The Dresden Files [Books 13-15]
by Jim Butcher
I can definitely see why Jim Butcher is considered a staple in the Urban Fantasy genre – he has an excellent main character (who is a tad whiny at times, but that’s kind of why I like him), loads of paranormal that will continually ding your creep-o-meter (even though I admit it doesn’t take much to set mine off), and plenty of action, humor, and intrigue. Overall, if you’ve never read an urban fantasy, this author is a great place to start. The best thing about him is that he seems to get better with each book.
I’d been warned that Ghost Story was a “reset” novel of sorts and nowhere near as good as the rest of the series. I’d been dreading it, but found (to my surprise) that it was a decent read. It offered glimpses into many of the supporting characters that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise (the unusual circumstance of the book gave Harry an unique POV). It also was kind of funny – something I always enjoy about Butcher’s work. Load all that together with a couple of compelling mysteries, and you have yet another Dresden success. I think most of the objections come from Ghost Story feeling so different from the rest of the books, and the fact that not a lot really happens within it. I agree it’s not quite as strong as some of its predecessors, but it still gets a solid 3-star (I liked it) rating.
There seems to be an overwhelming consensus that Ghost Story is the weakest of the Dresden Files, but I have to say I enjoyed Cold Days even less. My issues were twofold: I couldn’t figure out how certain side conflicts played into the plot as a whole (because they didn’t – they were just fillers), and I didn’t particularly like the way the author expanded the conflict. He didn’t quite “jump the shark,” but he expanded beyond the rules of the world he’d been developing up until this point in a way that felt forced – almost as if he’d been running out of ideas. Which, in all fairness, at 15 books published, was probably the case. All of the other factors such as character, humor, action, and mystery were consistent with his great storytelling, it was just the conflict construction that left me wanting a bit more. The good news? I accidentally started Skin Game before this one and loved what I’d read so far, which bodes well for what’s to come…
Following my two least favorite books of the series, I went into Skin Game fearing Jim Butcher had lost his touch and had dragged the story on too long. What a delightful surprise when Skin Game turned out to be one of, if not my favorite Dresden book so far. It had a strong plot (complete with an interesting bad guy), a good integration of the many fantastic side characters, and, of course, a ton of that snarky humor. It quickly turned a novel I was determined to “get through” into a book I couldn’t put down. Skin Game reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the series and I am genuinely excited to see where the story goes next. I don’t know how I’m going to keep myself occupied now that I’m finally up to date with this series. It seems like I’ve been working on it for ages…
If you haven’t picked up a Dresden book yet, just know you’re in for a well-conceived and sustainable series, jam-packed with scary monsters and a lot of snark. I consider them a must-try for any urban fantasy fan.
Other books you might like: