I was somewhat nervous upon approaching Tricked. I have never reread a series as much as I have the first three books in the Iron Druid Chronicles, and I was curious to as how Hearne would pull of moving Atticus. It’s generally something not done in Urban Fantasy, most authors may make pretenses at moving their characters, but they are firmly rooted in their identities, (often as guardians of an area) and thus never leave. Of course, Hearne pulls it off wonderfully, slipping away from being directly an Urban Fantasy (Perhaps Rural or Contemporary Fantasy might be more accurate) as he spends much of his time on a Native American reservation.
Many major characters of the first three books are absent for most, or the entirety of Tricked, and while these new characters were well written, I have to admit I missed the presence of others. Nonetheless, the characters that remain onscreen for much of the novel shine. Oberon is, as ever, a favorite. He is the ultimate comic relief among a group of very funny individuals, his wild hijinks and tendencies to obsess over his latest story-time protagonist lending the novel one of its memorable elements. Granuaile is very much a major character in Tricked as well, whereas in the first three novels she had less significant, if still regular roles to play. She is far from being a druid, lacking magic, battle skills, or much of Atticus’ knowledge, and yet she handles herself masterfully within her confines. Coyote too must be mentioned, as his role in Tricked, if the title didn’t indicate, is very primary to the storyline. In fact he serves as one of the many major motivators that fuel Atticus’ actions in the book.
Dialogue is still one of Hearne’s great skills. He can switch on and off, the power of a character translating quickly to humor, moving through all the shades in-between, which lends the story thorough immersion. I found myself drawn in for much of it, completely absorbed in this world of magic and monsters. As I have not reviewed the other three I must mention my love of his magic. It is broad and varied, emulating and encapsulating the many belief systems and mythologies of the human race. But Atticus manages to break it down in a druidic fashion to much of the nuts and bolts of the supernatural, no simple task when dealing with dozens of pantheons, faiths, and storybook nasties.
I think of all four books, Tricked easily has my favorite beginning. Its absorbing, telling you enough so you can grasp the outside of what is happening, while leaving enough to draw you along as the story progresses.
I don’t want to go much further at risk of discussing prominent spoilers, but Tricked has definitely proven once again that Hearne is both a masterful and versatile Urban Fantasy author, capable of switching many elements while retaining the core identity of his story.