Cold Days by Jim Butcher

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Cold Days by Jim Butcher

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Wizard/detective/Winter Knight Harry Dresden is back for the 14th time, alive and kicking posterior, again adrenalising film noir with a huge jab of urban fantasy. Butcher at his best; enough said?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 528 Date: November 2012
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0356500898

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Happy birthday Harry Dresden! And what a birthday as life becomes a little hectic for the Winter Court Knight. He returns to life in time to fight in the Winter Palace, have a near death experience at the hands of dark, mini-people, then is nearly killed again (by a friend this time) and his island of Demonreach is about to explode taking a chunk of the USA with it. He therefore has 24 hours to save some world. Oh, and you know those headaches he's been having? HIs head is on the verge of exploding too. Indeed, it's the sort of birthday that it's hardly worth reanimating for.

If you've followed Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden through the previous 13 Dresden case files rest assured this is one of the best if not the best so far. If you've never heard of him you'll need more convincing so get comfy and I'll begin.

Harry started life as a writing exercise Jim Butcher had to submit for a course in 1996 and from there he grew and grew. The style is first person Raymond Chandleresque PI film noir blended with urban fantasy. The language isn't deeply literary but it's fast moving, wise-cracking excitement in a well created world lurking beneath the veneer of Butcher's real-world home town of Chicago. It's not just the author's home town that's featured; he is known for paying homage to his influences, e.g. Terry Pratchett, CS Lewis, Star Wars and Queen to name but a few.

Harry is self-deprecatingly funny, dry and lives in a 'Dresdenverse' that's ethereal but feels anchored in logic. For instance there are fairies (or rather 'faeries') but drop any idea of Enid Blyton. These fae aren't at all fey. Although unable to lie, the fae of the Winter Sidhe are street-wise, devious and downright fatal. For instance one adversary, Redcap, colours his headwear with the blood of his kills.

What's the Winter Sidhe? Think chess: the folk of the Winter Court are cold and unprovocatively nasty. Whereas the fae from the Summer Sidhe are warmth and light-driven though not averse to a bit of smiting. Now you understand why Harry doesn't enjoy being the Winter Court's hit-man, but he has little choice. Other monsters do exist and in Cold Days the naagloshii are back.

Dresden jumps from various fires into various frying pans as a hero jumps crocodile noses in an action film. We're not always given time to breathe before the next twist hits. The shocks are plentiful. We know Dresden will live (24 books promised!) but each companion is fair game as fans have witnessed in the past, the most shocking sidekick murder being one that Dresden was forced to commit himself. Even the allies who survive Cold Days will never be the same again. In fact all the characters develop even skull-dwelling elemental spirit and porn-addict Bob moves on – he discovers the internet.

If Dresden is new to you buy this and put it in a drawer until you've read some of the others. It does work as a stand-alone, but we've been brought to this stage by such a rich story tapestry that you'll kick yourself for missing it. If you're a Dresden fan, you aren't here anymore, are you? You're already queuing at the bookshop. I don't know… sometimes I feel as if I'm just talking to myself…

A special thank you to Orbit for sending us a copy of this book for review.

If you're new to Harry Dresden, pick a book. If you're already a convert, you may enjoy Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus series, an excellent British equivalent. (The first book is good for background but it flies from the second volume onwards.)

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files in Chronological Order

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