So: White Night. A typical installment of The Dresden Files. Or not. Maybe that’s something I would have said back when I was reading books one through three, but I’m actually really impressed with the way that Butcher has fleshed out the world that wizard-for-hire Harry Dresden lives in over the course of the nine books in the series I’ve read so far.
In fact, the further I go in the series, the more I think that the way it’s progressing is much more akin to that of a hybrid procedural/serialized TV series than a series of novels. Each book could easily be compared to an episode, especially considering that each of them cover only a period of days. Like in an episode of Warehouse 13, just to pick one example, there’s a self-contained mystery that usually sprawls out to cover a variety of storylines, and then there’s the over-arching serialized stuff that gradually develops episode after episode. Fringe worked this way, too, for a while. Probably what’s really grabbed me about this series at this point is that Butcher is clearly not afraid of shattering the status quo and letting the story develop and change. Stories like that are my kryptonite.
This one takes place nearly a year after the last one, with Molly Carpenter firmly ensconced as Harry’s wizarding apprentice. Harry is having trouble impressing upon her the danger of her new job — she still thinks it’s a game, sneaking out to investigations when Harry has told her to stay behind, stuff like that. And Harry is also having trouble with his temper — good old fallen angel Lasciel is beginning to affect his personality, and it’s starting to scare people. Then somebody starts murdering women magic practitioners in the area, and Harry’s half-brother, Thomas, is the main suspect. Things escalate from there.
With the exception of one overly long and sort of pointless flashback (the first of its kind in the series, I believe), the pace on this thing just chugs along. The mystery got a bit convoluted at a couple of points, but overall, it was interesting and fun, and contributed to the story the whole series is trying to tell. His relationships with his friends and family are strengthened and he finally gets rid of his Lasciel problem for good. And as has been the case with the last couple of books, most of the players are people we’ve met before, which is something I really like as it adds depth to Dresden’s world.
I still have some issues with Butcher’s prose (his INCREDIBLE overuse of the world ‘quietly,’ for example), but honestly at this point I probably have no right to complain, because I keep reading the things, don’t I? If I want the story, I’m going to have to do deal with it (seriously, though, I searched on a Nook and the last book had 200+ instances of that word — it has lost all effect at this point and is now just incredibly annoying).
On to book ten soon*, probably in April.
*With the exception of book 13, which James Marsters wasn’t available to narrate, I will be listening to all of these on audiobook, because James Marsters is the voice of this series for me now. I love that man.