My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Thanks to the vagaries of the Western Australian library system, I’ve read about half a dozen of Butcher’s Dresden novels, out of order, having arrived at them via the engaging and sadly defunct television series.
They get better– a *lot* better– but this opening volume is surprisingly weak: choppy, badly balanced, written with the kind of breezy lack of depth I’d normally associate with a Star Trek or Star Wars tie-in. It pulls deus ex machina out of its backside with cheerful abandon, sketches characters in with slapdash rush, and just generally feels like a good idea the author was incapable of taming properly before it loosed its chains on him. I usually enjoy the Dresden books as good-natured sorbet between weightier tomes, but this was hard going. And that’s before you get to the jocular misogyny that litters the book: women are either hard bitches, whores, or damsels in distress– sometimes in turn, sometimes simultaneously– but they are *always* liars of one stripe or another, and always either in need of a good seeing to or engaged in doing just that without his aid, at which point they’re back to being whores again.
I’m not naive enough to confuse author with text, particularly with a narrator as obviously flawed as Harry Dresden, but it does add a rather distasteful subtext to the novel that took some swallowing, and even my best intentions barely made it through the ‘love potion as rohypnol with added rapey goodness’ scene.
Had I experience this volume first I strongly doubt I’d ever have picked up another volume in the Harry Dresden series.