My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This time, Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, the only working wizard in the Chicago phone book, is facing a series of ghosts making more than a little bit of trouble in his town. Add to that a powerful demon that seems bent on taking out his rage on Harry’s friends, something brewing in the vampire world, and Harry’s girlfriend Susan’s reporter instincts have her looking for a scoop where Harry would rather she not go. Harry has to find out how- and if- all of this ties together before the his godmother finally forces him to own up to their bargain.
Well. I read the first two Dresden Files books and loved them. The combination of the noir feel, Harry’s snarky attitude, and modern day magic in a big city was really good. Then I picked this one up. It sounded like a good story, and in truth, the basic plotline is good. The problem is that Harry has become a full on Donny Downer in this book. It was so profound I went to look at what others have said and found I was not the only one who felt we must have missed a book between these two to explain how Harry got so depressing.
There’s more, though. First, I got a little tired of Harry’s constant “Hell’s bells” and other equally archaic sounding expletives. I mean, come one, Harry. You grew up in modern day Chicago. Let’s be a bit more now with the exclamations, okay? And the damsel in distress stuff was way out of hand here. Lydia, the woman who walks into the private dick’s office in dire need of help, is so stereotype she can’t do anything except run right at her pursuers. Even Karrin Murphy, Harry’s policewoman friend, is dragged back from the competent, capable detective and turned into just another woman who needs Harry to fix it all. Granted, a lot of what they run into in Special Investigations is out of a lay person’s ability to combat, but it seemed a bit too easy here. I liked Susan as Harry’s girlfriend until, by the end of the book, she was shoved firmly into the girl in the refrigerator trope.
Don’t get me wrong, the base story is pretty good. The red herring on the demon’s identity got me as much as it did Harry. Michael and his family are nice additions to Harry’s world, even if Michael is a little stodgy. He is a mystery, and an intriguing one. What or who exactly is he? And where did he get the sword that can channel divine power? Last but never least, let’s face it, anytime Harry’s godmother, Leanansidhe shows up, we know there’s going to be fun. Well, maybe not for Harry.
I tried to find a reason to give this more than two stars because of basic story being decent, but there were too many things that continued to bother me throughout the entire book. I have heard the series gets better in the next few, so I will at least read a couple more. But I will probably borrow them from the library until I see how it goes.
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