This is one of the many articles/review that I have reblogged from Caffeine Crew, the collaborative geek blog I write for. I am in the process of truly posting these here on my personal blog. While they will be edited for any prior missed errors, I will not be really updating them beyond that so some information could potentially be outdated, erroneous, or defunct.
Harry Dresden is a modern day wizard who plays detective in this well written urban fantasy. He’s been a bit down on his luck and late on the rent when he gets a phone call from a mysterious “Monica,” who asks him to find out what her husband has been up to in a typical “wife is worried hubby is cheating” scheme. Not his normal work, but he could use the money, and one of Harry’s weaknesses it not being able to deny a damsel in distress. He agrees to meet with this Monica person, but before that appointment he gets another more urgent call from Karrin Murphy of the Chicago police about two dead bodies that she needs him to look at asap. Harry also works as a consultant for the Chicago PD. It pays the bills and gets him out of the office.
Thus starts absolute insanity. You’re reading and thinking, “Okay, he’s going to go take a look at these bodies and get back in time to meet with this Monica lady,” but then he gets kinda kidnapped by the mob on the way back to his office, what WHAT?! and THAT’S THE ENTIRE NOVEL! Stuff just keeps happening to him. Like how he had a date with one woman, forgets about a date with another who shows up at his door right before they get attacked by a toad demon, and he accidentally gives her a love potion that he HAD to make to get Bob the Skull to cooperate. They wind up in a magic circle to ward of the demon and did I mention that Harry is naked because he was in the shower when his date came calling? Yeah, that’s what it is. I’ve heard friends describe Dresden with the phrase “It’s like Harry riding a dinosaur down the streets of Chicago.” This is the absolute best description. The plotting is so twisty, cohesive, and well done (Butcher is a Scorpio, the kings of super secrecy). His snarkiness is appropriate and amusing, and some of the descriptions and metaphors are downright beautiful. They come as surprising in this often very gritty world that still has room for pizza craving fairies.
The main plot thread is Harry tries to nab a serial killer who’s using magic to literally rip peoples’ hearts out of their bodies, bolstering their magic by using the power of storms, and the chase becomes more desperate when Harry himself is next on the list. The B plot is what’s going on with Monica and her husband, and Butcher is a genius at twining these two together. Our resident wizard detective is also trying to keep out of the fire himself since the White Council of wizards is looking for any excuse to execute him. *spoiler* Harry was forced to kill his magic mentor who turned evil, and since killing with magic is a big no no even for self-defense, they decide to put him on wizard probation.*end spoiler*
Many times I felt as though I’d been plunked down in the midst of this world, but I wasn’t unhappy about it. There’s so much on the outer edges that you’re just hoping you’ll find out about as the novels progress. I actually wondered and double checked that I was reading the first book in the series. I was and I intend to read the next and the next until I’m caught up (this is an eventuality. Life became much busier after I wrote this). Looking back I’m surprised I didn’t see a major plot point all along, but that is the mark of a good writer: being able to throw all the clues in, but still managing to surprise the reader in the end.