Laurie's Reviews > Hounded

Hounded by Kevin Hearne
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Jul 09, 11

bookshelves: urban-fantasy
Read in July, 2011

Pros: Interesting concept and world building, some good humor throughout. I particularly liked that character motivations were not always obvious and the gods were clearly working for their own ends, using humans as pawns and playing both sides of the conflict. While the one sex scene was awkward it was mercifully brief, thankfully short on detail and non-recurring. I like a good sex scene as much as the next person but it's become a joke in urban fantasies. The best character (with belief firmly suspended) is Oberon.

Also? Thank you, Mr. Hearne, for NOT using the 'my character was raped' trope (yes, this can happen to men). It's become sickeningly over-used in urban fantasies. There are other ways to develop conflict and character depth.

Cons: The story contains one-dimensional, predictable characters and quite a few scenes seem more geared toward showing off how cool Atticus is than advancing the plot. There is never a moment where Atticus' ability to overcome his enemies is in doubt and there is never a cost for using his abilities. Sleeping on grass isn't a cost, it's a camp out. Magic that powerful requires a heavy cost, otherwise he's nothing more than a comic book super hero without the Kryptonite. Magic auto-magically saves the day repeatedly, and sometimes unbelievably.

The ancient, powerful magical beings that populate this story have no gravitas, no 'otherness' to them. Granted, the goddesses and gods of the ancient world behaved little differently than humans according to their myths. That doesn't mean they're not alien, strange, and frightening beings. As they're portrayed here they come across as mundane jokes; another reason it's hard to believe Atticus is ever in any danger from the whole lot of them.

Another problem I had was the 'all female witches are evil' trope. Atticus has one friend who gets screwed over by one witch in 2,100 years and that makes all witches evil? For a being as theoretically steeped in observations of human behavior as Atticus claims to be, this view is incredibly myopic. If all myths are true in this world than there are going to be 'good' witches as well as bad ones. Let's hope that Malina and her followers are given the chance to represent for the 'good' witches.

And that brings me to the most problematic issue. The male characters are divided into good (Atticus, Oberon, Hal, Leif, Perry) and evil (Fagles, Bres, Aengus Og). The delineation is unequivocal. All the female characters are portrayed as evil and/or untrustworthy with the exception of two characters; Granuaile, who is literally a female-shaped vessel for something Atticus considers evil and untrustworthy, and Mrs. MacDonagh, the incredulous drunken neighbor lady with a possible IRA past. She will likely be killed off in a later book to generate sympathy or turn out to be, you guessed it, untrustworthy and/or evil, having lulled Atticus into complacency with her incredulous drunkenness. And don't get me started on the weak explanation for Granuaile's desire to be a druid.

I think it's good to see male authors dive into the urban fantasy pool. It's a genre in need fresh perspectives and male primary protagonists. However, I'd rather not see the same tired gender tropes played out as well. If good and evil are going to be so simplistic, let's see some unequivocally good female characters without the qualifiers of 'drunk' or 'hand puppet'.
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