One of my fellow honours students raved about the Dresden Files and how it is such a well written series with magic and action. Since we share very similar interests in books, movies and video games I picked the first book in the series Storm Front up at Dymocks when we went shopping after University one day.
Title: Storm Front
Author: Jim Butcher
Date published: April 1st 2000
Page Count: 307
Meet Harry Dresden, Chicago’s first (and only) Wizard P.I. Turns out that ‘everyday’ world is full of strange and magical things – and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in.
Harry is the best at what he does – and not just because he’s the only one who does it. So whenever the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal capabilities, they look to him for answers. But business isn’t just slow, it 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 black 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.
Storm Front by Jim Butcher is a mix of magic, crime and mystery to create what a thrilling story that leads into an exciting series. Storm Front is the first book in The Dresden Files and sets the tone of the series as we follow a modern wizard as he tries to solve a series of gruesome murders with magical undertones. With a dark hero, mysterious magical rituals and a complex crime that needs to be solved, Storm Front is a thrilling read.
What strikes me most about Storm Front is the raw take on magic. Instead of the wands, cauldrons and fancy spell work we see in Harry Potter, the magic that Harry Dresden uses is one based on rituals, harnessing energy from yourself or other beings, symbols, circles and a little bit of Latin. I enjoyed this ‘traditional’ magic in this book and it pairs well with the dark crime elements that is the focus of this book.
Set in Chicago, Wizards also have a different role within the society. While Harry is very ‘public’ about being a wizard, he advertises himself for hire for cases and works with the Chicago PD, Wizardry is not common in this world. I really want to know more about the Wizarding society in the Dresden world. We are already exposed to the White Council, a part of the magical justice system, but I am looking forward to learning how Wizards fit into modern society.
The main character Harry Dresden is the narrator of these books and his personality is what makes this book an instant favourite of mine and he might be one of my favourite characters of the year. Harry Dresden is a Wizard for hire and works as type of PI for private clients as well as a consultant for the police. He has a black sense of humour and is a dark character who tells it like it is and does not live a glamorous life. Despite his bleak outlook on life and blunt personality, he sticks to his morals and obeys the Magic Laws at all times, even to the point where he accepts this may kill him. He is a unique narrator, at times breaking the fourth wall to make comments to the reader-sometimes to add information, provide a backstory, or most times to make a offhand joke. He provides an interesting perspective through his narration and his personality provides some memorable comments and witty one liners to break up the serious tone to the book.
Story wise, Butcher weaves together characters and mystery to write a great crime book with magical elements-a perfect combination for me. It was well conceived and the plot built up to a thrilling confrontation and action scene. However, while the build up to the reveal of the villain and the nature of the crime was well done, the exploration of the villains motives just was not there for me. I wanted to know more about why they did what they did, what drove them to the murder and crime and that loose end just bought the plot down for me a little bit.
Overall, Storm Front is a magical crime and mystery book with a dark but likeable main character, the Wizard Harry Dresden. It sets up such an interesting world of magic and I am looking forward to diving into the rest of the series.