Thursday, May 22, 2014

"Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1)" by Jim Butcher

Book #1 of The Dresden Files

I snatched this in another Kindle Daily Deal binge (yes, I realize I have a problem), along with every other copy of the Dresden Files they had on sale. Many people seem to revere this series, as THE urban fantasy saga everyone must read, and so I was excited to read this book and begin the adventure.

My first impressions were very good. There was mystery, humor, and best of all, homicide. In addition to those lovely elements, I was introduced into a well reasoned fantastical version of Chicago, that was my kind of town (Sinatra reference). I really like it when urban fantasy incorporates fabled creatures (fairies, elves, etc.) into a modern world believably, and the author did an admirable job of that.

The Plot:
Harry Dresden is wizard (cue the "You're a wizard, Harry" HP flashbacks). Let me clarify: a wizard for hire, visible to the "muggles" (non-magical people) and yet, still enigmatic. In his line of work, he does odd jobs: finding missing objects, consulting about paranormal happenings, and advising ordinary people on how to deal with such things. And sometimes, he consults for the police department, on crimes where nothing can be explained by science. He is hired by a woman who wants to find her husband, who had been interested in the paranormal before he went missing. Before he can start that investigation, the police call him over to a murder scene, where two people's hearts have exploded from their chests, a sure sign of a powerful black mage. But soon, Harry finds himself wondering if these two separate cases might not be so unconnected as they first seemed...

As I was reading this book, I abruptly came to the realization: something was wrong with Harry Dresden. Like the loathed Edward Cullen, and many other heroes of novels, he seems to have a problem. In my humble opinion, he's a... masochist. I was struck by this realization early: why isn't Harry Dresden taking care of himself? Doesn't he realize he's in dangerous situations in his line of work?

After reading much of the novel, I still have no answers. Is it because he seems to be a tortured soul, or something like that? Or does the author have it out for his character? It seemed like Harry was always staying up late, even though he knew he had to work the next day. Or running around with a injury when he should've been taking a rest. Maybe I'm in the minority with this one, but he just seemed to gallivant about when it wasn't really necessary, even as a man who struggles to pay the bills.

I loved this:

"There came a knocking, a rapping, at my chamber door."

           ~Storm Front, page 155, a reference to "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.

If you didn't get that reference, you might find yourself inciting...

...The Wrath of the Dorkie...
Something I must address: there was a negative review on GoodReads that said Harry Dresden is a "giant dork". What I find odd about someone saying that is, he is. He's supposed to be rather offbeat, he's a wizard with infrequent social obligations. And, quite frankly, people who read this book are probably that way too, including myself. To imply it in a negative light is truly asinine, because that reviewer read it too, and therefore, there must be some strain of hideous "dorkie-ness" inside that reviewer as well. I find it odd that people use "dork" in a negative light, as I am one. There is nothing wrong with being a dork- we're all awkward at one time or another. Sure, Harry Dresden wears a duster and cowboy boots (and at times, sweatpants), but I wear a Sinatra-like fedora and tie-dye shirts- is it wrong to dress different? Is it wrong to have quirks that make us different from all the hordes of people out there? Nope. To say so would incur... the Wrath of the Dorkie.

Storm Front is a great urban fantasy, but I couldn't bring myself to rate it a full four stars. I loved Harry Dresden, but at times I found myself gritting my teeth as he misused his body, never allowing it a break that it needed. The world was widely developed, but it didn't play much part in this book. The magic was believable, and yet somehow frustrating, because it wasn't very linear or easy for the reader to follow. I truly enjoyed this book, and plan on reading the rest of the books, but I don't consider it THE urban fantasy saga for me, at this stage.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars, for an interesting beginning to an urban fantasy series.

Content: This book is intended for adults, with themes of sex and violence. Ages 18+

Page Count: 322 pages

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