January 16, 2015

Review | Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Title: Cold Days
Author: Jim Butcher
Publication Date: November 2012
Publisher: Penguin
Series: The Dresden Files {Book 14}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.

He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.

Guess which Mab wants first?

Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.

Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…

His soul. 

I discovered Jim Butcher’s work about four years ago from a friend of mine. She has the library I’ve dreamed of: an entire room devoted to books. After looking around, she pulled a battered paperback copy of the first installment of The Dresden Files and I fell in love. 

I’ve missed the last few installments of Butcher’s work, but snagged up Cold Days when I saw it on the shelf. There’s a different tone to Butcher’s work now; instead of the snappy, quick dialogue and set mystery to solve, Dresden faces a mix of threatening emotions, dangerous family dysfunction, sneaky faeries and a mortal world in peril. It took me a bit to adjust to this darker, more emotionally-driven storytelling, but as Harry’s position in Mab’s Winter faerie world grew more unstable, it suited the story more and more. 

Don’t get me wrong: there’s still that snappy dialogue, the fast-paced fight scenes and the heavy sarcasm in Harry’s voice, but they don’t feature as prominently in Cold Days as they have in the past. Healing in Mab’s Arctis Tor has changed Harry’s perspective dramatically. 

I enjoyed the creativity of Cold Days, especially the creation of the Redcap; characters like him added a little extra comedy and flair to lighten up moments of a dark story. I loved the exploration of the Faerie Queens’ family, the dysfunction, the roles they play, and the true nature they hide beneath. Butcher explores past characters and bring Harry’s own actions back to haunt him, making the plot come alive as well as connect back to the past books. 

However, there were times that I felt the pacing drop off. Granted, in 515 pages, there’s bound to be a few slow spots, and I felt my eyes drooping down as I read this at night. I missed the quick pace of the previous books, but with all that Harry’s been through, a slowdown might have been necessary. 

Posted January 16, 2015 by Ellen in the canon talks, Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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