Monday, July 7, 2014

The Dresden Files: Storm Front review

    I love this series.

    I love this series so much, I'm going to go re-read each both and review them on my blog. That's how much I love the Dresden Files. What are the Dresden Files? The Dresden Files are the adventures of Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, the only wizard in the Yellow Pages. He doesn't do parties, fortune-tellings, or tricks. So, what does he do?

    Kill monsters.

    Also, find lost objects. Don't forget that. That's like 90% of his business.

    The Dresden Files are Jim Butcher's attempt to do a genre mash-up of Noir Private Eye fiction and Urban Fantasy. For the most part, it works splendidly, though there's a few hiccups at the start of the series. The Noir influence is a bit thick at the start of the series and its clear that Jim does much-much better comedy and straight-up good versus evil.

    The premise of Storm Front, the first novel in the series, is Harry is called to investigate a particularly spooky murder by the Chicago PD. The police don't trust or really believe in Harry at this point but they know he's real enough to get some results. Harry soon finds him embroiled in a conflict involving a supernatural drug dealer, the kingpin of Chicago's underworld, a toad-demon, his reporter girlfriend,  and a family out for revenge.

    So how is Storm Front?

    Ehhh, not really that good.

    But only by comparison.

    Way back when, I was interested in finding books similar to Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series (back when it was an Action-Urban Fantasy-Horror series versus porn). So, I was utterly enthralled by the book when it came out. However, in retrospect, it's not nearly as good as I remembered.

    Much of the series trademark humor is absent, the villains are far less colorful, and there's some uncomfortable moments like when Harry's girlfriend drinks a love-potion which works like a roofie. The latter is played for laughs with Harry trying to fight off the drugged out of her mind woman during a toad-demon attack.

     The book isn't very long and the plot isn't all that complex. The vast mythology and world-building the Dresden Files would become known-for isn't yet established. We have the White Council and other elements being established but the character of Morgan, who plays a big role in later books, is here little more than a cartoonish sword-wielding version of Inspector Javert.

    The character of Murphy, who becomes one of the most central characters to the Dresden Mythos, is unlikable and suspicious. Susan Rodriguez and Marcone are much more one-dimensional in this volume than they will be in later volumes.

    Still, there's a lot of potential here and that potential grows. The very act of putting a wizard in the phone book and having him investigate supernatural crimes feels good. There's also hints of Jim Butcher's trademark wit that will evolve in one of the most persistantly funny series I've read. There's much to love like the character of Bob the Skull and the encounter with Bianca the vampire. Sadly, there's a lot of room for improvement and some people recommend you skip these books.

    I don't but I'm a completitionist.


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