Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1)

Storm Front Book Cover Storm Front
The Dresden Files
Jim Butcher
Penguin ROC
April 2000

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he's the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don't play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, 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.


A close friend recommended The Dresden Files series to me, which was my main reason for picking it up. This particular friend is very familiar with what I like and do not like in fiction and knows urban fantasy is not really my thing, but he recommended it anyway. With all that in mind, I picked it up based on his suggestion and was happy to be proven wrong. Despite my current attitude towards urban fantasy, I used to love it. Storm Front is far from the first urban fantasy book I have ever read. That all being said, lots of things in this review are going to reflect my own experiences and biases with urban fantasy.

So more about the book itself and less about me. Harry Dresden, wizard and private eye, living in Chicago. Kind of like that one old HBO movie from back in the day, but with magic being low-key. Dresden himself is a somewhat typical urban fantasy protagonist. He is very powerful but shunned by his branch of the supernatural community because of <reasons>. Dresden is a loner, a smart aleck, a man caught up in trouble because of his innate need to do the right thing.

The world-building here is also pretty standard. Supernatural stuff is real and exists just under the surface of regular society. And the more well-known stuff is in pop culture, the better the odds of running into it. Tropes non-withstanding, it is easy to see why fans regard The Dresden Files to highly. The setting and characters are just complex enough. Nothing feels 2D but it is not difficult to follow either. On the whole, everything feels real. People are making decisions in a mix of emotion and logic, not just adhering to one or the other. Other characters are not as dynamic as Dresden himself, but they just have less face time so what are you gonna do?

Storm Front can read like a standalone book, which is true for most of The Dresden Files from what I understand. It will probably take some time before an overarching plot and villain appear. That being said, this is the issue I have seen with many urban fantasy series. They have strong starts but struggle to keep going. Oftentimes, the hero passes up opportunities to stop the villain and end the madness for moral or arbitrary reasons. I plan to keep reading The Dresden Files between other books, so hopefully, it breaks that cycle and holds my interest throughout. On the whole though, Storm Front is one of the best urban fantasy books out there.

April 7, 2019

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