Friday, January 20, 2012

On Polish Witches: A Review of Hexed by Kevin Hearne

I treated myself to Hexed by Kevin Hearne because I really liked the first book in the series, Hounded (see my review HERE), and because I kind of felt I needed a break from YA and angels.

In this book, our hero, Atticus, is dealing with a very full plate. He has fallen angels, Bacchants, and tricky gods to deal with, and for some reason everyone thinks he should kill Thor. Because in this world Thor is a dick, I guess. But the main focus of this book is on a group of German witches who've been consorting demons, who move into the Tempe territory and threaten the  general peace. So, Atticus teams up with the Polish witches who live in the territory to kill all the nasty witches.

Positive Comments

I'm half Polish, so I'm simply tickled pink to see the touches of Polish language and mythology in this book. I love all of the mythology that Hearne makes use of. It follows the same logic used in Neil Gaiman's American Gods, where all of the gods that anyone has ever believed in exist, and some of them aren't too nice. This leads to endless possibilities, and I really enjoy the character interactions and plot lines that result from it.

I liked the plot, which has Atticus dealing with so many different obstacles. I like his motivation: he wants to stay in the area so that he can heal damaged earth, so he has to fight off anything that threatens peace. There's a ton of action, the book is never boring, and it all comes to a satisfying conclusion.

I love the characters. Atticus is completely unique, very intelligent, and very likeable. It isn't easy to write ancient characters (Atticus is 2000 or so?) and actually make them seem ancient to the reader. I know, because I've been reading vampire books for years and I've seen so many authors fail at this task utterly. Hearne succeeds spectacularly, dropping hints about Atticus's history, giving him mannerisms that make him seem weathered. At the same time, he isn't stuffy--he has a sense of humor, blends in well, and is self aware. The side characters are also fantastic. Oberon, the Irish wolfhound, always makes me smile. I like Granuaile, the apprentice. I think I'm a bit jealous of her, actually. I like Leif the vampire/lawyer. The list goes on.

Critical Comments

While I like all of the plot elements, I find myself wishing they fit together better. Some of them seemed like random and unrelated events that might become important later in the series, but felt out of place in this book.

Atticus's love life, sex life, however you want to look at it, has started to bug me. A tad. He's very casual about sex in certain situations, which I can buy because the argument is that he's from a time where it's less of a BIG DEAL. And it's not like I've ever wanted my book heroes to be celibate. But there's a scene in the book where he has sex with one chick, and then another shows up and she wants him, and flips out when she can't have him...And in the last book there was yet another woman. All of whom are high up on the mythological food chain, are beautiful, could have anyone and everyone, but want him specifically. And so it's starting to feel like wish fulfillment, and it's starting to bother me, because of the objectification of the characters in question. To be clear, I'm not arguing sexism here--this would bug me equally if we reversed all of the genders. I don't like blatant wish fulfillment subplots with lots of horny people who all happen to want the protagonist. Unless it's erotica, but that's a different story.

Ok, short story long...I liked this book. If you like urban fantasy, and you like it with a lot of obscure mythology, you should give this series a try. 3.5 stars.


  1. I am eagerly waiting for the second one in this series as I really enjoy these books. Having said that, I totally understand what you mean about the wish fulfillment sex thing. That bugged me in Hounded because it felt like every time there was a beautiful goddess around, Atticus was going to get some action. Even if the Morrigan does kind of point out that that's his weakness in the first chapter, I could personally do without it. I'm sure male readers wouldn't mind though :)

    1. Yeah, to be fair Hearne is not the only author to have wish fulfillment elements in his book--he's not even the worst. And to be clear, it's a nit picky flaw, and not something that should deter potential readers.

  2. I thoroughly enjoy this series - and without getting spoilery, I will say the series takes some turns in Hammered that might just improve your opinion of things. :)

    Personally, I think Atticus having a weakness for the ladies suits his character, and provides an important chink in his armor. I guess I just enjoy having some flaws in a character; he'd be too perfect otherwise. I also like the fact that every time he sleeps with one of those women, it comes back to bite him in the ass. Karma, baby! LOL

    1. I can see your point about giving him a weakness, but to me "Can't say no to the ladies" is almost a weakness that a guy would WANT to have. He's awesome and smart and strong and magical and handsome, and his only character flaw is that sometimes he sleeps around and gets into trouble for it. He's the James Bond of the magical world. Like I said, it's wish fulfillment. BUT, I'll be totally willing to revise my opinion if I see some good development in Hammered.

  3. I don't usually read urban fantasy but this one really intrigue me. I might have to check it out. Great review!

    1. This is actually a pretty decent choice if you're looking to just TRY something in urban fantasy. Good luck!


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