Storm Front - Jim Butcher

Author: Jim Butcher
322 pages
My rating: 5/5 stars

Jim Butcher is one of those authors that has been on my "To Be Read" list for a long time. It wasn't until a friend recommended that I watch SyFy's series The Dresden Files that I felt like I couldn't put it off reading Butcher's books any longer.

Harry Dresden is a wizard in Chicago that helps people with problems of an unusual nature. At times, even the Chicago Police ask him for help with crimes that cannot be solved using conventional methods. In Storm Front, the first book of The Dresden Files series, two people have been found murdered in a hotel room. The scene is grisly--the man and woman appear to have had their hearts torn out of their chest. Karrin Murphy of the Chicago Police knows the crime is of a supernatural nature and calls Harry in to examine the scene. He immediately knows that black magic has been used and to solve the crime he may be put in harm's way. 

Storm Front was an extremely fun read. Adventure, action, swaggering wizard, hard-nosed police detective--what more could I want for a quick Summer read? I really like Harry--he's smart, funny, and a little bit flawed which makes him relatable to the reader. He and Detective Karrin Murphy have a strong but arduous relationship because the paranormal is not the easiest thing to believe or feel comfortable with to the "normal" human being. I like the tension between them because it's what all noir novels have and need. Other characters in the story are also written with the same color so that you have definite, strong feelings and associations with them. There is Bob, the spirit stuck inside a skull, that constantly negotiates with Harry to give him temporary respite from his prison; Mac, the pub owner, who likes Harry but keeps his head down to avoid trouble with those who have magic; and Morgan, Harry's assigned Warden by the White Council, who would like nothing more than for Harry to mess up so that he can execute swift and final justice against him.

This may be one of the first noir books that I've read in awhile, and the book's gritty, dark vibe was mixed in with a little bit of humor made it difficult to put down. It read quickly, had an engaging plot that sucked me in immediately (I didn't even figure out who committed the murder until I read it--I will admit that I try not to figure out the mystery usually so I won't ruin the book for myself), and left me wanting to crack open the second book in the series immediately. One of the only issues I had with the book was Harry's wardrobe--a duster....really?!! Harry, you live in Chicago, not Texas! My friend (who is also a fan of the series) agreed with me and said the duster was "silly" and thought it might be a "geek-macho thing". Other than that, I think that if you like detective mystery/thriller novels and want to throw paranormal into the mix, Storm Front makes for a worthwhile trip the bookstore.

As I wrote above, I actually started watching The Dresden Files on Netflix Instant Watch before I read the books. A friend of mine has been hosting a Farscape meetup and I admitted to him that I'm a fantasy reader more than I am a science fiction reader (which I am in fact trying to work on). He immediately said that I should watch The Dresden Files even though it had already been cancelled by SyFy. I came home that night and watched the first episode, Birds of a Feather. I was hoping not to get too creeped out because frankly, the episode looked a little scary. I cannot watch horror films because it normally results in the bathroom or closet light being turned on for a month at a time when I go to bed. However, even though the episode was kind of creepy with the paranormal beings, it was not scary enough for me to lose any sleep at all. The show was really fun to watch. 

Since that first episode, I've watched two thirds of the series including the pilot episode, Storm Front, which was based on this first book. While the show is different from the book, I REALLY enjoyed it. I have been suggesting the show to all my friends that haven't seen it, and now that I've read the first book, I can recommend the books to them too (my post from the Books Application on my Facebook wall created some good discussion which resulted in my cousin saying that she needs to both watch the show and read the books). 

Big differences between the show and the books:
  • Harry Dresden doesn't wear a duster and boots! He carries around a drum stick for his wand and a hockey stick instead of a staff which is both more urban and updated, and let's face it, funnier!
  • Bob is much more parental and less out of control than in the book (but still smart and funny).
  • Karrin Murphy looks nothing like the description of Murphy in the book, but Valerie Cruz who plays Murphy does a terrific job in capturing the character's essence. I actually prefer her in the show than in the books because she seems a little more believable as a hard-nosed detective in her looks.
  • The show doesn't follow the books other than the premise, but it definitely pulls off the spirit of the books perfectly (as opposed to Legend of the Seeker which I reviewed for the Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge a few months ago).
I actually started following Craig Engler who tweets as @SyFy because I am really tired of finding all these great shows AFTER they are already cancelled. I really enjoy The Dresden Files. I really wish the show had better ratings because it was good and the actors are fantastic in it. Terrence Mann plays Bob and is one of my favorite actors on the show. Paul Blackthorne (Harry Dresden) and Valerie Cruz (Murphy) are also amazing on the show. I highly recommend renting it through Netflix or even taking the plunge (which I myself will most likely do) to buy the show!

**Notice of Disclosure: I received this copy of Storm Front from Penguin Books.


Anonymous said...

The Dresden Files are fun fluff and a guaranteed entertainment!

Carin B. said...

@Arborescence - Did you like that I quoted you? I thought it was a great quote so I used it! Hope you don't mind!

Rikki said...

I just saw the badge in your sidebar and had a look. The Dresden files have been on my TBR list for a long time. I actually started to watch the first episode of the series, but it didn't hold my attention enough for me to continue.
I almost always have issues with books made into films, or worse, TV series. Last bad example was True Blood.
Of the other books in your challenge I only read and watched Bridget Jones, which I liked. But that is mainly down to Clolin Firth, :-).

Carin B. said...

@Rikki - You know, I actually like True Blood more than the Sookie Stackhouse books. I think over the last few years I've just come to accept that TV shows/movies are going to be changed a lot from the books so I try to view them somewhat separately.

I really liked The Dresden Files series and a few people had been recommending the books to me so I gave this one a try. I loved it. They are short and fun (and pretty different from the show). Everyone tells me that the show really has no resemblance to the books so you might still give them a try. I would say they are the paranormal man equivalent to the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. Definitely just for fun reading when you need a break from life.

Rikki said...

Carin, I hated True Blood. I even ranted on my blog about the differences about the series and the books and what I didn't like. I think Alan Ball butchered the books. I can't watch something separating it from the books, like you.
I'll give the Dresden file books a try.

Carin B. said...

@Rikki - I think The Dresden Files is much better than Sookie Stackhouse (the books). Charlaine Harris is a fun afternoon read, but I think Jim Butcher is a better writer. I hope you enjoy them.

I do still like True Blood. I'm not going to lie! I also finished watching the one season of The Dresden Files that SyFy produced and I did like the show even though it's different from the books. :)

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