Novella Review: The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book 2 of Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries
Publisher: Subterranean Press (November 30, 2017)
Length: 114 pages
These Oberon side stories have been given a series name now, called Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries (which is just so perfect) so hopefully that will mean a lot more of these hilarious novellas to come! Spinning off from Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, this book once again follows Atticus O’Sullivan’s faithful Irish wolfhound as he and his owner embark (pun intended) upon another mini-adventure to solve a mystery and bring the dastardly culprits to justice.
While knowing the basics behind the main Iron Druid series will help you get the most out of this story, thankfully like its predecessor The Purloined Poodle, this one can be read perfectly fine as a standalone if you just feel like jumping in. This time, our doggie protagonist and his human are off to Portland. But first, Oberon would like everyone to know: Squirrels are pure evil and must be stopped at all costs—especially when they are so bold as to hitch a ride on the train.
After giving chase to a particularly impudent squirrel through the crowded Portland station and banishing it into a stairwell, Oberon and his fellow canine companions Orlaith and Starbuck inadvertently lead Atticus to stumble upon the scene of a crime. A man with an uncanny resemblance to him has been murdered, shot through the skull with a plastic bolt fired from a crossbow. Stunned and disturbed at how much the victim looks like him, Atticus is driven to do some investigating for himself, and with few leads to work with, the lead detective on the case reluctantly agrees to let the druid and his hounds help her out.
I’ve only read a few books in the Iron Druid Chronicles, but even with my limited experience with the series, it was impossible not to fall in love with Oberon. For readers who simply can’t get enough of this goofy pooch, you must read these novellas, which are completely told from his point of view, and as an added bonus, this book also features a lot more of his fellow wolfhound Orlaith as well as Starbuck the Boston terrier. Once again Hearne does a fantastic job putting his readers inside his canine characters’ heads, and all the doggy quips never failed to crack me up. In particular, Starbuck reminds me very much of my own dog with his adorable outbursts of “Yes food!” or “No squirrel!” which sounds just about right.
Compared to the first book though, this one was perhaps a tad less funny, with many of the jokes and pop culture references feeling a bit forced. The mystery plot was also a bit slapdash in places, with explanations that don’t make a lot sense or are simply glossed over to push the story along. Still, I can’t say I minded too much, considering these novellas are meant to be breezy little excursions on the side and nothing too complex. That said, in a head-to-head, I would hand the edge to The Purloined Poodle in a heartbeat, hence my slightly lower rating to this follow-up, but in the end you really can’t go wrong with either of these novellas which are both solidly fun and entertaining.
Bottom line? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Dog lovers, Iron Druid enthusiasts, and Kevin Hearne fans—this one’s for you. I had a great time with The Squirrel on the Train, which proved to be another lighthearted diversion featuring one of Urban Fantasy’s most popular and beloved pets. With luck, I hope to see even more books starring Oberon in the future.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of The Purloined Poodle (Book 1)