Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 16, 2013
OK, so I read a few of the reviews of this book accusing Mr. Hearne and Atticus of being misogynistic. Hmmm... These books are FANTASY and they're FUN. They're about gods and witches and the whole paranormal realm, for heaven's sakes! Ever hear of a god in mythology that wasn't capricious? Ever hear of a god who didn't use his/her attributes (including sex) to advantage? Of course not!
Not all the women are objects. Rebecca Dane, Atticus' other female employee isn't described as a sex object. Atticus might have a thing for Granuaile, his apprentice, but he's had a thing for her since she was the bartender at Rula Bula. He has nothing but awe and some fear for Laksha. Malina and what's left of her coven? Well, Atticus doesn't overtly describe or treat them as sexual; Klaudia gets a little of that treatment, but Atticus is a GUY! And the Widow MacDonagh? She's the one who treats Atticus like a sex object.
As for The Morrigan and Brighid. Again. GODS, folks! These two seem to think that because he's a guy, sex is a sure way to get to Atticus.
The Baddies in this book, the Baachants and die Tochter des dritten Hauses (The Daughters of the Third House) - yes, they read a bit like comic book characters. But even the hexen make their own remarks about how they should have chosen different shoe-wear for their pursuit.
Honestly, I haven't read anything to this point that makes me think it's all black-and-white. It's campy. It's fun.
Now... on to my review:
There's a LOT that happens in this book. The "hexed" part is due to die Tochter des dritten Hauses, who've decided that because Malina's coven is down several members (due to book 1 events), it's a good time to try to take over their territory and eradicate the Sisters of the Three Auroras.
Atticus is still dealing with the fall out of several escaped demons from hell, and does battle with one of the incarnations of Coyote to take it down - with arrows blessed by the Virgin Mary.
Bacchants, who are the furied, frenzied, female worshipers of Bacchus, get turned loose on a Scotsdale night club. Atticus needs Laksha's help to take them down - which she does, but only the 12 that she contracted for. That leaves 3 for Atticus, and boy does that get messy!
Not to mention that The Morrigan decides it's time to drop in on Atticus and have some magic sex to heal his missing ear. And while she's in the neighborhood, how about Atticus make good on his ages old promise to teach her how to make her own Cold Iron amulet. Except that The Morrigan's idea of sex is... violent, to say the least. And she's soon followed by Brighid, who offers Atticus the position as her new escort. Even though he politely asks for time to think on it, Brighid nearly incinerates his kitchen when she figures out that The Morrigan has been there.
So, this is a busy book. But it's full of laugh-out-loud moments and witty banter. Nothing sexier than a guy who can banter with Shakespeare quotes! And Oberon, the trusty wolfhound, provides many moments of insight and laughter.
Here are just a few of my favorite moments:
(Leif speaking) "Forgive me, but our association has allowed me some small knowledge about the way you think. You quoted Juliet just now. Are you suggesting I am something like Romeo here, Fortune's fool, perhaps, driven to a rash and ill-considered confrontation with Typbalt out of revenge for Mercuitio's death? Ant you think perhaps I will end tragically, like Romeo, if I pursue this course of action against Thor?"
(Atticus) "That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all," I said, "but if that were my intent, I owuld have chosen to speak as Benvolio rather than Juliet: 'Part, fools! You know now what you do.'"
(Leif) "I've always preferred Hamlet," he finally said. " 'Now could I drink hot blood, and do such bitter business as the day would quake to look on.' "
(Oberon) Dude. If that was a Shakespearean quote duel, he just kicked your ass.
(Atticus, talking about his ancient, mystic collection of rare books) "I like knowing secrets like that, and I admit that when I'm all alone in the shop sometimes, I rub my hands together greedily and laugh like a one-eyed, black-mustached pirate to think that I have a bona fide treasure map locked up in my cabinet."
(Atticus) "The scratchy sex, the ear, the second omelet ... it was all the Morrigan's Machiavellian machinations!
(Oberon)Atticus, you know I can hear when you're all spazzed up, right? That was a lot of alliteration for a doubtful Druid deliberating over a deity's dubious designs."
(Leif) "I am chill with that," the vampire said stiffly, tossing the half-ton boulder up and down like it was a tennis ball as he walked to the far edge of the building with me.
(Atticus) "You're trying to be cool now, Leif? Seriously?"
(Leif) "I am the sh*t, home slice, straight up," he replied.
(Atticus) "No. I mean, don't get me wrong, this is a great effort, but you still need to use more contractions. And your tone is so formal, it's like you're complimenting the pudding at a duke's dinner party. No one's every going to believe you're from the hood. But let's work on it later. Right now there are some witches up there in dire need of just deserts." (Typo in the book - I believe it's desserts, not deserts)
Atticus gets out of all the messes he gets into, of course. But only by the skin of his teeth and a little help from his friends. (The new missing ear isn't addressed as being healed, is it?)
Part of my enjoyment of these books is Mr. Hearne's keen philosophy about religion. Basically, that human beings give life to gods through their faith. So there are multiple versions of Jesus, Mary, Coyote, Thor, Bacchus, and the other gods running around - all looking and acting just like those who created them (their Believers) think they should. It's reminiscent of Neil Gaiman, and that's no accident, as Mr. Hearne is a major Gaiman fan.
In a conversation that Atticus has with the Widow about the Virgin Mary, he really brings it home:
(Atticus) "Yes, but Mary has free will, does she not? You would not imagine her as a slave to your prayers. She can decide for herself whether she would like to be made manifest in the image you offer--whether she would intercede or not. Aren't all prayers based on this assumption?"
(The Widow) "Well, I supposed they are. But it's so strange to think of it like that. It's all backwards."
(Atticus) "It's only a slight modification of causality. Faith is the bedrock of it all. It doesn't work without your faith. No religion does. As a pagan who subscribes to a completely different pantheon, I could never induce Mary to come here."
He seems to contradict his own philosophy, though, at times... but it's all a very interesting concept. Certainly a fun one to run with in the context of this series.
Leif is drawn into the hexen war, but only after Atticus promises to help him kill Thor version 1.0 in Asgaard. Laksha wants golden apples from Asgaard. So... we know that book 3 will need to be about Asgaard and Atticus making good on his promises.