Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Posted August 13, 2014 by Jessica in Jessica, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 103 Comments

Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #1
Published by Roc
Published on: April 1 2000
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 332
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
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HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment. 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 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.

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Lover of Urban Fantasy that I am, it may come as a surprise that before now . . . I have never actually . . . read Jim Butcher . . .

I KNOW. I’m such a poser.

In my defense, I haven’t had much luck with male authors in the genre, and come on . . . we’re up to what? FIFTEEN installments, with the SIXTEENTH already in the works, so yeah—DAUNTING. Cut me some slack.  And besides, better late than never, right?

Also, I’m holding all of you partially to blame, b/c someone should have told me that around book 3 or 4 the series becomes seriously FAE oriented. So what’s up with that, huh? I’ve said more than once that Fae are my FAEvorite, and based on the PUNS in Storm Front alone, I’m the one who should be feeling betrayed, not you.

*snickers*

Okay. I have adequately blame-shifted, so moving on.

I knew going into this that I’d be entering a longterm relationship with Harry Dresden. I was willing, but skeptical. Even with the image of Paul Blackthorne firmly planted in my subconscious, I knew from experience that commitment requires more than a pretty face.

Little did I know how right I was.

You see . . . longterm relationships are WORK. And often, the things you love the most about another person are the same things that enable that person to drive you NUTS.

I love how realistically flawed Harry is.

I hate how realistically flawed Harry is.

He gets himself into a tight spot, so he rationalizes:

“It wasn’t as though I was actually going to be doing any black magic, I told myself. I was just going to be figuring out how it was done. There was a difference. I was helping the police in an investigation, nothing more.”

But then he immediately calls his own bluff:

“Yeah, right. And maybe one of these days I’d go to an art museum and become well rounded.”

He’s also incredibly self-aware. He knows his weaknesses as well as his strengths, and he presents both sides very matter-of-factly. It was refreshing. There was no false modesty or self-deprecation. No melancholy search for affirmation. Harry Dresden just lays it all out in plain site, do with it what you will.

But that same openness allows you to see (over and over again) how hapless he is when it comes to the fairer sex . . .

You know . . . for a self-proclaimed, socially awkward wizard with very little relationship experience, Harry Dresden finds himself surrounded by beautiful, flirtatious women with uncommon frequency . . . *rolls eyes*

But then he gleefully reveals his boyish, mischievous side by the sheer delight he takes at pulling one over on someone who has underestimated him. *rolls eyes again, but this time while grinning*

One second I wanted to smack him on the back of the head, and the next, I wanted to ruffle his hair and kiss him on the cheek.

So that’s Harry.

There’s also Bob the (peeping) Skull, Toot the pizza-loving faery, Mister the cat, Mac the surly pubkeep, Murphy the hard case female cop, and glimpses into possible future interactions with a literal faery godmother and the mysteriously intimidating White Council.

The plot was . . . eh . . . *shrugs* I’m giving it a pass this time, b/c I’m pretty sure a lot of groundwork was laid for future installments, and while this was a fairly entertaining read, it was also fairly predictable, and Bad Guy was just a stock power hungry Bad Guy.

On the world-building front, we were given a lot of hints, but nothing substantial, but that was okay, b/c so far, we’ve only been in the real world, so as much as I’d like to know more about the Nevernever (RIGHT NOW), there’s plenty of time for that when we get there.

Overall, I definitely see this series being worth it (and not just b/c if I read this one, I will have read every, single one of the Big Deal UF series . . . which may or may not be a personal goal . . . *shrugs noncommittally*). Harry Dresden is a realistically likable character who I have a suspicion will turn out to be quite formidable, and Butcher lays a promising foundation with this first installment. Will it live up to my expectations? Only one way to find out . . .

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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.

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103 responses to “Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

  1. I’ve had this on my TBR list forever and you cannot imagine how excited your review has gotten me. I am pretty sure I am going to feel exactly the same about Harry and I am starting to really look forward to meeting him in all of his awkward glory. Plus self-conscious characters are a lot funner to read about in general since they realize when their being annoying 😀

    I am so glad to see you enjoyed this.. although admittedly.. I am a little intimidated now seeing that.. there are already 15 instalments and even more in the works! *hides*

    Lovely review, Jess!!! 🙂
    Rashika recently posted…ARC Review + PH Giveaway: Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

    • AWKWARD. Awkward is a perfect word for Harry, LOL, and yes, he is fairly self-aware.

      And I totally get you. This series has been on my TBR forever too, but it wasn’t until the first 6 books went on sale for $2 each, AND someone let the Fae out of the bag that I finally read it. I have high hopes for it though 😉

      Thanks, dollface! MUAH!

  2. I read book one years ago, but never went back. I don’t know why, I think I remembered liking it. I’ve heard good things about the audiobook (Spike from Buffy is the narrator), so I think I’m going to give them a try soon. Also, my library has them, so FREE! Great review. You have pushed it even higher on the list and good to know I’m not the only one who hasn’t read this series. 🙂
    Melanie Simmons recently posted…Dark Skye Audiobook by Kresley Cole (Review)

    • I KNOW! But I was horribly disappointed to find out awhile ago that he’s from CALIFORNIA. I don’t know what I’d think about his voice without the British accent, LOL. You’ll have to let me know, and no, you’re not the only one 😉

  3. Haven’t read this series in awhile, I think I got up to book 5 or 6. You’re right it starts going more fae right around there. Hope you enjoy the rest of the series, you reminded me I need to start it up again 🙂

    • I’ve committed myself to the first five, and I have several more than that, so it’s looking to be quite the binge. And you know how I feel about Charlaine Harris and mysteries 😉

  4. Great review, Jessica! I haven’t read this series either despite owning Storm Front. I think maybe I was apprehensive over a male author and I was just getting into UF at the time. I know readers love this series but I was happy to see you lay it all out like you did. 😉 I’m glad you’ve found a new series to enjoy and that’ll eventually have fae. 🙂

  5. This review absolutely makes me happy. I have read up to the second Dresden Files (still reading the third but on hold until my annoyance with Susan fades away… Haha) It was exactly how flawed Harry was that made me attracted to this book. But yes, at the same time, I hated them too because ughhh I totally want Harry to succeed and it pained me to see him keep getting his butt kicked! But hey, at least he’s not a Gary Stu of sorts. Haha.
    Faye recently posted…ARC Review + PH Giveaway: Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

  6. I’ve been getting through this series very slowly (only just finished book 4) because I insist on the audiobooks. The narration is amazing, and is so totally Harry. I love Harry, he’s such a comfortable character. From the very first book I felt like I knew him, and it’s just a lot of fun to read his stories.
    Sarah recently posted…Review: Across the Universe

  7. “You know . . . for an self-proclaimed, socially awkward wizard with very little relationship experience, Harry Dresden finds himself surrounded by beautiful, flirtatious women with uncommon frequency . . . *rolls eyes*”

    Isn’t that how it always happens Jessica?! I’m socially awkward and I find my life is strangely missing a bevy of men interested in me. WTH? I mean there’s my husband of course, but he doesn’t count. Where are the Barrons of the world I ask you? I’M FUN JESSICA! *sigh* Glad your first experience with Harry was a good one, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the rest of the series when you get to them!

    • LOL. Seriously. You can have Barrons, I’ll take Clay. Except . . . where in the bloody heck are they?? And I’m looking forward to learning more about Harry, myself, so that works out 😉

  8. Mogsy from BiblioSanctum  

    Yeah, color me shocked that you haven’t read Jim Butcher! And yep, fifteen books out at the time of this writing, daunting is right! That’s pretty much how I feel about all these series I need to catch up with 😉 But you’re right about a lot of groundwork being laid here, the later books get better and more crazy and I really do hope you’ll stick around til we get to the Fae because they become a HUGE part of the series!
    Mogsy recently posted…Novella Review: John Golden: Heroes of Mazaroth by Django Wexler

  9. I’ve been meaning to start this series. I got the first 3 as a gift several years back and they are still in shrink wrap lol. Ok so this being the first in a series I guess is acceptable for it to be a so-so plot, but the rest of the series I keep hearing is awesome.

    • I keep hearing that too. It’s another one of those, “the series get OMG AMAZING at book 3” series, LOL. The only reasons, I’m finally reading them are, 1. FAE, and 2. Butcher just got added to the Dragon Con guest list 😉

  10. This is the only one I’ve read so far. I liked it but it was a little slow. I
    m sure it gets better with each book though. Like you said – they have to lay out the groundwork.

  11. You are going to LOVE how much FAE gets into your and Harry’s life come the later books. If that is what wets your whistle. Yes the first few take time to really gear you up for loving the series but I find that is always the case with me and urban fantasies. Usually the first one or two are just 3 or 4 stars but usually around 3.5 stars and then they get successively better as the series solidifies. I’m so excited you finally gave this one a try. I swooms for Harry haha.
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

    • Fae are what whets my whistle, so I hope you’re right, and that’s usually the case with me as well. With the exception of Kelley Armstrong’s BITTEN and Faith Hunter’s SKINWALKER, it’s always taken me several books to get into a series.

  12. Well, I’m not entirely sure if I’m gonna start reading this series, even less since the first one was good but not that awesome… I have too many pending to read books to start a new series that will start slow…
    Great review, Jessica!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #55!!

    • I get you. What finally pushed me over the edge is that the author is going to be at this big Con I’m going to at the end of the month. Otherwise, who know how long it would have taken me 😉 Thanks, Pili!

  13. This is a really great series. The books get better and better and the world building becomes more complex. Jim Butcher excels at actions scenes, and he definitely has an endgame.

  14. Berls from Fantasy is More  

    I read the first one in this series over a year ago and just haven’t had the desire to get back to it, considering all the other books I want to read. I remember feeling so frustrated with the way Harry looked at women and having a love-hate relationship with Harry (very similar to the one you describe). But I also remember liking the story pretty well and seeing the groundwork for a good world. Now, that being said, NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT THE FAE! I read that in your review and I think my jaw came close to hitting the ground. You’ve got to be kidding me! How did I not know that? I mean, yes, there was the one faery but that didn’t really lead me to believe that they would become central. GEez, now I have to rethink my desire to get to the series sooner than later.
    Berls recently posted…Blood Games by Chloe Neill | Audio Review

    • That’s pretty much how I’ve felt since I first found out about this series . . . and you know what? The longer I waited, the more books there were, LOL . . . funny how that works 😉

  15. Great review! I’ve seen this one around but haven’t read it. Not sure if I’m ready for a 15 book series, LOL!! I stopped reading the Sookie Stackhouse series somewhere around the 7th or 8th book — just got burned out. Thanks for sharing though!

  16. Mary from BookSwarm  

    POSER!! I’m totally calling you out. Heh. And I know what you mean about Harry. He’s so realistically flawed — and it’s both his greatest asset and weakness. But, yeah, it’s INCREDIBLY involved in the Fae world now (I’m caught up and waiting for the next installment)…Mab is a total badass.
    Mary recently posted…I Gotta Ask: Why Comment?

    • He’s like a male version of Rachel Morgan. She drives me nuts too, but the plot and relationships make it all worthwhile. I’m hoping the same is true here. LOOKING FORWARD TO IT.

    • Thanks, Sarah! I’ve heard that Butcher had already written the first three books when he got signed, and that’s why the first two aren’t as good—less editing, so I’m at least holding on that long. Even without great editing, the book was still pretty good, so I’m not worried.

  17. Okay, so. I am naturally suspicious of UF written by men as well, so your saying that you really enjoyed this makes me very excited! I’ve heard good things about this author/series, but it’s never been from this perspective before, so thank you. I think, I mean, I have a ton to read already. *glares*
    Wendy Darling recently posted…The Giver: film review

  18. Now you see how I feel about all amazing UF series you like to remind me of and show me that I fail so much. But then again I’m reading Kate Daniels series, which should make you happy. Regardless of that, this cover is really creepy but I’m really curious about Jim’s stories as I haven’t heard of him (shocking, yup). This one might not be perfect, but I’m sure it’ll get better and I cannot wait to see what you think of the rest. Great review, Jessica 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Blog Tour: Storms of Lazarus by Karen Kincy

  19. Chanzie from Mean Who You  

    I will be honest… at this point super long series like this do scare me off… that long term commitment phobia kicking in. even if I know I might love it in the end!!Love your reviews as always 🙂
    Chanzie recently posted…August MWYA Buzz

  20. I read this one a while ago with the French released but I wasn’t that impressed ans was a little disappointed in fact. It’s not bad but I wanted something more. Someone told me that the others are better so I should try to see if it’s the case.

  21. One time, back when we lived in an itty bitty apartment, I saw a box of books listed on freecycle. I was all over it and luckily was the first to respond. They said it would be by the curb. I went to pick up this ‘box’ of books and it was a REFRIGERATOR box of books!!!! Umm… a warning might have been nice because there was NO WAY that box could come close to fitting in my car (if I’d had a forklift to lift it in). So I had to empty the box into my car. It filled my trunk completely and there were still books so I had to unload into my backseat too. And THEN I had to somehow get all those books into my tiny apartment on the second level. What first started out as good (and then amazing, cause duh, BOOKS!) quickly became a giant ordeal. Not to mention the look on my husbands face when he got home and saw piles of books stacked EVERYWHERE. And then I asked if he would haul up the rest (the trunk hadn’t even been started on yet!). So yeah… fond memory. Learned my lesson there. Boxes come in all sizes. So what’s my point here? Well… it had complete series of a lot of UF series and this was one of them. So I have the books up until about 6 years ago. So a good start. I actually have a good start for a LOT of series. Luckily we moved into a house and I didn’t have to get rid of all the books, but it was mostly just UF ones that I kept since there were some mystery, some horror and some romance.
    Anyway, this is one series I’m really wanting to fit in soon, I think I’ll enjoy it a lot.
    Candace recently posted…Book Review: Neurotica by Eliza Gordon

    • WOW. Yeah, I could see how that would be inconvenient, LOL, but overall, how awesome was that? Seriously—JACKPOT.

      And I hope you do like it. I can’t speak for the long term, but I definitely think it’s off to a good start 😉

  22. Michele from A Belle's Tales  

    Yes! This is perfect timing! I grabbed this one when it was on sale, and then I got the audio even thought I DESPISE audios because it was narrated by James Marsters — and if ever there was an audio I could listen to, it would be one narrated by Spike from BtVS!!! Yeah, I still couldn’t. But now I’m definitely glad I have my ebook! This many titles in a series is frightening, but I’ll tackle it. Thanks for the review!
    Michele recently posted…Steals & Deals

  23. I almost hate to admit it (so I’ll do it privately on a the internet 😉 ), but this was a DNF for me. I keep thinking I should go back and give it a second chance, but just haven’t found the desire to do so yet. The humor is what killed it for me. I kept feeling like I was reading a TV Sitcom and it just didn’t work (for me … it obviously works well for tons of people).
    Lisa recently posted…Tough Traveling – Save the World!

  24. I have the same problem with male leads. I really want to find a compelling one, though. I find they come across a bit old sounding…especially Harry ( although this series is growing on me ) Have you read the Cal Leandros series? He is about the only one who comes across as though he is his age, albeit a bit woeful. And Rob Thurman does tend to go down many tangents…I’d love to read a male pov in urban fantasy where the lead is snarky and confident and a little charming 🙂
    lorellepage recently posted…I missed middle child day? Here is my contribution…

    • “I’d love to read a male pov in urban fantasy where the lead is snarky and confident and a little charming”<------that's kind of how I felt about Harry, LOL. And I've read one of those guys---whichever one writes Tales from the Nightside, and it was okay, but kind of noir for my tastes. I liked Sandman Slim for awhile too, but I lost interest over time . . .

  25. Yeah, Harry Dresden has some serious weirdness when it comes to the fairer sex. Definitely a hero complex situation going on. Like most series, it just gets better with time: you get more secondary characters (MICHAEL!), more world building, and yes, more of the Nevernever. 😉 So glad you’re on board with this series now, Jessica! Guess this means I should get caught up before you out pace me!
    Danya recently posted…Tough Traveling: Saving the World

    • LOL. No fear of that happening anytime soon. I’m drowning in ARCs, but I am looking forward to reading more Harry. I have no idea who this Michael is, but I definitely want more of the Nevernever 😉

  26. You a Poser, Jessica – No Way! LOL. I have book one on my shelf, but like you mention the sheer number of books – fifteen is a bit daunting. BUT, I love the sound of Harry’s character, and I think the combination of wanting to smack the backside of his head, yet ruffle his hair says much about his boyish charm 🙂
    kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Blog Tour: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

    • I know. 15 is a LOT. And that it a pretty awesome cover. I hope you decide to try it sometime—just b/c there are 15 installments, doesn’t mean you have to read them all 😉 Especially if you don’t like them. Thanks, Rogier!

  27. I am currently 3/4 way through book 15! I LOVE Harry. He has his most definitely has his flaws, but he also makes me laugh, which is always a plus. Fae are huge in this series! You’ll find as you get into it more there are things you don’t like, books that drag for you, etc., but you’ll have that in any long series. Sometimes predictable, sometimes surprising (I have to say book 15 is my favorite in the series), but in my opinion it is worth it to keep on. Great review!

    • Wow, that’s really saying something—that 15 is your favorite. You’re right about long-running series having there ups and down (The Hollows, Sookie Stackhouse, Women of the Otherworld, etc.), so I’m not expecting this one to be any different, but I do LOVE the Fae, and that the series is still awesome that far in . . . highly motivating 😉

  28. “Also, I’m holding all of you partially to blame, b/c someone should have told me that around book 3 or 4 the series becomes seriously FAE oriented. So what’s up with that, huh? I’ve said more than once that Fae are my FAEvorite, and based on the PUNS in Storm Front alone, I’m the one who should be feeling betrayed, not you.” <– THIS. I read this while at work and I snorted. This should come at no shock to you but the guy across from me gave me the daily stink-eye! Hahahaha… 😉

    This is a seriously long series but…Harry might just make it worth it for me! 🙂

    Stunning review as always my friend! ♥
    Cristina recently posted…Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon

  29. Hahaha, fab review, Jessica! I stopped reading after the first 2 books because this series is sooo long, and I discovered it very late. BUT, I have a cunning plan! James Marsters aka Spike narrates all Dresden files on audio, so I’ll be listening to his yummy voice while slowly going through the rest of the series. How I see it, it’s a win-win situation! 🙂
    kara-karina recently posted…Paranormal Fantasy Joint Review: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness