Narrator: James Marsters
Series: The Dresden Files #1
Published by Roc on April 1, 2000
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Length: 8 hours 1 minute
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.
There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.
Magic. It can get a guy killed.
My Initial Reaction…
Storm Front was a little different from my typical selections and, while I ultimately enjoyed it, I’m in no rush to read the next one.
I think James Marsters was the #1 reason I chose to listen to Storm Front and while his reading wasn’t bad, I think I was disappointed. See, I’m a total Buffy fan girl and Spike is probably my favorite character – well favorite male character at least. So when I saw James Marsters I was ready for Spike. But there was no English accent, because the role didn’t call for it. So to be fair to Marsters, I think my fangirl fantasies got in the way here. However, I have to say that I never really left the feeling that he was reading a book to me. With the really great narrators I forget I’m listening to them read a book and feel the characters, but there was something about the way he spoke and the breathy quality to some of his reading that felt just like that – reading. Ultimately I think I give the narration 3 stars.
Maybe it was because the reading was by James Marsters but I found myself frequently comparing this to the early seasons of the Angel TV series – instead of a brooding vampire you’ve got a grumpy, brooding wizard named Harry Dresden. He, like Angel, has a paranormal detective agency (run solo) and works with the Chicago (rather than LA) police force, particularly with a female detective, strong but fighting for respect among her male-peers (and her work with the supernatural isn’t helping her – much like Kate from the Angel series).
Associations aside, I have a like-hate relationship with Harry. He’s really grumpy and whinny, which can get really annoying. He does have some moments where that turns into a kind of dry, sarcastic humor that I really appreciate. But then there’s the moments where he feels like a sexist and it gets under my skin. He says he has old fashioned ideals and I guess that’s supposed to make him gentlemanly. There’s times where it makes me want to slap him and times where it seems just that – old fashioned. So, like I said Harry is and I have a like-hate relationship right now.
The women in Storm Front are all seen through Harry’s eyes and, considering his sexist (old fashioned?) view of women I’m not loving any of them too much either. The strong women are frustrating and too career driven; most the other women are weak or in prostitution. As love interests, I found their interactions with Harry underwhelming and sometimes frustrating. I think this might be why I rarely read books by male authors.
The only character I truly loved with Bob the skull (yep – I said skull), who works as Harry’s lab assistant. He’s hilarious and really cuts through the tension that Harry seems to radiate from beginning to end. I wish he as in the book more, but I’m sure we can expect more from him in later books.
I’m typically a character driven reader, but with Storm Front it’s really the story that kept me reading. Harry takes on two cases as Storm Front opens – one for the Chicago police involving two lovers killed quite gruesomely in the act and obviously by supernatural means. The other by a nervous house-wife whose husband has gone missing. As Harry works to solve these two cases, he has to deal with several people who aren’t so happy with his research into the police case, a sexy reporter who is way over her head, and the White Council who thinks he’s the murderer.
The magical world that Butcher is building with this first book is one I think I could really enjoy. It’s still being built up, but the White Council and the way magic works in this world seem complex and like they could lead to some really interesting future books. I was a bit disappointed by the mystery of this first book, there were a couple of surprising twists but it was mostly easy to figure out. The best moments were the action; the moments when Harry uses his magic and gets into battles are truly the shinning moments of Storm Front for me. The magic is really exciting, Harry’s clearly powerful and Bob’s “assistance” can make for some truly comical twists to even the most intense moments.
If you like the detective crime shows like Law and Order you may love this series, but they’ve never been my cup of tea. I won’t dismiss the series altogether since I see some real potential in the world building, but it’ll be a while before I jump into the next book.