Author: Kevin Hearne
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: May 3, 2011
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Goodreads First Reads
Atticus O'Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors think that this handsome, witty, 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 and wields a magical sword. Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he's hounded Atticus for generations. To thwart this determined diety, Atticus will need all the power he can muster to deliver himself from evil.
Atticus is a fun character. He's a Druid, which is so different from a lot of the other stuff I've been reading lately. The ideas behind Atticus's magic are refreshing and interesting, and I like that it's something that hasn't been beaten into the ground already by various publishing trends. Atticus is snarky and smart, and a little dishonorable, and he likes to be underestimated. He treats his friends well and makes his enemies sorry. He's bespelled his dog, Oberon, so that they're able to communicate. Oberon is one of my favorite characters. He wants to be Genghis Khan and is obsessed with sausage and poodles. In addition to Atticus and Oberon there are some werewolves, a vampire, some crazy neighbors, a coven of witches, various Irish dieties, and a bartender who is possessed. Most of these characters are pretty cool, though they remain largely in the background. My only complaints would be that sometimes the characterization of these more minor characters is a bit over the top to the point where it became cheesy or cliché, but it's generally done in a funny way so it doesn't really ruin anything. The other is that it seems like most of the female characters (aside from his old lady neighbor) are overly sexualized. Granted, the majority of them are manipulative goddesses or witches and the other one is a flirty bartender, but still, as a female it made me roll my eyes a little. That's not to say that I think it's sexist or anything like that, just bordering on cheesy; the females in the book do have substance to go along with their sex appeal.
The setting is in modern day Tempe, Arizona. I think that, for people who aren't familiar with the Tempe area, the world building is a little muddled for the parts of the story that take place in the city. As an example, specific streets are mentioned without the surroundings being described. But I don't know these streets or the areas surrounding ASU, and find them hard to imagine without more information. The descriptions of the scenes outside of town, however, are described fine and easy to envision.
The plot is fast-paced. Atticus is attacked a lot so there's a good bit of Druid vs. enemy action. Dieties use him as pawns in their game for control of Tír na nÓg and, though the identity of the antagonist is clear from the beginning, Atticus can never tell for sure who can be trusted and who cannot, which leaves him with a great deal of paranoia. In the end there is a resolution, so there's no cliffhanger and it's not absolutely necessary to pick up the second book if you don't want to. I probably will be, though, because I like the witty Druid protagonist and his crazy dog, and I'm curious to see what happens for them next. Plus, at one point, Atticus started bitching at a girl for using a pronoun without an antecedent, and I fell instantly into nerdy grammar love.