Foreword: Yes, it’s me. Hello! Nice to see you again. Good. Yes, not too bad. And how about you? Oh, that’s lovely. I’m sure that was a nice time. Well, it was nice seeing you. Don’t be a stranger!
I recently traded this book with a friend. Sharing books has always been scary for me. My likes and dislikes are so personal and so biased that I usually shrink away at the idea of having someone trample on them. Before going on Goodreads and reading the top reviews (some of which are very mixed and harsh), I raved about this book to her. And how could I resist doing so? I sped through it like a maniac, loving every twist and turn it had to offer. But after reading the reviews… I felt (and still feel) torn. I understand why some people don’t enjoy it that much. After all, it isn’t a ‘literature’ book. It may become a classic but not because of the beauty of the writing or the complexity of the plot; mostly just because it’s fun, fast and very amusing.
But let’s back up a bit. First of all, I’ll introduce the book itself.
Harry Dresden is a Wizard.
An actual Wizard. A bona fide, one of a kind, genuine wizard. Not that many people believe him. But a few people do and it’s those people who pay his bills. See, Harry contracts his services out and his favorite client is the Special Investigations Division of the Chicago Police. A mysterious double murder means that Harry’s skills are in demand, but the web of mysteries only deepens with each new bit of information he learns.
My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call. I’m in the book.
One of the main reasons that I love this first, debut novel of Jim Butcher is because I love a good reveal. I love it when people find out juicy secrets, or a secret is unveiled or the truth finally comes out. It doesn’t matter what genre it is, I just love a good bit of drama. As you can probably guess, this book is filled with those delicious questions of “Is he really?” or “Could he be?” or “Did he just do that?” Those are truly the moments when Harry shines the best. When he interacts with the normal, modern world and a bit of his old-world magic slips into reality; those are the moments when Harry really becomes a fascinating, endearing and unique character. In particular, I loved how Butcher creates reasonable explanations for old wizard tropes. I have personally always wondered why the wizard is always sitting by a roaring fire, or wearing rings or carrying a gnarled old staff. So reading these often funny explanations tickled me pink.
It was really Harry’s humor that made me love the book, instead of simply be endeared and amused by it. It comes in at exactly the right times and if anything, enhances the story’s flow. It also didn’t subtract from those moments that were sad, grotesque or action-packed. Like with many works of art that are based around humor, the hilarity can be an excellent contrast for a morbid story or theme (50/50 anyone?). While the narration is amusing, this is at its core a book about murder, suspicion and the underworld. And the grittiness isn’t lost by the sarcastic remarks or off-hand comments.
What did subtract from the flow and the content itself was the romance. Unfortunately, Butcher decided to make Harry a gentleman. Now, I don’t mean that as a compliment. I mean a le gentleman. A nice guy. A *tips the fedora* Milady, man. If you’ve been on the internet within the past five years, you may know of what I’m referring to. It’s that brand of cringe worthy female appreciation that just comes off as forced and downright lame.
I truly hope that Butcher steers away from making Harry into a gentlesir. I know that he’s meant to be quirky, special and a bit of an outcast. But if I read another paragraph like this I might just roll my eyes all the way out of my head:
Try and convict me if I’m a bad person for thinking so. I enjoy treating a woman like a lady, opening doors for her, paying for shared meals, giving flowers–all that sort of thing.
Clap, clap. Harry, you’re so unique among men! Truly, it is so rare for women to be treated like a person…
Anyways, this is a relatively minor complaint. The concept is strong and Harry as a character is also rather endearing and interesting. There is so much potential for a sequel and for a series that really brings the reader along for the ride. And that is what Storm Front did for me. It swept me up in one mighty wave and, before I knew it, I was closing the book for the last time and thinking of when I’d be able to pick up the second (budget be damned!). Thankfully, the series has evolved into over fifteen books, all of which I will devour with a greedy impatience until I thoroughly tire myself out.
To tie into my original comment, I love the novel but I do understand why some people would not. It’s a lot like the new Harry Potter: Magical Beasts & Where to Find Them movie. While the Harry Potter world itself makes a good deal of sense, there are elements to that movie that just seem unlikely or down right absurd. And for some people, this can be a deal breaker for their enjoyment. However, I never went into the book with expectations. I went in with a clear, open mind and just took whatever came at me. If I were to compare this to any novel, I would compare it to Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Hilarious, quick and yet thoughtful. But don’t read too much into it or you’ll ruin the fun for yourself.
When I heard that there was an T.V. series adapted from the book, I nearly squealed in glee. Boy, what a let down. I can’t even explain how corny, cheesy and bad the show is. Why not just watch its trailer for yourself. Or don’t.