Book Review: Cold Days by Jim Butcher

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Some time ago, I heard of an interesting series of books collectively known as the Dresden Files. So out of curiosity, I decided to give them a try. This review will be on the most recent book in the series that I managed to read. For the sake of anyone who reads this, this is the fourteenth book in the series. Yes, I have read the previous thirteen, which I had read prior to starting this blog. If you would like to see a review of the previous books, please let me know in the comments below, and I will consider rereading them for future reviews. Additionally, the first book is called Storm Front, if you want to start from the beginning. Last thing before I start this review, there are easily a lot of Spoilers for this book and many previous books in this series. If that is an issue, please turn back now, and read something else on my blog. You may also prefer to read the other books in this series, so that I don’t ruin too many surprises.

ColdDaysDresden
Book art for Cold Days, the fourteenth book of the Dresden Files

Now, for those unfamiliar with the Dresden Files, it takes place in modern-day Chicago, and stars the character Harry Dresden, a professional wizard who solves many supernatural crimes. A lot has happened since the first book, and this one starts with Dresden’s recovery from a near death experience, and now under the employ of the faerie queen of winter as the Winter Knight. He has new orders to take out an immortal, and in the process of looking into these orders, uncovers a plot that could devastate Chicago. He also has to struggle with how his new role may change who he is.

In the process of all these supernatural events, he even uncovers an enemy that has been pulling the strings in secret throughout the entire series. In all honesty, it is about time the author started to pull all the details together. It was infrequently hinted at in other books in the series, but there weren’t enough clues for the readers to figure out what was going on. I feel that novels with a mystery should give the reader a means to guess at the solution, plus supply the same clues and knowledge the main character has on hand. It is part of the “game” of reading such a book. Much like the previous books, the solution in this one reveals itself without enough hints to the reader, and Harry Dresden manages to reach some conclusions without showing his full thought process. This issue is compounded by the fact that Dresden narrates the series, and doesn’t always show everything he thinks or feels. The readers should know these things, and not find out entirely last second.

Another thing to consider with this book is that there were many books preceding it. It is easy to forget some details that this book refers to, and to be temporarily lost in the events that even I briefly forgot. That being said, this book does increase the stakes, and adds much more danger, desperation, and risk taking by the main hero. The action is almost non-stop, and it appears the author is starting to get into a groove here. The pace is brisk, and encourages extra reading at the end of every chapter, a trait that all the Dresden Files books seem to have, no matter how good or bad any of them are.

To appeal to his audience, Dresden makes a variety of wise cracks and pop culture references, a feature that is sometimes jarring, and sometimes hilarious. In this book in particular his attitude ends up playing well when bouncing off of his half-brother, Thomas. In fact, much of the supporting cast is more interesting than Dresden himself. It seems like they had less time to shine in this book, despite it being over 600 pages. Much of this book covers Dresden and the important characters or villains most relevant to this story. The cast is still there, but they aren’t as prevalent in this book.

Now I will cover some pro’s and con’s of this book. Keep in mind that much of the Dresden Files series has these traits as well.

Pro’s:

  • A good blend of humor, detective work, and magical action.
  • Excellent pacing, this book encourages one more chapter at then end of the previous one.
  • A convincing world of magic, drawn from real world fables and superstitions.
  • The stakes are raised, and the series seems to be coming to some sort of clean conclusion.
  • More of the previous books are connected in this one, adding to its value.
  • More of the events are being shown, not told, than other books in the series.

Con’s:

  • There is still slightly more tell than show in inappropriate parts of the book, particularly when conclusions and solutions are drawn.
  • It is still hard for the reader to figure out the solutions, a downside to a detective style novel.
  • Supporting cast is (personally) more interesting to me than the main character.
  • Supporting cast has less time to shine in this book.
  • Some details from previous books are lost in the length of the series.

So what is the verdict?

7.5/10 Good, but needs some work to really shine.

This was a tough one to give a hard number for. There’s still some things about the series that I can’t fully explain, but don’t quite like. If I figure it out, I will be sure to mention them in future reviews of the previous books.


And those are my thoughts on Cold Days of the Dresden Files. I hope this review helps you to decide if you want to read this book or others in this series. What did you think of this book? How about the other books in the series? Would you like to have me review more of the series? Let me know why in the comments below!

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