Title: Storm Front
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files
Genre: Urban fantasy, novel
Recommendation: An interesting read for those who appreciate dry humour and noir detective stories.
Summary: Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a wizard, under W in the yellow pages. Things are slow and he is behind on rent until a couple is found murdered by a magical force. In the same afternoon, Harry is threatened by a mob boss and hired to look into disappearance of a husband. Suddenly things start moving much faster...
Reactions: I have heard a lot of praise for this novel and overall was a little disappointed. Perhaps it just did not fit the mood, but I found myself often distracted while reading the first part of the book. The action just failed to keep my interest and it was unclear how everything was going to be tied together.
The biggest problem for me was actually the main character, Harry. The story is told from first person point of view where Harry narrates his adventure. After being in Harry's head for 300-some pages of the book, I found him to be too inconsistent and didn't find him particularly likable though there are some very well narrated amusing scenes in the book. This is the main reason I did not enjoy the book as much as I might have with a different character.
Most of the time Harry was on an emotional roller-coaster. One moment he would be super-powerful kick ass wizard, ready to take on the whole world. The next he will be tired and defeated, ready to lie down on the side of the road to die. It would not be so bad if these drastic mood changes did not oscillate continuously throughout the novel. In a way it made Harry predictable and irritated me because I knew that on the next page he will somehow recover his resolve and suddenly become hyper again.
The novel is also a little odd in how it mixes the mundane and magical. There are some very stereotypical words and figures when it comes to magic: wizard, white council, wizard's staff and wizard's skull. Many other urban fantasy authors bring modernity to their characters when they mix magic with 21st century technology. Harry, however, is anything but modern due to the twist where any technology he comes in contact with almost immediately stops working. Magic combined with his old-fashioned car, candles, etc, felt at odds to me.
I found the second part of the book to move quickly and be more satisfying. The plot resolution lacked a good twist, but there was enough of a mystery for Harry to power through in the book. The wry humour made the book worth reading and some of the comic scenes were absolutely brilliant. I imagine many people might enjoy the book more than I have.
Yet there was something about her that revved my engines, something about the way she held her head or shaped her words that bypassed my brain and went straight to my hormones.