Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm Front
Jim Butcher
Urban Fantasy
April 2000
Roc Fantasy
ISBN: 9780451457813
322 pages
Format: mass market paperback

The blurb, from Goodreads:
Harry Dresden–Wizard
Lost items found. Paranormal investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things–and most of them don’t play too well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a–well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

The review:
I’ve finally, finally read a Harry Dresden book. I’ve been hearing about them for years now, and earlier this year I read a short story by Butcher set in the Dresden Files world, so I was primed to love it. And I like, I like very much. Enough that this is only novel I’ve finished in well over a month (and that’s a whole ‘nother post’s topic…).

If you’re familiar with the series, you know how wonderfully droll the humor is, and how Harry Dresden is a fresh take on the humble-yet-very-capable good guy. If you’re not familiar–Harry, the protagonist, is a wizard openly practicing in Chicago, although most who find and call his listing in the phone book think he’s a joke or someone who entertains at children’s parties. He has a giant-sized cat who owns him, a smallish basement apartment, a mischievous skull named Bob for a friend, and an appreciation for good beer.

Also, he’s pretty kick ass, and not in an over-the-top Superman kind of way. He’s a bit less of a showboat, and wizard or no, he has real limitations to how much he can do and take, something I appreciate greatly. It’s no fun when your hero is too powerful, ya know?

I found the plot to be okay, but not thrilling. What kept me plugged into Storm Front was Harry himself: how he views the world and interacts with it. His relationships with Murphy, his friend/liason at the police department, and with Bob, the skull inhabited by his friend/mentor/chief aggravator, really make the story. This is one of those lovely novels where I feel that, though it really is plot-driven in true mystery fashion, it is also a character piece. Hooray! One of the reason I am often turned off of mysteries is that many feel to me that you could just replace the super smart sleuth with any other sleuth of similar capabilities, and everything would be the same. There no sense of that here–Harry’s personality permeates everything.

Also–am I allowed to say this in a review?–I love love love finding an urban fantasy that doesn’t hit the cliches of the subgenre. Maybe it’s the publication date, maybe it’s just that Dresden really is a rarity in urban fantasy, but it was a relief for me to find a protagonist who balances the supernatural powers of being a wizard with being “just” a guy trying to earn a living. Harry has bills to pay, a cat to feed, and must work hard to meet his mundane and magical responsibilities.

All in all: I enjoyed the novel. Picked up book two right away. If you haven’t already read the series, give it a try. It’s much fun, if the first book is any indication.

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About Jessica

Dork extraordinaire, that's me! An unhealthy knowledge of Star Trek, a love of books, a fondness for purring cats.
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2 Responses to Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

  1. Book 2 is ok, though the folks you meet stay with you for a while, so it’s a key book. Book 3 is where the series really starts picking it. It dips on book 6, and is full throttle again until book 12. Book 13 is necessary to fix what happen in book 12.

    I love the Dresden Files. I *heart* Harry.

  2. ~ap~ says:

    I’m so happy you’ve taken the plunge! The great thing, well, ONE of the many great things about this series is that you can read it over and over and not get bored. Butcher has created a great cast of characters in this series and Harry is just awesome, in so many ways.

    Glad you enjoyed Storm Front! On to the next one! :o)

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