Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Dresden Files: Fool Moon review

    I didn't like this book.

    Well, no, that's unfair. I like this is the least of the Dresden Files novels but there's nothing that offended me. There's even some good bits, more so than plenty of other urban fantasy novels I've read. If one were to read Fool Moon, however, one might walk away with an impression the series is much less than it is. As a result, if one were to skip any book in the series, I'd argue this is the one to do so.

    The premise of Fool Moon is Harry Dresden is investigating a series of werewolf attacks which are occurring around Chicago. Harry learns there are multiple different kinds of lycanthropes in the course of his investigations and not all of them may be evil. Even the good ones, however, are dangerous.

    Harry must make several moral decisions throughout the course of the book and determine whether his allegiance to the White Council's Laws of Secrecy trumps his friendship with Lieutenant Murphy of the Chicago PD. If he continues to lie to her about the supernatural he runs the risk of alienating her forever but if he tells her the truth, he will be responsible for any deaths which result.

    The relationship between Harry and Murphy in Fool Moon is the most troubling element of the story as the latter's behavior comes off as deranged. She insists on complete truth from Harry despite the fact she considers him an expert in the supernatural. I.e. Someone she should trust when he says that it's better for her to be kept out of the loop.

    I understand breaking off their relationship if she doesn't want to be lied to. However, Murphy goes the extra mile in this novel and arrests Harry in order to extort him into telling her the truth.

    People die as a result.

    A lot of people.

    Worse, the book treats Harry Dresden as the one in the wrong. Repeatedly, Harry makes prudent and wise decisions before the book punishes him for it. He always ends up being the one to apologize too and it becomes eye-rollingly bad. I desperately wanted to see Murphy apologize for her actions but she remains unrepentant. I've never really forgiven her for this. Even many books later, I don't like her character nearly as much as the author wants me to.

    All because of this book.

    Perhaps the part I liked most about this book is Jim Butcher going out of his way to establish there's multiple kinds of werewolves. We get each of them described as well as a basic taxonomy of what their role is in the supernatural world. Some of them are quite powerful, others relatively weak, and others still psychotic.

    If more authors took the time to do this kind of world-building, the genre would be far better respected. Fool Moon may not be my favorite book in the series but it creates a very interesting set of werewolves which I'd wished we'd see more of in the series.

    There's quite a lot of good in this book, despite my complaints. I enjoyed the nightmarish attack on the police station, Harry speaking with himself, the Alphas, and Bob's exposition. These good moments don't outweigh the bad. They just sort of even out, making a book which is neither bad nor good.

    Just there.


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