Review of COLD DAYS by Jim Butcher

I love the Dresden Files. I love Harry Dresden’s first-person point of view,the cast of characters Jim Butcher has surrounded Dresden with, the corny, totally nerdy jokes,the breakneck noir plot lines and the fact that this is the 14th book in the series and it’s still the book I look forward to most every year.

GHOST STORY, the previous book, was good but not great. Dresden walking around as a ghost took away some of the series’ top strengths — his interplay with his friends — but COLD DAYS returned the series to its roots, with Dresden reconnecting with some of his friends and reacquainting us to the politics between Winter and Summer with a totally different kind of confrontation this time around.

In both of Jim Butcher’s series, this and CODEX ALERA, I’ve noticed that his writing and storytelling get stronger as the series progresses, as though he’s growing more comfortable with the characters and the story he wants to tell. With almost every book, he finds a way to change the game, to heighten the stakes while continuing to mix in enough humor to make the books light, quick reading. In GHOST STORY, Butcher upped the stakes by turning Dresden into the Winter Knight, and in this book he deals with the very first ramifications of that decision. COLD DAYS changes the game again in an intriguing way and includes an ending that makes me sad and yet still makes me look forward to the 16th book.

By now, the cast of characters has grown large, but I found in reading this book that I remember them all (which says something about Butcher’s ability to create interesting, memorable characters), and I was interested to see how Butcher reintroduced Dresden to his old friends and how quickly everyone responded to having him back in the world of the living.

I read this book in four days as a bit of a break from THE WHEEL OF TIME, and it was refreshing to read a book with a protagonist who told jokes, with a plot that moved forward with every page and a read that was just good old-fashioned fun. I’m enjoying THE WHEEL OF TIME, but COLD DAYS was a great change of pace that made me appreciate even more what Jim Butcher does so well — tell fast-paced stories with funny, interesting characters in a world that continues to grow more complex and interesting with each chapter. I know these books are best sellers, but I can’t help but feel as though the Dresden Files books are underrated — that people really don’t understand just how good these books truly are.

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