REVIEW – The Dresden Files, book 1: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

StormFrontTrue Confession Time: Until last year, I had not read any Dresden Files books.

Sure, I was familiar with the property from my involvement in the gaming industry. I just never got around to reading it (and I do wonder where I was when these books came out; I would’ve read the heck out of these).

Storm Front is the first book in the vaunted Dresden Files urban fantasy series. It reminds me of a hard-boiled film noir detective story, if the bad guys were vampires, wizards, and werewolves instead of corrupt bankers and gangsters. (Of course, in Dresden Files, there’s nothing stopping the gangster from being a werewolf or vampire!) The first-person narration style strengthens this perception. Harry Dresden is a down-on-his-luck wizard, the only one listed in the Chicago phone book. He’s likable, despite a character flaw which is a personal pet peeve of mine: poor communication skills (he often withholds information for someone’s own good which ends up causing him much trouble and many misunderstandings… if ONLY he’d told so-and-so the truth… etc.). It remains to be see how much the character grows out of this unfortunate habit in subsequent novels.

In short, Harry Dresden is called upon by the police to help them solve a murder which clearly has supernatural origins. In the meantime, he’s hired to privately investigate a woman’s missing husband case. To give the resolution would be spoilerific, so I’ll just say it’s entertaining, the world is engaging and believable (assuming you buy into the whole urban fantasy schtick to begin with), and the characters are likeable when they’re supposed to be, and hissable when they’re bad. The book was shorter than I expected (I’ve gotten used to doorstoppers by default for anything remotely labeled as fantasy) and read very quickly. Butcher gives you just enough information to “get” the world & characters he is creating without overloading you on unnecessary details. It is an approach I appreciate since reading should be enjoyable, not a chore.

If you’re interested in reading urban fantasy and have not yet begun exploring this rich and entertaining genre, you would be well-advised to start here.

My review of book 2: Fool Moon will be up in a few days. See you then!

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