The Purloined Poodle
by Kevin Hearne
Cover Artist: Galen Dara
Review by Wes Breazeale
Subterranean Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596068094
Date: 30 September 2016 List Price $20.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Over the course of eight novels and numerous short stories, Kevin Hearne has created an incredible character in druid Atticus O'Sullivan. Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles are a beloved and exciting series, full of action and intrigue, as well as a heaping dose of cultural references and humor. And much of that humor is shared via a telepathic connection Atticus shares with his dog, Oberon. Owing to Atticus' powers as a druid, Oberon has lived far longer than any other canine and has developed a deep appreciation of our pop culture world. Within the series, Atticus and Oberon have many amusing, and sometimes confusing, exchanges.
Oberon's Meaty Mysteries: The Purloined Poodle is the first short story Hearne has written that is done exclusively from Oberon's perspective. And while the concept may sound amusing, the finished product doesn't quite live up to the expectation. Part of that may be due largely to my preferences as a reader--the asides that Oberon and Atticus have within the main Iron Druid Chronicles, while occasionally entertaining, on other occasions felt as if they went on too long. So an entire story made up that way didn't play well for me. If you are a fan of those exchanges, and based on early reader reviews I saw on Goodreads there appear to be many out there who are fans, then The Purloined Poodle will be highly enjoyable.
But if you are a fan of the well-crafted action and elaborate plot twists of the Iron Druid Chronicles, or of any well-crafted mystery for that matter, you may be a bit let down by The Purloined Poodle. The mystery itself is fairly straight forward, the solution not difficult for Atticus and Oberon to come by. At no point is Atticus really called upon to stretch his abilities as a druid, or even his abilities as an amateur sleuth, for that matter.
The story will be issued as a deluxe hardcover edition by Subterranean Press, which makes incredibly beautiful books. So that could be a selling point for completists who want something unique and different. But it also will be available for e-readers, at a much lower cost. For those who absolutely must read the story, as fans of Hearne and the Iron Druid, having that more affordable option is a bonus. But if you are merely curious, it may be best to wait until it is included in some collection that you can borrow from the library.