Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Blood Rites (by Jim Butcher)

Although this is the first of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden novels I've reviewed on here, it is actually the 6th in the series. This will therefore be a general overview of the series rather than concentrate on this particular book. Anything written here applies equally to all the rest.

Like Mike Carey's Felix Castor books, the Harry Dresden books are an urban fantasy detective thriller series of novels with plenty of pulpy action. And like the Felix Castor books they are awesome. However, whereas Mike Carey's books limit themselves to undead phenomena - ghosts, zombies, werewolves, demons - all of which are linked to the spirits of deceased people, the Harry Dresden books include all things mythical, magical and supernatural.

For instance, in Blood Rites Harry is employed by an adult film director to protect the women of his cast from an entropy curse (thankfully, the book does not stoop to describing the inner workings, as it were, of adult movie production in fine and pornographic detail. Or any detail really). In the meantime, Thomas Raith - a White Court vampire - crops up and reveals a connection with Harry that significantly changes the wizard-for-hire's view of his life. Pretty much anything fantastical can crop up in these books - magical curses, werewolf packs, mischievous fairies, evil elven courts, three types of vampire, a mysterious guild of sorcerers, and so on. He also has an interesting take on vampires, introducing 3 different types - White, Red and Black - with increasing 'monstrous-ness' instead of just the usual single type.

As well as interesting twists on the usual magical menagerie, these books are full of action. Even during the quiet, character-building scenes you're not far away from the next clash against sorcerous shenanigans. This usually culminates in a battle of wits against the big boss villain near the end of the book. In this case, Harry goes up against Lord Raith, who is immune to magic and also once 'knew' Harry's mother.

The Dresden Files series of books are one of my all-time favourites and this is no exception. Sure, the books are about as subtle as a brick and are hardly going to win prizes for high art but they are a heck of a lot of fun. If you're a fan of modern day fantasy or of supernatural fantastical thrillers or just pulp detective stories with a twist, then I recommend you go out and get the first book, Storm Front.

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