In “Staked” ($27, Del Rey), Kevin Hearne proves that his three druid protagonists are better when they’re together.
Coming on the heels of the somewhat disappointing “Shattered,” “Staked” follows much the same path. Atticus, Granuaile and Owen are separated, each running their own storyline. Atticus ramps up his war on the vampires, as he goes after Theophilis, the oldest of the monsters. Granuaile visits Asgard to have Loki’s mark removed and find a way to shield herself from the sight of the Trickster god. Owen settles in with his adopted pack of werewolves and begins to consider training a new generation of druids.
The result, much as in “Shattered,” is a disjointed group of tales that spend a large portion of the book not seeming to move the story forward very much.
Though I wasn’t incredibly bothered by the multiple viewpoints in the last couple of books, the longer it goes on, I just don’t think it’s working for Hearne. I’m still interested in Atticus’ story, and Owen’s viewpoint can be fun at times, but Granuaile is just not working for me.
I’m not sure if her storyline is not as interesting or if I just don’t like her voice or if it’s a combination, but I find myself checking out a little during her portions of the story. I’m not all that interested in her stepdaddy issues, and her confrontation with him in this book just makes her come off as a petulant child. Perhaps it sets up a future goal for Atticus and Granuaile as druids, but it was the fun of the series that pulled me in to begin with. Maybe I’m taking a shallow view of it, but I just really want to meet some interesting gods, see some vampires staked and move on toward Ragnarok.
Owen’s viewpoint, as I said, can be fun, and he has at least one intense chapter in “Staked” that brings a bit of a shocker and will have a big impact on the story, I believe. I do think the books could use more exchanges between Owen and Oberon, as those are some of the most entertaining parts.
Ultimately, though, I really felt like Atticus’ chapters were usually the only ones moving the story forward, and the other viewpoints were more filler material. When the three finally come together again toward the end of the book, things pick up, but even then, I’m left feeling a little “meh” about the book as a whole.
After an outstanding start to the Iron Druid Chronicles, the last two volumes have left me feeling a little cold and wondering if it’s going to be another series with a fantastic beginning and lackluster ending. I still have faith that Hearne can pull it all together and deliver the finale that Atticus and Oberon deserve.