I’m a fan of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer ” like small children are fans of candy. I credit Buffy with getting me hooked on the Horror-Fantasy genre. As for many Buffy devotees, my favorite character in the series is Spike, played by the handsome James Marsters. When I learned that Marsters was involved with Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, a series that revolves around a modern day wizard in Chicago, I jumped on these books like Harry Potter jumps to conclusions before he has all the facts.
Marsters is the reader for most of the audiobook versions of The Dresden Files, and he is the perfect narrator to play Harry Dresden, a private eye solving all manner of supernatural crimes and battling a variety of fantastical creatures. Marsters’ voice is gruff, sarcastic and appropriately self-deprecating to allow for humor without humiliation. Harry is down-to-earth and a well-rounded character.
Newcomers to this series should be aware of one major pitfall, however, which I personally find very distracting: its women. It seems that most of the women are sexualized, vapid or motherly. The only woman that comes close to being strong and independent is Murphy, but she is described as a tiny cheerleader. This successfully undermines the reader’s ability to take her seriously. This wouldn’t bother me so much if there weren’t also tons of male characters that are tough, complex and miles more capable of handling situations than the women. In the three books that I read, only a third of the characters are women, and of those women, nearly half of them are highly sexualized.
Complaints about female characters aside, Jim Butcher is a master of plot. He obeys the writing rule that states when you drive your character up a tree, throw stones at him. The reader actually doesn’t know what will happen next or how Dresden will get out of the current jam, but when he does, the method is not only surprising but also delightfully well thought out. Butcher is a talented writer, and if you’re looking for a fantasy adventure noir-inspired novel, then the Dresden Files are for you! Start with the first in the series, “Storm Front.”