What can I say about Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series? Perspective-changing. Action-packed. Engaging. And most importantly, hilarious.
Harry Dresden is the only listed wizard in the yellow-pages. Working as a consultant for the Chicago P.D, he handles those strange, mysterious cases that are often a result of the supernatural world. This means vampires, werewolves, zombies, fallen angels, and the Fae courts.
Now, I have to be completely honest. I don’t usually read urban fantasy. When I fall into the world of a book, I like to be transported to an entire new setting, whether it’s the storm-ridden world of Roshar in Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings or Brent Weeks Midcyru in his Night Angel trilogy. I have to say though, I give all kinds of credit to Jim Butcher. Somehow he’s managed to make the city of Chicago feel like a new, alien world filled with just as much mystery as any traditional fantasy novel I’ve read. His prose and ability to seamlessly mix the cityscape of Chicago with the spirit-world of the Nevernever, and the underground world of supernatural threats in a modern setting is nothing more than extraordinary.
Speaking of, the supernatural creatures of the Dresdenverse. Polar to my views on setting, I’m not a fan of the stereotypical fantasy creatures. Vampires, werewolves, zombies? They’ve been done so much and in so many slightly different ways that they don’t have the same allure as completely new creatures and monsters I’ve found in other works.
But once again, Butcher steps up and delivers an amazing experience. Take Book 2 for example Fool Moon. Almost immediately we are made aware that the culprit of the crimes in the story is a werewolf. But instead of a stereotypical who’s the werewolf story we are left instead with, what kind of werewolf is the culprit. Four separate and unique types of werewolves make an appearance in this one story. A fact made all the more impressive when one discovers that Bucther has drawn each of these types of werewolves direct from historical folklore and myth. This same, attention-to-detail, focus is brought to all aspects of the Dresdenverse creatures.
Characterization throughout the books is astounding. With a large cast of characters, the amount of unique personalities that Butcher is able to weave together is impressive. Harry Dresden stays the same flippant, sarcastic, powerhouse that dominates every room he walks into. Also, of particular note, is the author’s decision to weave strong female characters both as main and minor characters, creating a full-realized world, something that the fantasy genre is often criticized for lacking.
With 13 books already published and a 14th soon to be released, there are probably some who worry about Butcher’s ability to deliver fresh and new material. Well let me ease any doubts you may have as each story has only expanded and grown more enjoyable as a whole. With a planned 20 or 23 book total for the Dresdenverse series I can’t help but be excited to see the completion of Jim Butcher’s vision that was started in the year 2000.
If you enjoy urban fantasy and you haven’t read The Dresden Files go pick up the first book Storm Front and enjoy the ride, both for it’s familiar feel and amazing content. For those holdouts, like me, that haven’t strayed too far into the urban fantasy pool, I can promise you that Butcher has crafted a world that draws you in and has you reading the 13 published books one after another in the course of a couple months like I did.
– As a side note for those traditional fantasy holdouts. If you need a little bit of easing into the urban fantasy pool, I would suggest taking a look at Jim Butcher’s traditional fantasy series Codex Alera, which starts with Furies of Calderon. Once you get sucked into that world you’ll want to devour anything else Butcher has written just for another taste of his excellent prose and writing.