Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) Jim Butcher, Book Review

 

 

Goodreads Blurb

Harry Dresden — Wizard.

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.

 

My Review

Rating 4*

Harry Dresden is a Wizard for hire. Along with helping civilians with magical problems, for a fee, he also works with the Police Department when they have magic related crimes. In this first volume of The Dresden Files, Harry gets embroiled in a crime that spans magic and the mafia, while at the same time trying to prove to the wizard authority, the White Council, that he is not breaking wizard law by practising black magic. To make matters worse, the Police have Harry in their sights, too.

What makes a refreshing change for this type of Urban Fantasy is having a male protagonist and a male author. Though I really liked Harry, perhaps that is also why I found it a little bit difficult to stay completely immersed in the story. And the fact that Harry was a bit hapless simultaneously added humour to the story and turned me off. Perhaps it was my own expectations that tripped me up here. Even though I like to think of myself as an open-minded reader, perhaps I’m more set in my ways than I thought. 

There are some great characters in this book, Butcher has a gift for giving a real personality to his characters, all of them different, all of them with a back story. Even if he doesn’t share all of it with us, the reader, you get a sense of them without him belabouring the point. That is the books real strength, along with the quality of writing. 

It’s flaw, for me, comes from the pacing of the story. The first half of the book felt very slow, though I understand he was world-building, while the second half was relentless. Poor Harry stumbles out of one impossible situation straight into the next. I personally enjoy the odd moment of stillness in a book, a chance for the protagonist, and me, to catch our breath. And I do like my leading men to be a bit more Alpha male. Again, though, I’m willing to concede it may well have been my own expectations that got in the way. 

This was a hard one for me to rate because Harry is a contradiction. On the one hand he’s accident prone, not too great with women, and seems to attract danger, while on the other he’s a formidable Wizard. If I was rating it purely on how much I enjoyed the book I would have given it 3*. But if I take into account the fact that this is a well written book with great characterisation, a solid mystery and the ability to challenge my expectations at every turn, in good faith I can’t give it less than 4*. 

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