Note: Contains mild spoilers for previous books in the series.
Staked is the eighth novel of Kevin Hearne’s extremely popular IRON DRUID CHRONICLES. When this series started with Hounded back in 2011, the story focused on Atticus O’Sullivan, a two-thousand-year-old Druid (the last one on Earth) who owned a bookshop in Arizona. Hiding from Aenghus Óg, the Celtic god that wanted to kill him, Atticus was living a quiet life with his hilarious bacon-loving Irish wolfhound named Oberon…. until Aenghus Óg found him. Since then, Atticus has once again become embroiled in godly politics because it looks like Ragnarök is on the horizon and everyone is trying to get into the most advantageous position. Atticus has prepared by training up a pretty girl named Granuaile to be the world’s second druid. He has also freed his mentor, Owen, from a time stasis spell. So now there are three druids walking the earth.
Like the previous novel, Shattered, Staked follows all three druids on their separate adventures. Atticus and Oberon are out to rid the world of vampires after being betrayed by one that they thought was their friend. To do this, they’ll need the help of a ghost in Toronto, and they’ll team up with a former enemy. Granuaile and her hound have a few missions; Granuaile needs to get rid of the tracking mark that Loki attached to her and try to thwart Loki’s plans for Ragnarök. She also intends to stop her mean and greedy stepfather from polluting the earth with his oil production companies. Meanwhile, Owen is starting a new school for druids while trying to hide from a troll to whom he owes money. Atticus, Granuaile, Owen and the two hounds don’t come together until they meet at an epic battle at the end of the story.
Readers who have enjoyed the IRON DRUID CHRONICLES so far will likely be pleased with Staked. With its three point-of-view druids, it’s most similar to the seventh book, Shattered. As I mentioned in my review of Shattered, I have a little trouble believing in Granuaile’s voice, which makes her sections slightly rough for me, but I did enjoy some of her adventures. Owen is always entertaining as he tries to adjust his ancient mindset to modern times and, of course, Atticus and Oberon are always fun. Honestly, killing vampires isn’t all that exciting, but it’s just amusing to hang out with Atticus and Oberon, no matter what they’re doing, especially when Atticus is telling Oberon stories about his past adventures.
Even though Staked is entertaining, the plot doesn’t advance very far and some of the events — such as the need to kill all the vampires on earth and the desire to shut down the oil companies — feel like a detour. Some readers may find this frustrating while others will be happy with anything Hearne does just as long as they can continue to drink Immortali-tea with Atticus and snarf sausages with Oberon. Though global events seem sluggish, things are substantially different for all three druids after Staked. They suffer a devastating loss and a couple of relationships seem to be changing. It will be interesting to see what happens next.
The IRON DRUID CHRONICLES isn’t particularly deep reading, but in Staked I did learn a bit more about paganism in Eastern Europe, a couple of things I didn’t know about Norse Mythology, and quite a bit about Rosicrucianism. Also, the argument that Atticus and Granuaile have about what they should be doing for the earth made me think a little.
As I keep mentioning — over and over and over — the audio versions of The IRON DRUID CHRONICLES are wonderful. Luke Daniels is doing such a great job, especially with the male characters. (I’m not completely convinced with his Granuaile, but I think that might be Hearne’s fault and not Daniels’.) I highly highly highly recommend that you try the audiobooks. They’re produced by Random House Audio. Staked is just over 11 hours long.