Vampires are the reason why druids are in short supply in modern days. Druids have a special ability to unbind vampires without even touching them, and as a result, 2000 years ago the vampire Theophilus convinced Rome to hunt them down and wipe them out. Atticus alone survived and has been laying low ever since. But now with Granuaile and Owen effectively tripling the number of druids in the world, they are also on the vampire’s hit list, and Atticus has decided that now is the time to finally fight back and commit a little genocide of his own.
In the meantime, Granuaile is busy finding a way to cloak herself from the prying eyes of Loki, and Owen is beginning to train a new generation of Druids. To find success in their respective quests, our heroes often get side-tracked, but always with their eyes on the prize: preventing Ragnarok.
STAKED (book 8) by Kevin Hearne is the sequel to SHATTERED, both books a set-up for the coming of Ragnarok where a final battle of gods, good, and evil will collide. SHATTERED was an ok book (I didn’t review it) because it felt disjointed. STAKED feels less disjointed, but still is a check-off list that only congeals by the last quarter of the book. Sure set-up stories are necessary, but they can be hard to do well: placing the necessary chess pieces where they need to go, yet still be interesting, while readers would really rather get to the meat of the series. The majority of the time Hearne is successful, but there are chapters that do fall flat.
One of the best things that has evolved over the series is the change from only Atticus’ PoV to the gradual addition of Granuaile and Owen. I love how distinct each of the three PoVs are, especially the cantankerous Owen Kennedy, who despite a huge learning curve about the modern world, embraces what he considers worth keeping. They each bring their own flavor to the stories, their own motivations, priorities, and life experiences. Owen, Atticus, and Granuille all have their demons, so they aren’t perfect, but are trying to do the best with what they know.
Another great part of the book are the details of the Druids’ use of their magic: how they use elementals, their shape-shifting, use of magical items to enhance their abilities. There is also a variety of gods, mythological beings, and witches, all with their own abilities and wants. I especially enjoyed the addition of the witches to Granuaile’s story, how they were able to interact, a direct contrast to how Atticus deals with them.
One of the storylines that distracted from the story and felt tacked on was Granuaile’s personal vendetta against her rich step-father. Why, I don’t know, wasn’t she helping Atticus protect her very survival from vampires instead of sabotaging oil wells? I get the Druid viewpoint, and wanting to protect Gaia from the pollution and destructive forces, and that she resents the way she was treated by him, but did she learn nothing from Atticus? The timing was all wrong, it made me want to skip her chapters because they had nothing to do with the plot as a whole.
Fighting back against the vampires is not without risk and Atticus’ friends take the brunt of the fallout; but at the same time the good guys gain unexpected allies. Still, despite its failings, STAKED is a rollicking fun story with plenty of zany antics, shenanigans of gods too powerful for their own good, and Atticus messing up everything for everyone else. Again.
- Recommended Age: 16+
- Language: More than usual
- Violence: Scattered here and there but not gruesome
- Sex: Referenced; too frequent and crass references to male anatomy (seriously, was this necessary?)
The beginning of STAKED has a handy chronology of the novels and short stories in the Iron Druid universe.