy of Kevin Hearne‘s Hounded from the local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

Review:

I’m in a Fans of Urban Fantasy Facebook group and this book has been raved about several times. So, I decided to give it a go. I must be an outlier of some sort, because I seriously did not like this book. 

The writing and editing is fine. But I thought the main character was an asshole—much of his humor striking me as arrogance—and I was constantly annoyed at the representation of women throughout. 

At page 110 I wrote a Goodreads update that said:

May I introduce the women of Hounded so far: 
Beautiful goddess who stands around naked and kisses Atticus. 
Beautiful goddess who sleeps with Atticus. 
Causally mentioned ex-lover. 
Neighbor, who if “50 years younger” would sleep with Atticus. 
Sexy bartender that flirts with Atticus. 
Sexy witch that wants a potion to make a man impotent & is a bitch.
That’s it. Anyone see a theme? I see a theme. blrg

By the end of the book my opinion hadn’t changed. But it isn’t just that all of the women are reduced to their hotness (or not)—their sexual availability (or not). Nor even that several of them try to seduce Atticus (because he’s apparently un-resistible). It was the constancy and the tone of it all. 

For example, in the mention of the ex-lover the only thing we’re told about her is that she had a ridiculous tattoo and that she stormed out after sex because of a stupid reason. Thus, the reader is to understand she was crazy and not see Atticus as callous because he was relieved she left after he was finished with her (except he kind of was). Every woman’s body was described, and even the dog was constantly talking about Genghis Khan’s harem and about getting some ‘French poodles.’ The freaking final joke of the book is that Atticus arranged for the house to be full of French poodles in heat and Oberon was disappointed that there were only five. Women were reduced to sexual objects (or those who weren’t sexually available, to villains) and jokes. Someone try and tell me old Mrs. MacDonagh was anything but a running gag!

Of course the representation of women isn’t all this book consists of. But the way they were constantly treated contaminated every other aspect of the story for me. Add that to a main character I found juvenile and inconsiderate (who give magical wedgies to EMTs who are trying to save their life?) and I had to finish this book by force of will alone. I won’t be continuing the series.

Review of The Affair of the Mysterious Letter, by Alexis Hall

Book cover of The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

I pre-ordered a copy of Alexis Hall‘s The Affair of the Mysterious Letter.

Description from Goodreads:

Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation.

When Ms. Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham finds himself drawn into a mystery that leads him from the salons of the literary set to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. Along the way he is beset by criminals, menaced by pirates, molested by vampires, almost devoured by mad gods, and called upon to punch a shark. 

But the further the companions go in pursuit of the elusive blackmailer, the more impossible the case appears. Then again, in Khelathra-Ven reality is flexible, and the impossible is Ms. Haas’ stock-in-trade. 

Review:

This book came to me challenged. It simply had so much to live up to. Alexis Hall is one of my favorite authors. But more importantly, several years ago I came across a snippet they’d written that has haunted me ever since. I don’t remember if it was a piece of their then WIP or a standalone scene that had just come to them. But either way, it stuck with me and I’VE WANTED THAT STORY ever since. When I read the synopsis for The Affair of the Mysterious Letter, I desperately hoped this was the story that scrap of writing fit into. And if my memory of that scene serves, I think it is.

The challenge for The Affair of the Mysterious Letter, of course, is how can reality possibly stand up to something imagine by another (however vaguely) for years? In some ways it accomplishes this task admirably, in others it was me who posed an impediment to my own enjoyment.

John is everything I could want in a puritanic Watson- esque hero. Ms. Haas is everything I could hope for in a cryptic, sorcerous Holmes. Hall’s writing is crisp as ever, the story engaging, and (as so many others have said) the story is marvelously queer. However, I struggled with the frequent breaks in the narrative in which John attempted discourse with the reader (especially in the beginning) and the Lovecraftian world full of reality bending gods was at times hard to pin down. (On a side note, I kept waiting for Piccadilly and Co. to make a cameo. I really hope there wasn’t one that I missed. LOL)

All in all, however, once I’d gotten used to the pace, I truly enjoyed this book. Everything about John Wyndham is lovable and 100% hope I sensed a future romance in the works for him. I ship him and [deleted to avoid spoiler] hard core. I don’t know if Hall plans more books in this series. But I’d look forward to reading them if there are more.

Review of The Raven Tower, by Ann Leckie

I borrowed an audio copy of Ann Leckie‘s The Raven Tower through my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven’s Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. His magic is sustained via the blood sacrifice that every Lease must offer. And under the Raven’s watch, the city flourishes.

But the power of the Raven is weakening. A usurper has claimed the throne. The kingdom borders are tested by invaders who long for the prosperity that Vastai boasts. And they have made their own alliances with other gods.

It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo–aide to Mawat, the true Lease–arrives. And in seeking to help Mawat reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven’s Tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself…and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever. 

Review:

This had a slow, but consistent pace. But I found that I continued to find chores I could do to keep listening to it. I enjoyed that the narrator was utterly unexpected and that the main character was just a tad off-centre from power. If you’re looking for a rollicking, fast-paced novel, this isn’t it. But it you like interesting, thought-provoking narrations it very well could be. This was my first Leckie book, but it won’t be my last. And Adjoa Andoh did a great job with the narration. In fact, while I’m sure I’d have liked the book regardless, I wonder if I’d have loved it as much as I did had I not listened to it.