Well, here’s something I haven’t done on this blog in a while: a book review! Having not delved into a book series since my love-hate relationship with Kathy Reichs’, I decided to try Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files on the suggestion of my fiance. Having read “Storm Front,” the first book of about 15, I can honestly say I’m hooked.
For those who, like me, haven’t read the books, the basic premise is a combination of crime novel mixed with mystery mixed with a heavy dose of supernatural elements. Harry is a wizard, though a much different kind than a certain other Harry you’re familiar with. He works alongside the Chicago police department to assist them with cases that are supernatural in nature. You follow Harry as he interacts with allies and enemies and solves the mysteries behind each case.
With that said, let’s focus on the plot of this one. Harry is called into action by the police to investigate the violent death of a prostitute and her john via magic. This is particularly bad as wizards aren’t meant to use magic for violence and especially not death. Along with having to find the culprit, Harry is also commissioned by a housewife to find her missing husband. Will he succeed in both attempts, or has he bitten off more than he can chew?
As is standard for most first books, it introduces Harry who in turn introduces us to his friends throughout the story. The main one is Karrin Murphy, who leads a special unit within the police dedicated to these supernatural crimes. She and Harry have a frosty relationship that I really enjoyed, as she constantly is annoyed and rightly so by his purposely secretive nature. Both of these characters are clearly in it for the long run and I can’t wait to see more of them. The other characters, both his friends and one-time allies/enemies, were described well and felt real.
A lot of what kept me reading this book was the writing. While in some places I wasn’t sure of the grammar usage, Butcher did a great job using description to explain how certain rules work regarding wizards and magic, and also vividly bringing locations and characters to life. Even at over 300 pages, the book was an easy read for me, though I tend to be a bit of a speedy reader in general. As with many mysteries, it even brings your attention to a character or two that you suspect as the culprit and throws enough red herrings and distractions in to make you forget your suspicions until the person is brought back. I obviously won’t spoil it, but let’s just say my gut instincts were entirely correct.
If I have any gripes with this book, it’s that it was initially hard to get a grasp on Harry age-wise. This might sound minor and it is, but the dialogue sometimes suggested either an immaturity or much younger man, rather than the apparent 30+ year old he’s supposed to be. I got used to it as the book went on, though, as I got more attached to him. The other gripe would be in the final chapter. Like with many beginning books, it wraps up everything pretty much nice and tidy, almost like what a film does if the director’s not sure if it’ll have a sequel. I get the intention since this WAS the first and could’ve been the last, but it also takes away a personal problem about Harry that was introduced near the start as something from his past. I don’t know if it comes back into play at any point, but it just felt like a little TOO neat and tidy of an ending.
Overall, though, “Storm Front” did something I didn’t expect. Once I picked the book up, I found it very hard to put it down. The story, characters and overall premise just got me invested from the get-go and made me want more by the end. I’m glad I decided to give the Dresden Files a shot, and I plan to continue with it. I may or may not review each book, but this was a great start. I give “Storm Front” a solid 9/10.