Foreword: To all of my readers, I hope that you have a wonderful holiday period. No matter where you are in the world, I hope you take some time to relax and focus on yourself.
Do you ever have that uncanny feeling that you have done something before?
I get it often. I’ll be walking somewhere or having a conversation and I’ll just get this overwhelming feeling that this has been done.
Déjà vu they call it. A French phrase that translates literally into the phrase “already seen.”
And this is exactly the experience I got while reading this second novel from Jim Butcher in The Dresden Files series.
The book first starts with Harry Dresden being again, down on his luck. His work has dried up and things with Murphy are on the rocks. That is until a new crime scene arises; one that is covered in blood, debris and wolfish paw prints. His intuition tells him that he’s dealing with a werewolf but it’s what type of werewolf it is that is the mystery. Soon, an entire underworld of secret packs and clubs arise and all of it seems to point back towards Johnny Marcone. Murphy might harbor a grudge for Dresden but he’s all she’s got and time is running out to solve the mystery.
The first book was an exciting and new read.
My favourite parts of the Harry Potter series had been when the muggles would interact with the wizarding world. I loved being exposed to that sense of wonder, amazement and fear. This was one of the reasons why the first book so enthralled me. It was new. It was exciting.
But Fool Moon was exactly the same experience, but without the freshness.
This isn’t to say that it was bad. After all, Dresden is still an interesting character and his back story hasn’t been revealed in its entirety yet. So I still have questions about his past and how he became so proficient and comfortable with magic.
I also do enjoy the female characters. Murphy can be infuriating but she is also between a rock and a hard place. She’s juggling the pressures of her job and those of a magical world she doesn’t understand. Her education into this weird new realm is interesting to read and when the focus is on this, I do enjoy her character immensely.
Susan has also won me over. She is torn between getting a good story and her newly blooming feelings for Harry. Butcher drops some intriguing hints about her motivations and I find her acceptance of her newspaper’s headline fakery and sometimes surprising true stories to be funny. She is a character that pursues the truth with a vengeance and there is clearly a reason in her past for this happening. The subtle hints dropped about this make me feel that there is a lot more this character has to offer.
One of my favourite parts of the book would be when all hell breaks loose at the station. The visual descriptions of the gore are fantastic and I really felt caught up in the fear and dread that the characters must have been experiencing.
However, to reiterate my point above, the book did unfortunately feel very similar to the first. Some descriptions (usually surrounding Dresden’s le gentleman approach to females) seemed copied exactly from the first novel. At a certain point in the series, Butcher will have to assume that if you are reading, for example, the fourth book in a large series, you know and understand the characters. I truly hope he doesn’t persist with explaining everything from the ground up again and again and again. Instead, the focus should be on character growth and development.
One of the biggest assets of the series is its play on magical clichés. And yet, at times, it’s usage of real clichés can be its downfall. The way that he has presented the FBI, the police and especially the underworld seems so superficial and without the level of complexity that he has given the magical world. Butcher almost relies on the reader to have their own preconceived ideas about how these agencies work and so doesn’t provide the depth and information that would make them seem real. This is a big problem in a book like Fool Moon when the main antagonist is part of an agency that has simply been brushed over.
An area that I also really struggled with is his explanation regarding the types of werewolves. These four types were mentioned once, relatively early on in the book and that knowledge did not really stick with me. This mean that parts of the book were slightly confusing as I couldn’t remember what type of creature he was dealing with.
As a result of this feedback, I can’t rave about this book. I enjoyed it on a simple level and it didn’t take overly long to read but it didn’t give me that same thrill that the previous book did.
At this point, I am torn about whether I should read the next in the series. It could improve as I do see a lot of potential. But if it doesn’t, I’ll probably finish my experience of the series with a bad taste in my mouth and if I can avoid that, I will.