Author: Kevin Hearne
Genre: Short Story, Fantasy, Fiction
Number of pages: 34 pages
Time it took me to read: 1 Day
The ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan gets more than greasy corn dogs and flat soda when he visits a carnival in Kansas to which his apprentice, Granuaile, drags him. He runs across a barker with a strange power over the crowd: attractive women leave their men and disappear into an unmarked tent, never to be seen again, and the men wander away, forgetting that they ever had girlfriends or wives. When Granuaile falls under the barker’s influence and enters the tent, Atticus isn’t about to forget it and move on. He and his Irish wolfhound, Oberon, pursue her and discover the horrifying secret to the carnival’s success.
Short Story Review:
I am going to start with two short tidbits of information:
First, while this short story is sold separately it is part of a larger anthology, CarniePunk, that comes highly recommended. I will be linking reviews to the anthology with the tag #CarniePunk. Keep an eye out for future reviews.
Second, I was struggling to get the last of my summer school students through their needed credits so I used this short story in the place of a longer novel. So this is a twofer review. I am going to put in my own review and then report how my high schoolers responded to the book.
I have been reading Kevin Hearne’s since 2012. His first series is called The Iron Druid Chronicles and this short story is part of that series. I have attempted to write reviews for this series but I love them so much that I am not sure how I would handle my audience rejection of them. I think I have evolved as a reader and blogger at this point in my life and I am ready to share.
Let’s start with the main character, Atticus O’Sullivan, who is the last living druid. Atticus along with his apprentice Granuaile MacTiernan and his loyal Irish Wolfhound, Oberon, are visiting Granuaile’s hometown to check in on her mother who thinks she is dead. They come across some pretty shady things happening at the freaks tent and proceed to try and defeat some demons, imps, and ghouls and hopefully save some human life at the same time.
I may be a little biased here because I love everything Kevin writes. This short was no exception. The characters come to life and his storytelling captivates his readers from the get-go. I am not including a review of the audio recording because I am a devoted Luke Daniel’s fan and in my view, no one can be the voice of Atticus or Oberon but Luke Daniels. Since this short was part of an anthology of various authors I assume this is why they went with a different voice actor. Thus, my review would not be a fair one. I do have to say that my students did like his reading though.
My students loved this read! I did have to do a bit of explaining about druids, magic, and some already established norms of series. One area they got a little hung up on was the idea of elementals as begins of the earth, but that didn’t last long with the humor of Kevin’s writing and their love of Oberon. There were laughs and lots of after class discussion as we stopped ready in the middle because class had ended.
Here are some drawings and words from the kids:
“I liked the part where he says dogs make everything better…” – Angela M.
“The demons are really clever when they try to disguise themselves in human skin” – Esteban P.
“I like the fight scene and how the author writes because there is a lot of action and keeps me really interested. I normally don’t like to read. ” – Cesar Y
“I like how Granuaile stands up for herself and can kick butt. She is a strong woman who can kick butt. ” -Celeste L
“Oberon is my favorite character! His love of sausage, poodles, & hunting made me laugh so much.” – Daniel V
“I love the words ‘clueless crunchy guy’ to describe Atticus. What does that even mean?” – Chris A
Overall, “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street” was a success and I would definitely teach it again. The engagement level of my students proves its worth in the classroom. Thanks, Kevin!
Like my review and want to begin reading some of Kevin Hearne’s work? I suggest you start with one of these below: