Small Favour by Jim Butcher

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Small Favour by Jim Butcher

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Natalie Baker
Reviewed by Natalie Baker
Summary: Harry Dresden, wizard, dices with supernatural forces in Chicago. The tenth book in the series, the author continues to roll out a winning formula in a fast-paced action-packed fantastic crime noir.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: April 2008
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841496962

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Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, is, as usual, not getting much of the quiet life. A large building in downtown Chicago has been blown up by some amazingly strong magical force, causing the police to call him in on an ad-hoc basis, but more fundamentally, he's being attacked – by creatures that look remarkably like the billy goats gruff? And, as usual, several people (okay, not all of them could be classified as people) want things from him – his cooperation, for example, or his life. Not much of a choice, really.

The myriad people in Harry's world are again out in full force in this latest novel in the successful Dresden Files series. I've only read one previous book in the series, but even this is enough to make me feel at home with the characters (even if I'm still somewhat confused about what some of them actually do) and eager to find out how they're all getting on. Butcher has a knack of managing to recap events in a succinct manner that refreshes previous readers' memories as well as filling in the basic background for newcomers to the series.

All the usual elements are there: the complex world of faerie, with the summer and winter courts, the knights templar, the pixies, the werewolves and vampires and just about any and every kind of magical creature you may care to think up, including Bob the skull who's on a Pirates of the Caribbean kick this time around. There's Harry's constant smart-arse comments which help to mitigate much of the matter-of-fact violence that permeates so many scenes, and the awkward is-it-isn't-it romance between Harry and the cop from Special Investigations. And there's also the Star Wars references – along with many other pop culture asides ('Stop! Occam time!' sent me giggling, along with several others).

Jim Butcher is doing nothing new in this novel, and after a previous nine books, clearly feels if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Nor does he need to. There's no sign of him becoming tired. While there's plenty of clichés in this book – both of the magical and crime variety, not to mention the at times terrible prose (although to be fair at times it's also very good) – it is, quite simply, a page-turner. The more I read about Harry, the more I like him. The plots aren't repetitive and the character relationships grow increasingly complex as the series progress, keeping it as dynamic as the magic, which is as real and tangible a force as anything else: the sensations described in the force and energy expended by magic serve to make it some of the most realistic descriptions

There's a few too many repetitious spells in Latin or something Italian-like by turns (however did magicians cope before Latin came along?), and there's a few too many guns in the magical world, and there really is a lot of gore, but this is more than made up for by the sheer inventiveness of the world that Butcher has created which slots in so neatly with our own. This is seriously good urban fantasy, and this book certainly delivers.

Adults who enjoyed Harry Potter and need a magical fix should find much to like in the far more adult world of Harry Dresden, and anyone who likes a good crime-busting novel and doesn't mind the concept of the highly inventive supernatural all over the place should certainly give this series a go. Diving in this late in the series is perhaps not the best place to start, but for anyone who's read any of the other books, this one's just as good as the rest. High standards maintained, and a cracking good read.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Previous books in the series include White Night and Proven Guilty. You might enjoy Hallow Point by Ari Marmell.

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files in Chronological Order

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