Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses or Other Entertainment.
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P. D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things – and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a – well, whatever.
There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get…interesting.
Magic. It can get a guy killed.
I love a good long series and this novel is the first novel of the Harry Dresden books. And I’m a little bit late to the party on this one, since this series is something like 12 books long now and I’m just now starting, but at least I’m finally here, right?
Reading this novel was sort of strange for me, but also nostalgic in a way. I was reminded of the first few Anita Blake books, before they became overly romantic and then descended into orgiastic porn. And it was strange because I’m used to a female point of view in these types of books, not a male. The reversal made me realize a few things that I hadn’t thought too much about in the past when it comes to objectification and the gaze, but let's not go into too much detail here. We'll just say I’m more aware now of the fact that it works both ways.
The story here was pretty good and moved along at a good pace. It’s the sort of book that would be easy to devour in one sitting. I think that my only complaint is not even specific to this particular book and more to the genre, which is that it felt formulaic. I’m not sure that it’s fair to complain about this aspect, but it just jumped out at me as I was reading. I may have reached my fill on urban-fantasy / paranormal mystery-romance books. Anyway, it doesn’t seem fair to rag on this novel just because I’m becoming jaded.
Harry Dresden as a character was likeable enough even if I didn’t like his lack of fashion sense. I suppose there is some sort of method to having your protagonist running around in sweats the majority of the time, but the least you could do is give the guy a pair of jeans. He doesn’t have to wear Armani suits or anything.
The overall story was entertaining, it was predictable and I knew who the bad guy was way before it was revealed. I wasn’t really expecting to have the mystery aspect “wow” me, so this didn't detract from the novel for me, but it might for some. If I wanted hard-boiled mystery I’d read books in that genre. The use of magic was as believable as these things get and it was nice to see a governing system in place aside from the main character’s innate morality or lack thereof and to have that governing body act as something that is actually obeyed.
One last thing that is actually pretty minor, but I enjoyed Butcher’s take on the vampire (also that it wasn’t central to the story) and I think I could enjoy a novel devoted to these kinds of vampires in the future. They were really just monsters with good glamour to hide their true, grotesque selves while in the human world.
Do I think you should run out and read this immediately? The answer to this question is a "yes, but." Yes, if you're already into paranormal detective books. But, while it's a quick read, entertaining and interesting, it's in no way unique. While certainly of a better quality than some, Storm Front remains firmly within this genre and is not revolutionary enough to change someone's mind who doesn't like this sort of book. Personally, I’ll be tracking down part two when my out-of-control to-read pile has been brought back to a more manageable size.
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