So I still have a few audiobooks to get to, but I didn’t fancy jumping straight back into one after a very long listen with only a short, fluffy comic in between. So it made sense to go back to a series that is kind of guaranteed to make me enjoy myself. So Dresden Files it was. I didn’t realise quite how long it had been since I last picked up the series until just now when I was looking through my blog archive. Definitely long overdue for a revisit.
If there is one thing that can spur Harry into action, it’s threatening the people he loves. So when Mavra, the Black Court vampire that he tried to kill in Blood Rites, confronts him with incriminating pictures of Murphy that she will send to the authorities unless Dresden gets her what she wants. And what Mavra wants is the Word of Kemmler, by midnight of Halloween. Unfortunately, it looks as though there are several necromancers, apprentices of the eponymous Kemmler, who also want it and are ready and willing to use the most extreme methods available to them to get it.
It’s been a while since the bad guys were just other wizards, and not a vampire or Fae of some variety, which is surprisingly refreshing. But despite reverting back to mortal enemies, Butcher manages to bring in a little bit of everything else that has come before. And it makes you realise just how much has been established when little bits of everything is brought in to influence the turn of events. There is the influence of every one of the Vampire Courts, the Fae get involved as they are wont to do, Harry has issues with the Denarian coin that he tried to seal away in his basement, and many other little things that contribute to a surprisingly complex plot.
As always, the characters are the best part, even when working with a much smaller core cast. Sure, lots of characters turn up briefly, like my perennial favourite Johnny Marcone, but they tend to be one-scene wonders. The main cast can pretty much be narrowed down to Harry, Thomas and Butters. And I didn’t know how much I would love the character development that they both get.
First there is Thomas. In previous books, he always came across as a feckless, rich playboy with hints of inner depths. Now that he’s revealed himself as Harry’s half-brother and been cut off from the vast funds that he was used to, he’s had a chance to grow into himself a bit. It was really nice to see the parts where he and Harry get a chance to act like brothers: not necessarily always on the same page, but pushing each other to get better and look after themselves.
Second is Butters. When I first mentioned him in my reviews, I said that he was surprisingly calm about being confronted with evidence of the supernatural. Well, it turns out that there’s a big difference about recognising a non-human cadaver for what it is, and having the corpse of a former colleague burst into your office and try to kidnap you. There is lots of screaming, hiding and unexpected bravery. He might well count as one of my series favourite characters now, and I can’t wait to see him turn up again.
A really solid entry that manages to pull in elements from every book that has gone before it, and yet manages to not be a confused mess of supernatural mythos. Butters and Thomas get some great character development, elevating Butters in particular to joint favourite alongside Karrin Murphy and Johnny Marcone. Additionally, Harry makes some really big decisions that I think are just going to make the next entries in the series all the more tense. 4.5/5
Next review: Nightblade by Garrett Robinson