Opinions about this first novel of the Dresden Files vary widely. People either hate it, or think it’s pretty good (I don’t know anyone that loves it). This book is one part hard-boiled detective novel, one part fantasy, mixed together to present a lukewarm product that is not necessarily greater than the sum of its parts, but still an entertaining read as long as you don’t take it too seriously.
That being said, the Dresden Files series as a whole is incredibly enthralling; it gets consistently better with nearly every novel. I read all twelve of the currently available books straight in a row with no breaks, and haven’t enjoyed a series like that since the Ender’s Game series. The character development in all of the major characters, heroes and villains alike, is something I have rarely seen before.
And while each novel has a standalone story, there is a story arc that spans the entire series, and each smaller adventure ties directly into the progression of that greater plot as a whole. The key to this is that Butcher has already plotted out the entire series and plans to finish it in no less than 20 novels. That’s ambitious, but it pays off, as minor details and forgotten subplots pop back up with massive importance as you make your way through the series. It’s incredibly satisfying when these various storylines progress and resolve.
My only complaint about the whole series thus far is that you can’t really skip the first two inferior novels to get to the meat of the story without missing out on some details that will make the later novels more enjoyable. You’ll want to see the beginnings of some of these relationships in order to appreciate their development, and those complaining of Harry’s misogynistic nature may find that he isn’t quite as one-dimensional as he seems at first - far from it.
Storm Front is a decent novel, Fool Moon is about the same, but any fan of fantasy or mystery owes it to themselves to get through at least the first four Dresden novels before making a judgment call on the series as a whole. I’m confident that if you get that far, you won’t want to stop.
Rating: 4 out of 5