Book Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Ratings for reviews will appear above the fold, while the review itself will appear below the fold to avoid spoilers for anyone that wants to go into it with a blank slate.

Jean-Paul’s rating: 2/5 stars

Take your pulpiest detective novel.  Add magic.  Stir.

“Storm Front” is the first of the nerdgasmic “Dresden Files” series of books.  In this book, Harry Dresden, wizard detective, is immediately drawn into two seemingly unrelated cases.  Harry is first called in by Police Lieutenant Karrin Murphy to help make sense of two grizzly murders that may have been performed by magic.  Harry then meets up with damsel-in-distress Monica Sells whose husband has mysteriously disappeared and agrees to find him.  It is an intriguing setup, but everything that follows falls flatter than someone crushed by Bigby’s Crushing Hand.

Let’s start with magic.  There is lots of explanation about how magic is hard to control and it takes both a rigid belief in your powers and zen like concentration otherwise the magic goes afoul.  There are plenty of good plot devices that can be used with a magic system like this.  It is not a good plot device to make none of the rules apply to the antagonist except when it is required to advance the story.

Then there’s the character flaws.  And I’m not talking about the kind of flaws that makes characters interesting.  Karrin Murphy acts like a bi-polar freak towards Harry.  Warden Donald Morgan consistently walks in on Harry just after the action ends to accuse Harry of being a Warlock despite the fact that everyone and their mother seems to know of the existence of the actual Warlock.  Harry consistently worries about Morgan despite the fact that everyone and their mother seems to know about the existence of the actual Warlock.

There were also some other minor points that bothered me.  For instance, every dead woman is found naked.  One could possibly be forgiven but the other was certainly just for titillation’s sake.  There’s also the minor deus ex machina that is Bob, the skull with hundreds of years of experience that allows Harry to make just about any potion he can dream up.

All that said, it is an interesting universe that Jim Butcher has invented.  Despite the fact that I disliked so much about the interactions of the characters, the book definitely left me wanting to explore the Dresdenverse further.  Hopefully, book two will fix some of Jim Butcher’s writing flaws.

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