Title: Storm Front
Series: The Dresden Files
Author: Jim Butcher
Is this book for me? It’s an urban fantasy set in Chicago. It features a number of magical creatures, a plot best described as ‘detective mystery’, humor and, occasionally, profanity. If that sounds appealing, then the book is for you. If you’re looking for Deep Meaning, philosophical inquiry, Tolkien-like worlds, romance or Quotable Wisdom, then probably not.
One of the things I like about the Dresden Files is the down-to-earth, often funny, very human tone, with a strong component of realism. Well, realism as far as descriptions and psychology go, anyway. Seeing that this is fantasy, you can hardly expect the world to be plausible.
Harry Dresden is an honest-to-God real wizard trying to make a living out of his talent in a world that is very similar to our own (except the part where it secretly and stealthily contains magic). He collaborates with the Special Investigations Unit of the Chicago Police Department, where director Karrin Murphy was generous enough to believe him to be the real thing and offer him a collaboration contract which pays most of his bills. He also freelances and advertises himself in the newspaper – which works as you could expect it to work in the real world. Prank calls and people looking for lost husbands via psychics.
I first doubted Dresden’s abilities as a wizard. I mean, what sort of a poor sod is so bad at the magic business that he’s perpetually starving, like a magic copy of Henry Miller? (Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” is often mistakenly believed to be porn, but it’s actually hunger and philosophy) After Harry Potter and the Wands That Achieved Anything With the Right Wave and Words, Dresden seemed to be woefully underpowered and tragically unprepared for life. However, my respect for him grew in time – Dresden’s strength lies not in his ability to blast holes in things, or to summon fairies (although he can certainly do that), but in his vast magical knowledge, quick wit, preparation and ability to think on his feet, back, knees, belly and however else he needs to think.
The novel, as fast paced as your usual action-packed mystery, starts with Dresden getting two cases at the same time: a police-related one via Murphy, concerning magical murders, and a civil one via the worried Monica Sells, concerning her missing husband Victor Sells. As if that weren’t enough, Dresden is under suspicion of breaking the magical law and placed under the “Doom of Damocles”, which means he has somebody prepared to kill him shadowing his every foot and looking for any minor transgression that would warrant his killing – and also under suspicion of being behind the magical murders that Murphy is investigating.
Yes, you can bet 10 pounds/dollars that everything comes together into a single plot. But Jim Butcher manages to keep you guessing and to make you jump to the edge of your seat in excitement every time something bad happens. And he does it with a charm and ingenuity that are just maliciously, gleefully, horribly entertaining.
One of my favorite scenes has Harry Dresden fighting a magical construct while pretty much naked, with a lusty woman trying to jump his bones while doors and elevators are ruined around them. And it all makes sense at the time.
Lovely writing, edge-of-your-seat sort of thing, also good for a laugh or a few smirks (Dresden’s style of telling the story is simply delicious). I am definitely recommending it – 4 stars out of 5 because I know that the series gets better and I need gradation.
Available via Amazon UK:
And Amazon US: