Narrator: James Marsters
Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing (2009)
Length: 11 hours 12 minutes
Series: Book 4 The Dresden Files
Note: Even though this is Book 4 in the series, it works mostly OK as a stand alone. There is a significant spoiler for Book 3 (Grave Peril) that is referred to in this book, but if you don’t mind that, then it works fine as a stand alone.
Things continue to intensify for the only phone book listed wizard PI in Chicago, Harry Dresden. After the events of Book 3, Harry has been in a slump. His girlfriend had to leave him and he is guilt-ridden over the reasons why. He’s not taking cases and, quite frankly, not showering often enough. He’s also not paying rent and you can forget about food shopping. However, he does still have friends and one of those friends, Billy the college student werewolf, makes sure he makes it to an appointment on time that could lead to a paying PI case.
This episode in Harry’s life explores the world of the Fae. There’s the Summer Court and the Winter Court and each court has three queens, denoting the rise, peak, and fall of each of the two main seasons. Someone has killed the Winter Knight, a champion of the Winter court who is given great powers to carry out his tasks. Now, Harry has been hired, or rather compelled, to find out who and why. We briefly met Harry’s fairy godmother in the last book and Harry fears few others like he fears her. So I was very interested to see how the other Fae compared the first time I read this book. My enjoyment of the book has not diminished with time. Harry is in for a wild ride!
In the previous books, Harry has briefly mentioned his first girlfriend Elaine. Now, Elaine’s character gets filled out and Harry has to deal with yet more emotions. Plus he has to save the world. I think for Harry, saving the world is easier on him than dealing with emotions. The Fae courts have set Harry and Elaine at odds with each other and that makes things rather interesting. There’s plenty of sneaking about and trickery in order to unravel the mystery.
I like this book quite a bit because we have some demented characters and we don’t always get to damage or kill them. This is to the plot as the fifth taste, umami, is to my tongue. It’s a little sour, a touch sweet, and chunk of it is bitter. Harry can’t undo all the damage they have done. The sweetness is the anticipation (or sometimes merely hope) of these unsavory folks getting trounced eventually. Then, sometimes, the bad guys do get away.
Counter to that, is Harry’s humor. It’s nearly always bravado against something bigger and tougher. It sometimes veers into self-depreciating, but who wouldn’t want to rename the attacking saplings as a chlorofiend? It sounds bigger and nastier. The chuckle here and there helped relieve the tension.
Once Harry has a grasp on what happened to who and why, he then has to figure out how to save the world, literally. The final chapters are big and epic and if I had not come into this series late, I would have been concerned that the series might end with this book here and now. A lot of worthy scenes played out in those last few chapters.
The Narration: James Marsters continues on as the voice of Harry Dresden, and doing it quite well. I feel that he’s a bit more refined in his skill for this book. While I enjoyed his pauses or sighs or light coughs of embarrassment for Harry’s character in Books 1-3, I found there to be quite a bit less of that for this book. I don’t particularly miss it and I think this is more in line with audiobook narration instead of leaning towards radio drama. Marsters did great with all the smug female Fae voices. I continue to enjoy his TootToot fairy voice.
What I Liked: The Fae courts!; Harry is forced out of his slump and into a case; the college werewolves; Harry’s old flame returns unexpectedly; the epic battle scenes at the end; some truly unscrupulous characters; great narration.
What I Disliked: Nothing – a great story!
What Others Think: