There's nothing like a good ol' action packed urban fantasy story to get a creative mind in gear, especially when said story is littered with delicious mythology. I've been a fan of the Iron Druid Chronicles since basically forever, and the latest novel in the series, Staked is by far one of my favourites, which is saying something. Kevin Hearne masterfully brings us back into a world of fantastic history, rich characters, pulse-pounding action, shocking twists, witty and hilarious dialogue, and glorious meat references (if you've read these books, you know what I'm talking about, and for the record, yes I did have poutine a couple days after finishing the book. And of course it had bacon on it). Staked is everything I want from the Iron Druid Chronicles, bringing new elements to the table and raising the stakes (no pun intended!) for everyone's favourite geeky Druid.
|I love every Iron Druid Chronicles cover, but this is one of my favourites!|
When a druid has lived for two thousand years like Atticus, he's bound to run afoul of a few vampires. Make that legions of them. Even his former friend and legal counsel turned out to be a bloodsucking backstabber. Now the toothy troublemakers—led by power-mad pain-in-the-neck Theophilus—have become a huge problem requiring a solution. It's time to make a stand.
As always, Atticus wouldn't mind a little backup. But his allies have problems of their own. Ornery archdruid Owen Kennedy is having a wee bit of troll trouble: Turns out when you stiff a troll, it's not water under the bridge. Meanwhile, Granuaile is desperate to free herself of the Norse god Loki's mark and elude his powers of divination—a quest that will bring her face-to-face with several Slavic nightmares.
As Atticus globetrots to stop his nemesis Theophilus, the journey leads to Rome. What better place to end an immortal than the Eternal City? But poetic justice won't come without a price: In order to defeat Theophilus, Atticus may have to lose an old friend.
As with the previous novel, Shattered, the story is told from three different perspectives: main character Atticus, as he turns into a vampire slayer that would give Buffy a run for her money, Atticus's apprentice/lover Granuaile as she increases her knowledge on Druidism and attempts to free herself from Loki's eyes, and Owen Kennedy, a Druidic instructor whose dialogue might leave some readers cringing with mild disgust, but will have you smiling anyway (especially when it comes to Realtors. I finished the book a couple days ago, and I'm still laughing about that). All three stories take place in vastly different parts of the world, but it's Atticus's mission to eliminate the vampires hunting him and the only other Druids in existence– Granuaile and Owen. On the way, they run across old and new gods, werewolves, and witches, truly making this novel an epic story with various quests and challenges.
I was pleased with the amount of growing that Granuaile did. She's always been a bit hotheaded, rightly earning her name as the Fierce Druid, and is a powerful female character, but to me her greatest depth came when she was at her most vulnerable. She is a fantastic character who's only getting stronger, and I really want to see where her story leads, especially in regards to her relationship with Atticus (they're made for each other and need to stay together, dammit!)
While I love Atticus and Granuaile to pieces, I have to admit that Owen had my favourite storyline. Not only was it hilarious (seriously, I had to bite my tongue at some points not to look like the crazy girl on the bus laughing at nothing), it was actually really deep regarding his character. Owen has had trouble integrating into a world vastly different than his, and it was refreshing to watch him begin to accept this and grow from it. I definitely want to see how this will come into play as he returns to his mantle as a Druid instructor.
That being said, Atticus had the story with the most action. Watching him fight vampires, face old enemies, and interact with gods was as fun as it has always been. Atticus himself has some growing to do, despite his age, as both Granuaile and Owen pointed out later in the book. I admit that I was hoping for a little more of a battle at the end, since I didn't find the major villain that intimidating. But I know that Atticus will have his hands more than full in future books.
I love the Iron Druid Chronicles. Each story brings something new to the table, and, as made clear in this book, no one is safe. I'm eager to see what the next book will revolve around, especially with the threat of Ragnarok looming over everyone's head. Regardless of where the next adventure takes place, I'll be waiting eagerly... with a healthy portion of bacon poutine as snack to make certain beloved hounds proud.