“Storm Front”. Book One of the Dresden Files. Jim Butcher’s breakthrough hit. All describe this month’s book. Although Butcher’s first Dresden Files story was titled “Semiautomagic”but edited to later become “Storm Front,” it is notable that at 25 years old this was originally written for a creative writing class.
Butcher has created a number of memorable characters who are poised to become legendary within the fantasy genre. The first of these is Harry Dresden himself. He’s the only wizard listed in the Chicago Yellow Pages who cares deeply about his friends, too deeply where children are involved, and has a soft spot for animals. Dresden’s attire is also one for the legends, magic enforced leather trench coat, magic necklace and bracelet, magic wand and staff, and of course, a pistol.
Second of the heroes gallery is Bob the Skull. Bob is a spirit trapped in a human skull. He has been adviser to wizards both good and evil. Now, he is Harry’s best friend and magical consultant and trashy romance connoisseur. While ancient and wise, he is the comedic relief as well as a sleeping giant. Harry has said he is quite afraid of what Bob could be if turned to evil.
Lastly, Inspector Karrin Murphy, the petite, martial arts wielding, director of the Chicago Police Special Investigations unit. She is often the one who brings Harry some of his stranger cases and remains the anchor to reality in Harry’s life.
Butcher expertly introduces the reader to Harry’s world of magic and guides the ride-a-long with with Dresden on his investigations. The story has a rich plot, bringing the protagonist on a roller coaster ride as clues are unveiled often bringing Harry down physically and emotionally before lifting him back up again. The success of “The Dresden Files” has spawned a TV series, a successful series of audio books, a comic book run, an RPG, and a major cult following. It is well known that Butcher has planned a total of 20 books in the series and has just released the 13th.
Technically, “Storm Front” is an example of the Hero’s Journey and follows the basic tenets of the mystery/detective novel. Aesthetically, it is a fun read with wonderful characters and a colorful world all of which will leave the reader hungry for the next novel in the series. I give “Storm Front” four flags, but would give the whole series five. Enjoy this series, it’s worth the read.