As a professional wizard, Harry Dresden knows firsthand that the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most of them don’t play well with humans. And those that do enjoy playing with humans far too much. He also knows he’s the best at what he does. Technically, he’s the only at what he does. But even though Harry is the only game in town, business—to put it mildly—stinks.
So when the Chicago P.D. bring him in to consult on a double homicide 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…
“Well?” Murphy demanded. “Are we dealing with magic here, or aren’t we?”
“Either that or it was really incredible sex,” I told her.
Where to start with this review? I have read Storm Front over half a dozen times in the years since I started reading the series. Yet I haven’t read the full series since at the latest 2013. I’m due for a reread, and this is it. It has been so long since reading this that I feel I’m almost starting clean.
If I didn’t know for a fact that Dresden Files gets better, I would not have finished reading Storm Front. And in some ways I’ve been dreading rereading the series, because I knew I would have to put up with these early books.
On the one hand, Storm Front is better than I remembered it being. The story itself isn’t too bad. Dresden takes on two cases that (as always with urban fantasy it seems) ends up being one case in the end. Dresden works with the Chicago PD as a consultant to help on crime scenes. He is called in on a grisly scene that was done by a lot of magic, and is told to solve it. He also really, really needs the money. He also takes on a private client looking for her husband, who just happens to be an aspiring wizard.
On the other hand, it was worse. Because Harry Dresden is awful. And it sucks because he really doesn’t grow that much better over the series, just tolerable. Harry Dresden is definitely the weak link in an otherwise great series. Harry is rude to people, including paying clients, and feels a sense of self righteousness when he ‘puts them in their place’ because of their wrongness. He is sexist and has a skewed, wrong sense of how bad his sexism really is. He makes inappropriate jokes at inappropriate times because he can’t read a room. He thinks because he does one good deed, it excuses everything else he does. He is unbelievably arrogant for a man having to borrow money from people and frankly isn’t all that good at what they do. And he has so many other bad traits. And some of these are written in on purpose, because Butcher wanted to write a series like one of those old Noir stories. Twenty years ago, Dresden turned people off from his own story, and it reads even worse today.
Also there is the part of the story where Dresden makes an actual love potion, that actually gets used later. “By accident.” But instead of a love potion, his slutty ass brain in a skull named Bob creates a lust potion. So someone that already likes him and is about to go on a date with him is now trying to sleep with Dresden, in the middle of a battle. Because that is an oh so great start to a relationship. Keep in mind this is about two minutes after he ran out of the shower and ends up naked in her presence before he tells her to go take a potion. Which ends up being a love potion.
Accident, my foot. I despise love potions.
Other than already mentioned parts, There are good parts and bad parts to Storm Front. For the good, it manages to set up an incredibly interesting world with infinite potential in it. Dresden has an interesting backstory that we don’t know everything about yet. People in the story already have a tendency to hate Dresden.
Also, if you read further you realize just how much of the world and story of the Dresden Files is set up in the really quick read that is Storm Front. There is one seemingly near throwaway line in particular, that if you’re reading on a reread, you will have chills run down your spine when you read it.
“Go. And do not think that I will not remember this night. Do not think that I will not make you regret it.”
For the bad, other than Dresden himself I hate the relationship he has with the cops. It is overly hostile. They tend to not believe Dresden even though they’re paying him to be a consultant. I feel like Butcher took the Noir ideas too far with the cops because honestly it just doesn’t make sense with the information we have so far.
It is also really sexual in ways that if it were in other books written by other people, I would see endless comments and complaints about how sexualized the book is, yet Dresden gets a pass on. At times it feels like everything in the book circles back to sex, and the double standard drives me mad. Dresden wants brownie points for not looking down the shirt of some girl he just met, even though he says a minute later he peeked anyway. Every girl is described by their varying features that make them cute or sexy. There is an actual sex worker (or two) in the book, which isn’t that much of a problem except for the fact that it ends up really rubbing me wrong because of the interactions. The sex worker calls Dresden a gentleman and thinks he is an awesome person for.. Frankly I don’t know why? Because Dresden needs someone to like him? I don’t know.
With Storm Front, you can see a lot of the core of why The Dresden Files is such a fan favourite. Both the story and the world show signs of being amazing, and just need time to get them drawn out of their shells. The only downside is Dresden himself, who is a loser and the series would be better without him. If you can look past Dresden for two short, quick books until he calms down a little bit and the story outshines him, and you like the rest of the book, you’ll love the series.