Audio Review | Storm Front by Jim Butcher

September 9, 2013 Reviews 17

Audio Review | Storm Front by Jim ButcherStorm Front by Jim Butcher
Narrator: James Marsters
Series: The Dresden Files #1
Published by Roc on April 1, 2000
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 332
Length: 8 hours 1 minute
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased

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.

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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.

The Narration…
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.

The Characters…
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.

The Story…
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. 

Concluding Sentiments…
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.

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About Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher is the author of the Dresden Files, the Codex Alera, and a new steampunk series, the Cinder Spires. His resume includes a laundry list of skills which were useful a couple of centuries ago, and he plays guitar quite badly. An avid gamer, he plays tabletop games in varying systems, a variety of video games on PC and console, and LARPs whenever he can make time for it. Jim currently resides mostly inside his own head, but his head can generally be found in his home town of Independence, Missouri.

Jim goes by the moniker Longshot in a number of online locales. He came by this name in the early 1990′s when he decided he would become a published author. Usually only 3 in 1000 who make such an attempt actually manage to become published; of those, only 1 in 10 make enough money to call it a living. The sale of a second series was the breakthrough that let him beat the long odds against attaining a career as a novelist.

All the same, he refuses to change his nickname.


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About Berls
Berls has been a book lover her whole life. She reads pretty much every genre and is currently working hard at making her childhood dream of becoming an author come true. She loves sharing her thoughts about books, blogging, and just random fun stuff. She's a challenge and read-a-thon junkie, so it's no wonder that she loves co-hosting the COYER reading challenge. Leave a comment, Berls is always happy to chat!

17 Responses to “Audio Review | Storm Front by Jim Butcher”

    • Berls

      Hmmm good to know. I’ve decided that I’ll definitely try book 2, hopefully I’ll like it more. If not, I don’t know if I’ll be able to push through three books of just ok.

    • Berls

      Bob the skull is absolutely the best part of the book. He made me laugh so hard, he was a great balance to the grumpy Harry. I’m hoping I’ll enjoy the next one better, especially best on some of the comments here I think there’s hope! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  1. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    Harry actually becomes less sexist during the series, and the female characters will be more developed as well. Even the ones who are in this first book will see some changes, and Harry, albeit old-fashioned, at least does respect women (maybe not as much in the first book? it’s been a very long time since I read this).

    I think audio books can be tricky. And I really hope you’ll enjoy Fool Moon and the next books more than you did Storm Front. The Dresden Files is one of my favorite series, and I love to have a male MC written by a man. Most of my other series have female MCs and are written by women.

    Great review, Berls.
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    • Berls

      I’m so glad to hear that Harry will be less sexist! In the first book he seemed to walk a fine line between sexist and old-fashioned respect, so I could really see it going either way in future books. I’m still so surprised that James Marsters didn’t knock my socks off (I wanted to love him so much!) but I hope that Fool Moon will be better, since I won’t listen to it. Thanks so much! Y’all are giving me hope for this series!

  2. Jenna

    I listened to this a long, long time ago, but not when it was first released. I had tried to read the books but I just couldn’t get into them so I turned to audio. I thought the narration was great though. I reallye liked Marsters, even though he sounded nothing like Spike.

    I know what you mean about Harry. I kind of don’t like him! I think that’s what eventually led to me dropping the series, but I did make it though five or six more before that happened.

    Unlike your other commenters, I did not like the show at all.
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    • Berls

      Hmm that’s interesting – you didn’t like the show but you did like the audio and couldn’t get into the reading. Seems this may be a book that has very varied reactions! I’m not sure if I was being too hard on the narration because I wanted Spike or if I really just didn’t like Marsters. I’ve been thinking that when I pick up the series again I’ll try just reading it to see if that changes my opinion at all. But if Harry doesn’t change a bit I have a feeling the series will never grow into a favorite :/

  3. JoanneMarie

    I discovered the Harry Dresden books through the SyFy series, The Dresden Files, which I really enjoyed. Although, I’m pretty sure if Spike were reading me a story, I’d definitely be pleased.

    I read a few of these books, in the hopes I’d enjoy them as much as the tv series (I know, a total reversal from the norm) and I just never could. I came away with the conclusion that, while I do kind of like Harry Dresden, I’m pretty sure I don’t really care for Jim Butcher.
    JoanneMarie recently posted…SpeakMy Profile

    • Berls

      I keep hearing really good things about the tv series, so maybe this is one of those anomalies where the books actually aren’t as good as the show/movie? I have heard good things about the series too though, so I’m willing to give it another chance – but I think it just may not be my style. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

    • Berls

      So maybe the reading contributed more than I realized to my not liking it too much. I’ve heard really good things about the series, so I was surprised that I didn’t love it. Maybe when I give it another shot I’ll go without the audio.

        • Berls

          I will try it! Having you (& your kids) confirm what I was thinking might have been just overly high expectations makes me think I should definitely give the series another shot 🙂

  4. Laureen

    I watched the TV show and loved it (I know, I know, it’s not the same thing!) but I have yet to read any of the series. I think I would have been disappointed at the lack of accent as well. Which is disappointing, really. I may eventually need to actually read the series! Thanks for sharing.
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    • Berls

      I’ve heard a lot of good things about the tv show (I never saw it) and I’ve also heard a lot of good things about this series. Maybe it’s just me and maybe it was the narration. I’m still thinking I’ll give it another go, just maybe reading it instead of listening.

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