Fool Moon – Jim Butcher
I have heard a lot of about Jim Butcher’s the Dresden Files and how great it is. Earlier this year I decided to see what all the fuss was about and read the first in the series (Storm Front), I was happy the hype wasn’t exaggerated. “Storm Front” was also considered to be the weakest book in the series and so it was with much anticipation that I plunged into “Fool Moon.”
Business has been slow for professional wizard Harry Dresden, who hasn't been able to dredge up any kind of work, magical or mundane. But just when it looks like he can't afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.
“Fool Moon” starts shortly after the events of the “Storm Front,” Harry is in a bar and discussing the dangerous outcomes of conducting magic that you do not know enough about to a sort of apprentice of his. This served a great way to recap what Harry is all about, his limitations and the general rules of the world Jim Butcher has created.
Harry Dresden is every bit as cool as the first book. He stumbles from scrape to scrape barely surviving each encounter with the supernatural and law enforcement. All of this is accompanied by his razor sharp sarcasm and wit.
The plot is frantic and Jim Butcher introduces enough characters and elements to make it complex enough to be satisfying. He is always careful to recap what has gone on so far at well timed intervals, so as a reader you never feel lost with the direction of the story. One clever device he uses for this is for Harry to have a conversation with his subconscious when he is unconscious. It sounds rubbish but it works well within the confines of the story.
The narrative often breaks the fourth wall as well. Harry will talk to the reader every now and then and this adds to the whole charm of the novel rather than detract from it.
The main supernatural element of “Fool Moon” is werewolves. Jim Butcher does a good job of portraying how threatening they are. So despite being a wizard of Harry’s considerably ability, you always feel that he is in danger. Jim Butcher does not hold back on his description of some of the violence either. There were a couple of scenes that were deliciously gruesome. If there was a small criticism it would be that I never got a sense of whether the werewolves were on two legs or four. Sometimes they would be described as being waist height and other times they were distinctly human in their behaviour. Although only a minor issue that I may have missed, it did leave me guessing and distracted me from the story.
As with all good stories, Jim Butcher does not pander to the stereotypical view of the werewolves. Jim’s werewolves transform instantaneously for example. It is nice to see and stops the supernatural element from becoming stale.
The other characters are solid without being brilliant. Harry’s interaction with the cop Murphy is probably the highlight although Tera and of course Susan are also worth a mention. They all serve their purpose, but in truth the Dresden Files are all about Harry Dresden. The books are supernatural versions of Robert Crais’ Elvis Costello series: fast, witty and just dam enjoyable.
The ending is great and moves away from the classic good guy overcoming all the odds blandness. You really get the sense that Jim Butcher enjoys writing this series. Bring on book 3.
My rating: 8.2