Murder and Magic: A Review of Storm Front

A friend of mine, a fan of this series, gave me Storm Front many years ago and said I should read it. It took me actually starting to write an urban fantasy to have any real interest. But now that I have read it, I can see why Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books are wildly popular.

This book is pulp writing at its finest. The story (and I imagine whole series) is written in first person, and Dresden is a sympathetic and likable character. A lovable loser, really. He lives paycheck to paycheck, earning his income by consulting for the police on strange crimes and doing freelance work as a wizard who can locate lost objects and perform other small magical feats. At the start of the book Dresden is called in to investigate a particularly gruesome crime scene on the same day a mysterious woman asks him to look into the disappearance of her husband. Needing the money, Dresden takes on both jobs, and the action unwinds from there.

Butcher delivers tight, plot-driven writing colored by Dresden’s insights into the world of the paranormal and arcane and his gentlemanly struggling hero personality. There’s zero fat in the book, and it is a fun and quick read. It also provides a great introduction into the inner workings and rules of urban fantasy for Dresden’s world.

While this is hardly the greatest book I’ve ever read, it is certainly one of the most fun. It delivers the kind of fast paced and page turning narrative you’d expect, and Butcher is able to deliver it better than most. If you haven’t already started reading the Dresden Files, then I definitely recommend Storm Front, especially if you’re interested in urban fantasy or paranormal detective stories. With summer coming on, I can also say that it’s a great beach read for those of you who are more speculative fiction inclined.

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