Chicago’s only wizard-for-hire in the phone book is starting to get steady business, making it the first time Harry Dresden is not struggling to pay his rent. During an appearance on a television panel to debate supernatural occurrences, Harry is hired by a Vatican priest to find the stolen Shroud of Turin and challenged to a duel by a disguised Red Court Vampire champion. If that’s not enough, Harry’s half-vampire ex-lover Susan Rodriguez shows up with a new man and Harry is attacked by a Denarian (a sort of fallen angel) and his best friend Michael of the Knights of the Cross has to save him.
The Dresden files has moved up from enjoyable kitchy cheese to very well done fantasy popcorn adventure in this fifth installment of the series. Each storyline is inventive and fun, and they converge together with action and adventure to spare.
The cast of supernatural factions is growing, but their strong characterization enhances the world-building instead of fluffing it up with extraneous filler. Harry is a member of The White Counsel (Wizards) who are current at war with the Red Court (Vampires), whereas the White Court and Jade Court (more Vampires) are genetically and geographically distinct. The Knights of the Cross are a group of Christian soldiers who fight on the side of the light, which almost always coincides with the side Harry is on (although Harry doesn’t mind breaking a few extra bones for revenge). Death Masks introduces the Denarians and the Archive, a powerful, neutral magical construct and repository of all human knowledge, currently located in a young girl who likes petting Mister the cat.
My sympathy for Harry has grown. He’s relatable because his magical powers are very grounded if not explained, he gets hurt a lot, and he’s not very good with the ladies. Harry cracks plenty jokes, even during climatic tension-filled moments, so that the tone is almost always light and fun and adventurous instead of dark and grim.
Recommended as fast-paced guilty pleasure reading that’s also imaginative! The Dresden series is so much fun!
“It came charging toward me, several hundred pounds of angry-looking monster, and I did the only thing any reasonable wizard could have done.
I turned around and ran like hell.”