Harry Dresden, wizard for hire, is officially no longer a ghost. Back from the dead, he’s alive and relatively well, recovering from not being in the land of the living, and everything that happened to him when he was killed. But he’s not your usual wizard anymore, he’s the Winter Knight and under the rule and thumb of Queen Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. And this is also a Jim Butcher book, so in the blink of an eye, Dresden up you-know-what creek with nothing to paddle with.
When Dresden is finally somewhat back to normal, and enjoying his new superpowers as a Winter Knight, he is charged by Queen Mab with his first assassination, to kill an immortal. Someone who cannot be killed, the perfect seemingly insurmountable job for Dresden. He returns back to Chicago to meet up with some old friends and try not to get them too involved, because then they’ll be used against him. He also travels his his personal, powerful island, Demonreach, though he is more summoned. It is there he learns the true history and reason for this island located at a nexus of ley lines, and also that things are reaching crisis that could result in the end of Chicago and the surrounding area. And then there are a bunch of people out there who just want Dresden dead, as usual.
Cold Days is a return to the classic Dresden book, after the interesting and introspective Ghost Story. At times is seems like Butcher may have put a little too much into this book, as it can leave the reader exhausted in parts, with it feeling just too much at time. But then this is what fans have come to expect from Dresden and his world. There are also some hints and references to something much bigger brewing, something that will come to fruition in future Dresden books. Of course, for now, fans will just have to wait.
The subject known as “urban fantasy” has grown to become its very own strong and prominent genre in fantasy, and yet there are still many people who have yet to read an urban fantasy book, or an urban fantasy story for that matter. And where are said readers supposed to start with the glut of urban fantasy currently out, along with the many more works being published? An anthology is a good place to start; this particular anthology – Naked City – is a great one.
With so many different authors writing urban fantasy, it’s hard to decide on which one to like and read. Naked City makes that easy for the reader in offering twenty stories by different authors to get interested in and choose from. The book kicks off with another great romping ride courtesy of Jim Butcher, and this time Harry Dresden is on the case of the Chicago Cubs curse. Naomi Novik’s entertaining tale, “Priced to Sell,” is about vampires buying real estate in Manhattan. Patricia Brigg’s “Fairy Gifts” features a vampire called home to save those who freed him from a curse. Melissa Marr’s “Guns for the Dead” is the story of a dead man trying to get by in the afterlife, who keeps falling into trouble.
In the introduction, popular and prolific editor Ellen Datlow talks about the important of place in Naked City, with most of the stories featuring an important location as their focus point. Readers will learn lots about various towns across America in Naked City, as well as some other places not found on any known map.
Jim Butcher returns – a little behind schedule – with his thirteenth DresdenFiles book, which was pushed back a couple of months as Butcher explains in his introduction because he needed that extra bit of time to make Ghost Story perfect. We last left Harry Dresden shot and sinking beneath the waters, left for dead in Changes; between then and now a short story collection was published, revealing some great adventures, as well as some very interesting and important story- and plotlines that hadn’t been discussed in the regular novels. Now fans finally get to find out what exactly happened to Harry . . . if you don’t want to get spoiled, stop reading.
And Harry is pretty much . . . dead, but then that doesn’t really stop Dresden. He finds himself initially in a sort of between world which is a different form of Chicago, and gets some help from none other than Murphy’s dad, and before he knows it, he’s back in regular Chicago, only he’s a ghost and can’t be his regular old self. Harry has to think and work differently now, and employs the help of an old friend, the ectomancer Mort, to get by and help him find out just who exactly executed him, as well as to protect his friends.
Unsurprisingly, Harry gets into more problems and fires than he can handle, real fast, but to use magic in his incorporeal state he must use the power of memory. Butcher uses a great ploy here to give some great back story and history on Harry and his life that readers have been curious about for many books, to make his magic that more powerful. Harry doesn’t get to be his usual self as a ghost, so he needs to think about what he does, and be creative about it. Ghost Story is a more mature Harry that has been overdue, as he must now face his reality for what it is without any pretension. This thirteenth book represents Harry Dresden at his very best, as he must now begin a new chapter in his life, and this definitely shows in Butcher’s writing and storytelling, setting up for a great next book and a whole new world for Harry Dresden, wizard at large.
In this collection of short stories from Jim Butcher set within his unforgettable world with his seemingly immortal character of Harry Dresden, fans get some quick fixes after the cliffhanger of Changes, and the never ending wait of Ghost Story, coming April 5th, 2011. While this collection is not recommended for anyone not familiar with Harry Dresden, new readers can get a short taste of the characters and world that Butcher has created, and will be convinced to start the series from the beginning with Storm Front. As for longtime readers of the series, they will eat Side Jobs up like the delicious candy that it is (while they wait for that larger sweet payoff), as Butcher takes them on adventures with Harry and his friends and enemies, as well as addressing some important issues that could’ve used more light in the regular books.
The collection begins with “A Restoration of Faith,” the first ever Harry Dresden story written very early in Butcher’s career; in fact it was one of the first short stories he ever wrote, that was never published. He is to be rewarded for his pride in his character, and admits that the story feels like that of a young, novice writer. With Side Jobs, Butcher provides a description before each one, as well as revealing where it fits in the timeline of the series. After the first entertaining and shaky start, readers are taken on a fun, rollercoaster ride with Harry to all places strange and unusual. Along the way he meets up with Karin Murphy, where things certainly heat up – especially when people get drugged and are not themselves – to insights into McAnally’s and his renowned beverages. In the final tale –“Aftermath” – the time is just hours after the cataclysmic events of Changes, and while readers will have to wait until Ghost Story for all the answers, this story will at least hold them over until then. As for what the story entails, Butcher puts it best with: “to quote a great man: ‘Nuff said.”
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