The first novel in the Dresden Files series, Storm Front introduces us to the character of Harry Dresden, wizard and paranormal investigator for the people of Chicago. It’s a great premise but a rocky start to the series.
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Plot – 3.5/5
Storm Front is the first in an ever-expanding series by Jim Butcher. In the first novel, Harry Dresden, our protagonist, finds himself embroiled in a magical battle with a Dark mage when a double murder is brought to his attention by the Chicago homicide department. The story focuses on Dresden’s battles with said mage introducing some of the great characters we’ll meet along the way.
I’ll be honest – this was my first urban fantasy book and I fell in love quite quickly. I loved the mix of being able to relate to the real world but having fantastical elements mixed in too and Jim Butcher does a fantastic job (similar to Andrjez Sapkowski with The Witcher series) in making mythical creatures seem quite dark and cool.
The plot itself isn’t an absolute thriller. I enjoyed it due to the new genre, but there weren’t any major plot twists and there were certain elements of it feeling like an introduction book. However, I must say Butcher writes some fantastic action scenes. It’s never easy to make a battle that involves magic not sound corny but Butcher does a great job of it.
Characters – 4.5/5
This book is all about the characters. Harry Dresden is a fantastic character – he’s got a very dry sense of humour and doesn’t care about people’s opinions of him. He comes across as arrogant, carefree but also is shown to be vulnerable at moments too. My one problem with the characters or more, Butcher’s writing, is his description of women – all women in this book are described by their looks and nearly every woman in this book is “one of the most beautiful women he’s ever seen” which just feels completely unnecessary to the plot and has an element of Butcher living out his dreams.
The supporting characters all have their own distinct personalities though. You’ll love some of them and you’ll absolutely despise others. None of them are overtly deep in this first novel as it is essentially introducing you to them. But having read the later novels, I can tell you they get deeper and you do start to appreciate the different figures in this series for their own reasons.
Summary – 4/5
Storm Front isn’t perfect, it isn’t written perfectly and some of the ways that Butcher describes women has me feeling uncomfortable but other than that it’s a fantastic story with an unforgettable main character. Butcher’s ability to make fantastical elements and magic “battles” really engaging is something that’s not easy to do, but one he executes well.
I’d recommend this book to any urban fantasy fans or anybody who’s looking for something a bit grittier than your usual fantasy novels. The main protagonist is a bit rough but laugh-out-loud funny and the world that Butcher is building alongside the politics, cultures and different factions appears to start taking shape. If it helps, there are now 17 books in the series with an 18th guaranteed and the story develops to get much larger with many developments. Also, I’ve heard Butcher’s writing matures as he obviously learns what the fans did and didn’t like with his earlier books.