Top positive review
more enjoyable than book 1, I'm definitely continuing on with this series
Reviewed in the United States on February 18, 2015
It's been a week since I finished this book, so the details aren't totally fresh in my mind. However, I will say that my general impression was favorable, especially in comparison to book one (Hounded). Because this is the second volume in a series, and the writer has a little experience under his belt now, the beginning was much smoother -- there was a lot less infodumping. (And what was there -- for example, the explanation of the dog Oberon's longevity -- was kept short and was better integrated into the story.) So the writing has much improved, and with it, my enjoyment of the book.
One thing that I thought was a strength of the previous book was that the main character, Atticus, was generally likable despite having a different sense of morality than a contemporary American would have (because of his upbringing in a very different time and place). There's a little evidence of that here (especially when he's out to save his own hide), although there are a couple of elements that seem designed specifically to elicit sympathy for Atticus (for example, the story about his activities during WWII, although there was at least a slim connection to the events of the present-day story there, as well). I guess we learn more about Atticus here, although I wouldn't say he develops any greater depth. I have found that with first-person POV series in general, not all books contribute equally to character development, though. Some volumes add more than others. So I'm not feeling cheated here.
I do think Atticus is a little bit less of a male Mary Sue here. He can't do everything on his own; he has to ask for help. And when he asks for help, he has to obtain it from people he'd rather not deal with, or to make compromises he finds a little distasteful. Plus, he has to clean up some messes stemming from his actions in the previous book.
As with the previous volume, most of the magic is based on Celtic mythology. However, other mythologies and theologies make appearances here as well. Atticus must rely on the prayers of a Catholic friend at one point, and we meet some followers of Bacchus/Dionysus. We also encounter a version of the trickster Coyote, and one of the characters has a personal problem with Thor. I rather like all of these disparate elements coming together in one place. One theme in the book is that belief plays a part in making the gods/goddesses what they are. And so only in a country like America, where there are people from all these different cultures living together, would these different mythologies and religions clash. So I think the setting was very appropriately chosen.
This book doesn't really stand on its own. You need to read the previous volume, wherein you are introduced to many characters, and there are a couple of things in this book that will probably get addressed again at later volumes in the series (Atticus makes promises to the witch Laksha and also to one of his attorneys regarding certain quests he's undertaking for them or helping them to undertake, and these aren't resolved; also, one of Bacchus's followers escapes and the implication is that she may be back again). There is a main conflict that is resolved by the end of the book, however -- a new coven of witches is trying to encroach on the territory where Atticus is living, bringing with them all sorts of bad news and events. I don't get too upset about this because I would not call the ending a cliffhanger and I expect some type of series arc to carry through any multi-volume series (there are a handful more volumes out that I haven't read yet).
I seem to remember trying to drop everything to read this, so the pace near the end must have been quite good -- and I definitely wanted to know what happened. In the end, I did enjoy reading this -- more than I enjoyed book one. It wasn't perfect, but it was fun to read and I'm looking forward to the next volume.