Tag Archives: Urban Fantasy

Interview: Clay Gilbert

This week, I got to get to know a new indie author. Clay Gilbert is man who writes what he loves: horror, urban fantasy, and science fiction! He’s just released his seventh novel onto Amazon, The Kind Memory’s Children: Book One The Golden Road. And that’s just one of his intriguing novels!

First, let’s get to know Clay with some fun, quirky questions!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you want with you.
The Bible, Moby-Dick, and Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Dune, that’s a good choice. My favorite science fiction novel, and there is a reason the Bible has endured the centuries whether or not you believe in god or even Judeo-Christianity. Lot of truth about reality found in there.

What animal best describes your personality?
Cats.
Interesting.

If there was one place in the world you’d love to visit, where would it be?
Oakley Court, near Windsor, in the UK, the location for much of the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Are you a cat or dog person?
Cat
I had a feeling after your personality answer!

If you could have a dinner with one historical person, who would it be?
Hmm. Maybe Frank Herbert or Robert Heinlein.
Frank Herbert had such fascinating ideas about the great man fallacy.

 

Now let’s get down to brass tacks!

Besides writing, what are you passionate about?
My Christian faith, and the Bible; music of all sorts, but particularly the music of the Grateful Dead; movies, and books.

What drew you to the craft of writing?
I started writing and reading early, and from the time I realized that there were people who wrote as a job, the way that my father went to his office every day, that’s the job I wanted. I published my first short story at the age of thirteen, in Scholastic magazine. They paid me $25. I never really looked back after that.
Awesome! I never shared what I was writing with anyone at thirteen. Too scared. That, and I couldn’t finish a story before a new idea caught my attention.

When writing a novel, are you a detailed planner or do you fly by the seats of your pants?
Thank you for not using the term ‘pantser.’ I don’t outline. I don’t plan in advance, much. At the same time, my process isn’t as random as what ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ suggests. I usually start with a character, or pair of characters, and let them tell me what the story is. In other words, the conflicts, situations, end goals, and the world my story happens to be set in are all centered around and suited for the people in the story. And I find that they know what’s best for the story much more than I would, if I were to force things. Outlining to me seems like trying to have control over something I don’t want control over.
Interesting take on it.

What has attracted you to writing across such diverse genres as science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror? Of the three, which is your favorite to write about.
I probably consider myself mostly a science fiction writer, although I do have a strong love for horror and urban fantasy as well. I just published a second horror novel, Cassie’s Song, the sequel to my vampire novel Dark Road to Paradise, and I plan on publishing two more horror novels next year, along with more science fiction. The Kind, Book One: The Golden Road is the first of a two-part urban fantasy, and while I like that genre, I don’t know if I’ll have more to say in that area once the second book, To Terrapin and Back Again, is published this fall. We’ll have to see.

Tell us about Annah, the heroine from your Children of Evohe Series. What makes her such an intriguing character to read about?
I sometimes refer to the first book of that series, Annah and the Children of Evohe, as ‘Jane Eyre’ in space. Like Charlotte Bronte’s heroine, Annah is an outcast in her world, and an independent thinker. Also like Jane, Annah finds love with a much older man—the human Gary Holder, whose ship crash-lands on Annah’s homeworld of Evohe, and whom she nurses back to health. Unlike Jane, though, Annah becomes a messiah figure to her people, similar to Paul Atreides in Frank Herbert’s Dune. And that was one of the things I wanted to explore when I started that series—why are there no female messiah-figures in fiction, science fiction specifically? What would it be like to merely want to fit in, and to have this sort of destiny put upon you? Annah’s interesting because she has a strong desire to belong, but the other things she feels called to do can’t help but divide her from her people in some ways. She’s also not some kind of flawless, perfect heroine. She has many strengths, but she also has fears and weaknesses and failings, and certainly doesn’t always do the right thing.
That does sound interesting. Nice foundation to build off of!

Eternity and its City sounds intriguing. What was the inspiration behind Eternity’s quest to lead it to freedom?
I wrote the original draft of Eternity between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college, or, in other words, between the ages of seventeen and eighteen, the same time period that passes for Eternity in the novel. I revised it a number of times, but it’s surprising to me that, in its published form, it’s still about 75% the book that seventeen-year-old me wrote all those years ago. The inspiration was twofold, really: I’ve also enjoyed dystopian books like Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’ s 1984, but I also enjoy coming-of-age stories like S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I wanted to write a dystopian novel in which the broad political struggle was more a metaphor for the growing-up process of adolescence. It was very immediate struggle to me when I first wrote the book, because it was pretty much my life, or how I experienced it, internally. Revising it, later, as a adult, I was able to refine the raw emotions and the inexperienced prose style of my younger self into a form that, if seventeen-year-old me could see it, I think he’d say that was what he meant in the first place. Next year, I’m writing a sequel called Islands of Light. It takes place thirty years later, and, like the original book, will attempt to function on two levels. What do the struggles of youth look like to an adult, thirty years on? And also, what happens, politically, when you win a war? We won, but do we become the oppressors now? What does that look like? I’m looking forward to going back to the City and exploring those issues.

What do you have coming up next?
So far, in 2018, I’ve published The Conversationalist, Book One: Out of the Blue, the first part of a sci-fi romantic comedy, Cassie’s Song, the second book in my vampire series Tales of the Night-Kind, and the first book of the urban fantasy The Kind, entitled The Golden Road. This fall, I’ll be publishing Book Two of The Kind, titled To Terrapin and Back Again, the second Conversationalist novel, entitled Mission to Mercy Prime, and the fourth Children of Evohe novel, Annah and the Arrow.

Last, do you have any advice for a new or aspiring author?
Write what you love, not what you think is going to sell. You must be your primary audience, starting out. If you write a story you are passionate about, other people will be, too. Write from passion, not fashions or trends. Write every day. Treat it like a job. Same time, same place, every day, for as much time as you can spare. Dismiss the idea of ‘writer’s block’ from your mind. ‘Writer’s block’ is made up BS that people use as an excuse not to do their work. If you had a stopped-up toilet, and the plumber showed up and apologetically said he couldn’t do his job because he had ‘plumber’s block, would you stand for that? Don’t stand for it in your writing, either. Set a goal. I try for an average of 20,000 words, or ten pages, a day. Whatever your daily goal is, don’t stop until you achieve it, and eliminate ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary.
That is some great advice that I personally agree with. Writing is my job, and I try to keep a schedule for it.

Well, thank you for letting me get a chance to talk to you! I wish you well on your writing!

Clay Gilbert says he’s always liked stories, and that from the time he knew there were people who told them for a living, that’s what he wanted to do. Clay’s work in various genres has been in print since his first short science fiction story, “The Computer Conspiracy,” was published in Scholastic magazine when he was just thirteen. Clay is the author of the science fiction series Children of Evohe, including the novels Annah and the Children of Evohe, Annah and the Exiles, Annah and the Gates of Grace, and Annah and the Arrow. He is also the author of the YA dystopian novel Eternity, the science fiction novel The Conversationalist: Out of the Blue and its sequel, The Conversationalist: Mission to Mercy Prime, as well as the vampire novel Dark Road to Paradise, and its sequel, Cassie’s Song, all published by Dark Moon Press. He lives and works in Knoxville, TN. His author blog can be found at http://portalsandpathways.wordpress.com/, and the official website for his Children of Evohe novels resides at https://childrenofevohe.com/.

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Review: Sleeping Late on Judgement Day (Bobby Dollar Book 3)

Sleeping Late on Judgement Day (Bobby Dollar Book 3)

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bobby Dollar (Doloriel to the heavenly host) is an earthbound angel, an advocate fighting to keep souls out of hell. After the events of the last two novels, he is in a whole lot of trouble with Heaven. His personal judgment day approaches and he has to work fast to keep from being damned.

But when one of his judges is the very angel who has betrayed him and seeks to bury him for what he knows, things look grim. Worse, his girlfriend, the demon Casmira, remains imprisoned in Hell. His only shot of saving her is finding the demon horn kept by Anaias, proof of the angel’s bargain with Hell.

With the help of his angel friends and two lesbian amazons, Bobby will have to deal with a vengeful goddess, an insane group of modern-day Nazis, and the very bureaucracy of Heaven to uncover the truth of what’s been going on and to save his girlfriend from eternal torment.

It’s a lot for one angel to do.

The final Bobby Dollar novel keeps the fast paced and twisting plots of the first. Williams peels back his mythology even farther, showing us the layers of world building that went into this well-thought out trilogy. Characters are tested, friendships are strained, and lives are lost against one goddess eager to get back what she lost.

If you’re a fan of fast-paced stories, exciting adventures, and urban fantasy, you need to check out the Bobby Dollar Trilogy. And if you’ve read the first two books, you need to see how this story ends.

You can buy Sleeping Late on Judgement Day from Amazon!

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Review: Happy Hour in Hell

Happy Hour in Hell (Bobby Dollar Book 2)

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bobby Dollar (Doloriel to the heavenly host) is an earthbound angel, an advocate fighting to keep souls out of hell. After the events of the first novel, his life has been shaken up. He found love in the arms of the demon Casmira, Countess of the Cold Hands.

But she’s gone, taken back into hell by the Eligor, one of the Dukes of Hell out of jealous possession. Unable to let her go, Bobby embarks on a dangerous journey into hell itself. He will do anything to save Caz, even lose himself to an eternity of torment.

And even if he survives the trip through the layers of hell and finds her, he will have to contend with one of its most powerful ruler.

Williams paints a very bleak and disturbing hell. Like Dante before him, he takes you into the darkest pits. But Bobby, unlike Dante, doesn’t just witness the suffering and torment. He lives it. He has to experience the horrors day after day as he treks across its layers and meets its inhabitants. Williams shows the lives of those damned to suffering, how they survive, how they are tormented, how their dystopic societies work. Everything wears down the spirit and you suffer it with Bobby.

It is powerful writing and a great follow-up to the Noir detective novel of the first book. Williams takes his world into the fantasy quest with seamless effort. The journey through hell is one of the most macabre that I have written, with imagery that will haunt you. It is clear the author put a lot of effort into his imaging of how Hell would function, from its different classes of people, each with their own motivations and dreams, to the vagarious ways they are tormented.

Happy Hour in Hell is a dark, disturbing, and powerful read. Fans of Urban Fantasy need to check out his series and understand why Tad Williams is a huge name in the world of fantasy literature.

You can buy Happy Hour in Hell from Amazon!

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Review: The Dirty Streets of Heaven

The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar Book 1)

by Tad Williams

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Bobby Dollar (Doloriel to the heavenly host) is an earthbound angel, an advocate fighting to keep souls out of hell. After so many years living on Earth, he’s grown bitter, disillusioned, going through the motions in the never ending contest between Heaven and Hell.

When a soul comes up missing on his watch, everything changes. Never has a soul been lost, and Bobby Dollar has to figure out what’s going on before he takes the fall. Has Hell stolen the soul out from under heaven’s nose or is something even worse going on? And worse off, the new guy is asking questions. With the help of Sam, Bobby’s best friend and fellow angel, and a cast of colorful characters, Bobby will have to ask the right questions to figure out what is going on.

Bobby Dollar will have to dodge ancient demons, sultry femme fatales, and angry Lords of Hell to uncover the secret that may shake the foundation of Heaven and Hell.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven is a classic Noir detective story. You have our bitter, borderline alcoholic protagonist in Bobby, people who should be on his side but he can’t quite trust, bad buys who may or may not be out to kill him, women who can’t be trusted, a macguffin to recover, and a conspiracy to unravel. And all set in the sunny streets of San Jude in the bay area. A modern take on the noir story complete with a fantasy patina.

Williams has created a rich mythology for his war between Heaven and Hell. It is clearly thought out with plenty of new revelations to come on how it all works and the secret war being waged beneath the noses of regular mortals. The same care he puts into his other works is on display here. Form the noir to the urban fantasy elements, Williams balance them all perfectly to make an exciting tale keeping the pages turning and you wanting to find out what’s next.

If you’re a fan of Urban Fantasy, Noir, and good writing, then you need to check out this series!

You can buy The Dirty Streets of Heaven from Amazon.

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Reread of Fool Moon: Part 1

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 2: Fool Moon

by Jim Butcher

Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Intro!

Chapter 1

Harry is at McAnally’s pub for dinner with Kim Delaney, a former student of Harry’s. Kim was a minor talent that Harry taught the basics to. She asked Harry to come (with the promise of free food) if he could tell her about a complicated magical circle she came across. Harry advises her to forget about it, that it’s out of her league. She protests, saying its not for anything serious, just “academic interest.”

Harry’s hunger causes his resolve to waver and he agrees to tell her about it. Harry’s had some financial troubles lately. For some reason Karrin Murphy hasn’t been hiring him as a consultant for Chicago PD lately. After they finish eating their steaks and fries, Kim asks Harry about the circle.

Harry explains that it is High magic and the three concentric circles act like “layered walls.” The outermost stops creatures of the Nevernever, the middle stops mortal flesh, and Harry calls the third circle a mistake and asks if she copied it right which Kim insights she did. Harry explains that it looks like the circle was built to hold something of spirit and flesh, and Harry lies and says there are no beings like that. Harry lied because a cage like this would only be need to stop something immensely powerful like a demonic demigod or archangel.

Kim doesn’t believe Harry because someone made this circle to trap something. She persists and Harry finally tells her that what this circle is meant to contain is way out of her league. Harry knows its more than academic interest driving her and warns her that she doesn’t have the training or knowledge, comparing it to a grade school kid trying calculus. Kim gets angry, saying Harry has no right to tell her what to do.

Harry changes the subject, asking about how her fund-raiser is going. Kim is an environmental activist and she is burned out on the whole thing right now. Harry tries to get her to promise one last time to not mess with the circle.

She tossed her napkin down, left a few bills on the table, and stood up. “Enjoy your meal, Harry,” she said. “And thanks for nothing.”

I stood up as well. “Kim,” I said. “Wait a minute.”

But she ignored me. She stalked off toward the door, her skirt swaying along with her long hair. She cut an impressive, statuesque figure. I could feel the anger bubbling off her. One of the ceiling fans shuddered and let out a puff of smoke as she walked under it, then whirled down to a halt. She raced up the short flight of stairs and exited the bar, banging the door shut behind her. People watched her leave, then glanced back to me, speculation on their faces. I sat back down, frustrated. Dammit. Kim was one of several people I had coached through.

Harry broods in McAnally’s worrying about Kim. That circle was the big time and it could go wrong from her. Not to mention the White Council doesn’t like it when people mess around with major summonings. Harry’s just wished Kim trusted him enough to listen to his advise. As he broods, Murphy walks in to the pub and over to Harry’s table. She notices Kim’s paper, which Harry had balled up and thrown on the floor, and tidily picks it up.

Harry greets Murphy, trying unsuccessfully to keep the anger out of his voice. Murphy starts to explain and Harry cuts her off, talking about an article in the Tribune that called him a charlatan and asks if Murphy read it. Murphy is impatient with Harry’s whole rant and tells him that there’s been a murder in Harry’s field of expertise.

My Thoughts

The book starts with a quote about how Harry know keeps track of the phases of the moon, presumably after the events of this book.

Kim Delaney is far to eager and excited by this magical circle for it to be academic. She is going to attempt it and due to the law of storytelling, it will go wrong. It has been foreshadowed. Of course, maybe she’ll buck convention and actually succeed.

Once again, we see Harry denying someone the whole picture, just telling them they need to listen to what he says because he’s the wizard without telling them why. Maybe Harry would have been more effective if he explained what the circle for and maybe talk about how the White Council is and why they’ll cut your head off if you break one of their laws.

Weirdly, in later books, the local minor talents, like Kim, are well aware of the White Council and the seven laws and the Wardens who cut peoples heads off for breaking them. It really feels like the Dresdenverse is still in flux right now. The third book is where Butcher starts thinking more about the universe and how it works beyond Harry and Chicago.

Kim Delaney is also an environmental activist. Probably not important. Nope. I’m an author, that’s how I know that things like this are never important.

And Murphy picking up Kim’s discarded paper is probably not important. Just Butcher making sure his characters are environmentally responsible and discarded their trash.

Harry, passive-aggressiveness is just petty. I’m from the Seattle area and that’s how everyone up here handles conflict so I know. Petty and annoying. Be the bigger man! Murphy here to give you work. There’s been a murder.

I should not be so excited about someone’s untimely death, but it’s the start of a Harry Dresden Investigation.

Chapter 2

Harry and Murphy drive to the scene in Murphy’s Saturn. Murphy is in a hurry, driving reckless even for a cop. Their destination is a half built strip mall and Harry is confused since they are outside of Chicago city limits and asks if there out of her jurisdiction. “People need help wherever they can get it, Dresden.” She explains the other killing took place inside city limits.

Murphy leads him to the building and Harry realizes its the Varsity, Marcone’s club that burned down last spring, and Murphy explains its being rebuilt. Inside, the police are documenting the murder scene of a man that had been badly mauled. Harry recognizes him as one of Marcone’s bodyguards that Harry calls Spike.

Murphy is not pleased when Harry tells her who the victim is, and she tells him to look around. Harry finds blood on broken glass and it looks like someone or something smashed through the window. Harry pockets a piece of bloody glass. Harry continues to look around and spots a large paw print and then notices the almost-full moon through the window. He asks Murphy is the other attacks happened about a month ago. Murphy nods in agreement and asks if werewolves are real. They are.

Four FBI agents enter the scene and Murphy gets pissed, wondering how they got here so fast. The lead FBI, Agent Denton, is not pleased to see Murphy here and reminds her that she’s not welcome in his investigation. Denton asks who Harry is and makes snide comments about him being a charlatan. He orders Agent Benn, the female agent, to escort “these two civilians” from the scene. Murphy refuses to leave, saying she has permission from the local police to be here. Denton orders Benn to remove them again, and she tries to grab Murphy. Blows are traded, and Murphy slams Benn into a wall.

Benn’s expression went from shocked and surprised to furious in the space of half a second. Her hand dipped into her jacket, hesitated for half a second, and then resumed motion. She drew her gun with an expert’s precision, smooth and quick without seeming hurried. Her green eyes blazed. I threw myself at Murphy, colliding with her and driving her over and down as the gun went off, louder than a close clap of thunder in the interior of the half-finished restaurant. We landed in a heap on the dusty floor.

Denton moves between Murphy and Agent Benn. All the cops on the scene race over and Denton says there was a misfire. Murphy backs Denton up, to Harry’s confusion. He keeps calling Benn a “crazy bitch.”

Denton orders the two other FIB agents, Harris and Wilson, to escort Harry and Murphy. Harry asks why Murphy didn’t say what really happened. Murphy is just pissed that Agent Benn tried to sucker punch her. Harry points out she also tried to “ventilate” her. Harry watches as Denton is talking to Benn and thinks Denton is hiding something.

Agent Harris, the youngest of the FBI Agents, apologizes on behalf of Benn, saying she’s been stressed out by the Lobo killings. Agent Wilson tells Harris to shut up and tells Murphy to leave or they’ll contact Internal Affairs.

My Thoughts

Wow! Really, Agent Benn, shooting your colleagues it so not cool. This woman needs to be relieved of duty immediately. Why are you guys covering for her, especially you Murphy. I know you’re not really supposed to be here but that was like attempted manslaughter or something.

Anyways, we have full moon related animal killings. It’s a werewolf! They’re calling them the Lobo Killings. That’s a great name for a werewolf serial killer, The Lobo Killer. And poor Spike. We barely got to know you. So, somehow Marcone is involved in this mess.

So, how did the FBI Agents arrive so quickly, what’s the real reason for Agent Benn’s temper tantrum, and what is Agent Denton hiding? All these questions and more simmer through the book. Butcher is great at setting up his mysteries and throwing so many twists and turns at you. But they’re still coherent on a read through and don’t fall apart under scrutiny.

Chapter 3

Outside, Harry takes a minute to get his stomach under control after viewing such a gruesome murder scene and coming down from the adrenaline high of saving Murphy from a psychotic (my words) FBI Agent. Murphy apologizes to Harry at the car, saying she wasn’t supposed to be here and for dragging Harry into it. Harry asks her to explain what’s been happening. She hesitates, and Harry points out that he saved her life twice now. Things get awkward between them.

Harry knows that their relationship has been off since last spring when Harry held out information from Murphy and Harry tries to talk about it and Murphy asks why they didn’t talk about six months ago. Harry tries to explain why he held back on here and she is still angry because she trusted Harry and he broke that trust.

I winced. That stung. What’s worse, she was in the right. “Some of what I knew… It was dangerous, Murph. It could have gotten you killed.”

Her blue eyes fixed on me with a glare that made me lean back against the car door. “I am not your daughter, Dresden,” she said, in a very soft, calm voice. “I am not some porcelain doll on a shelf. I’m a police officer. I catch the bad guys and I put their asses away, and if it comes down to it, I take a bullet so that some poor housewife or CPA doesn’t have to.” She got her gun out of its shoulder holster, checked the ammo and the safety, and replaced it. “I don’t need your protection.”

“Murphy, wait,” I said hastily. “I didn’t do it to piss you off. I’m your friend. Always have been.”

She looked away from me as an officer with a flashlight walked past the car, shining the light about on the ground as he looked for exterior evidence. “You were my friend, Dresden. Now…” Murphy shook her head once and set her jaw. “Now, I don’t know.”

Harry doesn’t know what to say, he had never tried to see it fro her perspective before and realizes that by not telling her everything, he left her defenseless and unprepared last spring. Harry apologizes and she accepts and tells Harry that there can be no more secrets this time and refuses to involve anymore if he doesn’t promise. He reluctantly promises to tell her everything this time.

She glanced at me, at my eyes for a breath, and then looked away. She started the car and drove from the parking lot. “All right,” she said. “I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you because I need every bit of help I can get. Because if we don’t nail this thing, this werewolf, we’re going to have another truckload of corpses on our hands this month. And,” she sighed, “because if we don’t, I’m going to be out of a job. And you’ll probably end up in jail.”

My Thoughts

OMG! Harry realizes that not telling Murphy is why there relationship is strained and he realizes he did the same thing to Kim. Maybe you can eventually overcome this problem, Harry. I’m glad it occurs to Harry just what a compromised position he put her in last spring.

But, even with this self-realization moment, Harry is still reluctant to commit to telling Murphy the whole truth. Come on, Harry. Murphy’s a big girl, she can handle it. Hell, she’s not flinching at all away from this whole werewolf business.

Murphy trusted Harry and he re-payed that trust with secrets. He deserves to be in the doghouse with her so he would have to be an idiot to make the same mistake again. She’s given him a second chance.

And not pressure to put too much pressure Harry, but Murphy’s job and his freedom is on the line. Nothing like High Stakes to motivate a character. Especially Harry who thrives when the shit hits the fan.

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Reread of Fool Moon: Intro

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 2: Fool Moon

by Jim Butcher

Intro

619uoim4iolAfter devouring the first book of the series, Storm Front, in a day (I miss my younger years when I could do that), I was eager for more. I was hooked from the very beginning thanks to Harry’s advertisement:

HARRY DRESDEN—WIZARD
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advise. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other
Entertainment

Now I was eager to dive into Book 2 and find out what new adventures were in store for the only practicing wizard in the city of Chicago. Like the first book, I devoured Fool Moon. Butcher does a great follow-up to his first book, building on the events that happened which all impact the plot of this book from the strain in Dresden and Murphy’s relationship, the politics of the city, and the activities of the gangster Johnny Marcone.

And even better, it’s about werewolves. And not just any werewolves, but all of them. Butcher manages to take all the dispirited different versions of werewolves from mythology and legend and weave them into his story, giving different flavors. The world building of the Dresdenverse is always something I enjoy about reading them.

Let’s find out if Book 2 is as good as the first! (Spoiler, it is)

Be warned. There are SPOILERS ahead. It’s a given that I’ll be spoiling this book and may touch on themes that happen later in the series, but I will keep those to a minimum. This is an amazing book series. While each novel is a standalone story (though that line did blur with the last few), there is an overarching mythology and plot points spawned from this very book. If a character survives and had a modicum of impact on the story, expect their return. Butcher gathers a rich tableau of allies, enemies, and frenemies for Harry Dresden while weaving myths from every culture into a seamless universe.

So lets dive into an amazing urban fantasy series!

If you haven’t gotten bored yet, click her for Part 1

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 9

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 9

Welcome to Part 9 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 8!

Chapter 25

Harry’s Sight reveals no magical alarms or traps as he limps up the porch stairs. For the hell of it, he tries the front door and is stunned to find it unlocked. Inside, the house appeared to Harry’s Sight, just as vile as the outside, and hungry, glittering eyes stared at him from the shadows.

Harry can hear music, the same song that played at Tommy Tomm’s hotel room, coming from a hallway. Harry makes his way towards the music and a room filled with purple light. Finally, Harry heard a man repeating an incantation and a woman moaning in pleasure. The hallway opens up a living room. Stairs lead up to the second floor where the ritual is being performed.

Against the wall are boxes and crates stacked. Harry finds them filled with ThreeEye or the ingredients to make the drug: absinthe, ammonia, peyote mushrooms, alum, antifreeze, glitter, and other materials.

Thunder rumbles closer, and Harry hears Victor’s chanting increase in volume. Harry gathers his courage as the ritual nears its climax. “You pays your money, you takes your chances,” Harry mutters and slags the stereo with fire magic. Then, using wind, lifts himself up to the second floor.

Victor is in a circle of purple light with a rabbit bound before him and a sharpened spooned to dig out the rabbits heart. A lock of Harry’s hair is tied to the rabbit’s head. In another circle, the Beckitts were “writhing together in mindless, sweating desire” to power Victor’s spell. Victor is stunned to see Harry.

“You!” he shouted. “Me,” I confirmed.

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about, Vic.”

His shock transformed into snarling anger in a heartbeat. He snatched up the sharpened spoon, raised it in his right hand, and screamed out words of the incantation. He dragged the rabbit in front of him, the ceremonial representation of me, and prepared to gouge out its, and therefore my, heart.

I didn’t give him the chance to finish. I reached into a pocket and hurled the empty plastic film canister at Victor Shadowman.

As a weapon, it wasn’t much. But it was real, and it had been hurled by a real person, a mortal. It could shatter the integrity of a magic circle.

The canister went through the air above Victor’s circle and broke it, just as he completed the incantation and drove the spoon’s blade down at the poor rabbit. The energy of the storm came whipping down the cylinder of focus created by Victor’s now-flawed circle.

There’s an explosion of power and Victor screams “Why don’t you just die!” Victor sends flames at Harry manages to conjure an adequate shield. Victor summons a bone tube as Harry does the unexpected in a magical duel, tackles Victor and starts to kick him on the ground. Harry is interrupted by Beckitt, who shoots Harry in the hip.

Victor dumps a half dozen scorpions out of the bone tube and turns they grow into identical creatures that had just tore up Harry’s office. Harry crawls backwards into the kitchen and ducks behind a counter and grabs a broom, his only weapon.

A roomful of deadly drug. One evil sorcerer on his home turf. Two crazies with guns. One storm of wild magic looking for something to set it into explosive motion. And half a dozen scorpions like the one I had barely survived earlier, rapidly growing to movie-monster size. Less than a minute on the clock and no time-outs remaining for the quarterback.

All in all, it was looking like a bad evening for the home team.

My Thoughts

Come on, Victor. You have an evil lair and are preforming evil rituals, as well as storing quantities of illegal narcotics, and you don’t even lock your door?

I once again love the potion ingredients. Butcher manages to take such mundane items, mix them with some exotic, and it makes intuitive sense for why they work as potions. He really needs to have Harry whip up more potions just because I love the creativity he puts into them.

Harry makes quite an entrances, especially when you consider he’s wearing sweatpants and cowboy boots. SciFi or SyFy or whatever stupid name you call yourselves now, why wasn’t this scene in the adaptation of Storm Front for the Dresden File TV show? Why couldn’t you be bothered to a faithful adaption to begin with.

I could write an entire blog post on the subject, but I digress.

“Why won’t you die!” Many bad guys ask this about Harry. He’s like the energizer bunny, he just keeps going and going.

Love how Harry is more than willing to just kick Victor ass than bother to have a proper magic duel. Poor Victor. Spent all that time learning how to carve the hearts out of bunnies to kill people and not enough time on the self defense. Lucky the Beckitts are packing or that would have been such a pathetic end to a villain.

Butcher brings all the elements of his magic system to play, with rituals, magic circles, all the stuff he has taught us about over the course of the book and how easy it is for Harry to disrupt it.

Chapter 26

Trapped in the kitchen, and without his blasting rod, evocation magic is too dangerous in the close quarters of the kitchen. Harry remembers a spell he learned when he was an apprentice, and enchants the broom he’s holding. The broom comes to life, much like in Fantasia, and sweeps the scorpions off the second floor before they had a chance to grow much.

Victor screams in rage and the Beckitts try to shoot the broom. Fire from Victor’s spell is spreading now and Victor offers to let Harry go. Harry counteroffers of waiting for the fire to spread and kill them all and wipe out Victor’s drug stockpile.

Victor snarled and pitched another burst of flame into the kitchen. This time, it was much easier to cover myself, half-shielded as I already was by the counters. “Oh, cute,” I said, my voice dripping scorn. “Fire’s the simplest thing you can do. All the real wizards learn that in the first couple of weeks and move on up from there.” I looked around the kitchen. There had to be something I could use, some way I could escape, but nothing presented itself.

“Shut up!” Victor snarled. “Who’s the real wizard here, huh? Who’s the one with all the cards and who’s the one bleeding on the kitchen floor? You’re nothing, Dresden, nothing. You’re a loser. And do you know why?”

“Gee,” I said. “Let me think.”

He laughed, harshly. “Because you’re an idiot. You’re an idealist. Open your eyes, man. You’re in the jungle, now. It’s survival of the fittest, and you’ve proved yourself unfit. The strong do as they wish, and the weak get trampled. When this is over, I’m going to wipe you off my shoe and keep going like you never existed.”

Dresden lies and tells Victor the police, the White Council, and Marcone all know about him. Victor demands to know who hired Dresden, and Harry continues to mock him, hoping to angry Victor enough that he makes a mistake. Victor tells the Beckitts to start the car and then begins to summon his toad-demon, Kalshazzak.

Harry’s curiosity gets the better of him, and he peers over the counter to see the demon being summoned. Harry see the same toad-demon he banished last night (you can’t kill a demon, just destroy the bodies they create to inhabit the mortal world). Victor gloats in triumphant, “There Dresden. Do you see? The strong survive, and the weak are torn to little pieces.” Victor sics the demon on Harry. Harry stands to face it.

“My God, Victor,” I said. “I can’t get over how clumsy you are.”

Victor’s smile immediately became a snarling sneer once again. I saw fear touch the corners of his eyes, uncertainty even though he was on top, and I felt a little smile quirk my lips. I moved my gaze to the demon’s.

“You really shouldn’t just hand someone else a demon’s name,” I told him. Then I drew in a breath, and shouted out in a voice of command, “Kalshazzak!”

Harry speaks the demon’s name a second time and struggles to speak it’s name a third time. He thinks of Jenny Sells, Murphy unconscious on a stretcher, and Susan sick and unable to run. Harry had beaten it once and gathers his will and yells “Kalshazzak” for the third time.

The demon turns turns to Victor and ignores his orders. Victor runs for the door, but Harry tackles him and the pair grapple at the balcony. Victor demands to know what Harry did, and Harry explains about the Fourth Law of Magic forbids “binding any being against its will” so Harry set the demon free.

“What do we do?” Victor said. His voice was shaking, and he started shaking me, too. “What do we do?”

“We die,” I said. “Hell, I was going to do that anyway. But at least this way, I take you out with me.”

I saw him glance at the demon, then back to me, eyes terrified and calculating. “Work with me,” he said. “You stopped it before. You can stop it again. We can beat it, together, and leave.”

I studied him for a moment. I couldn’t kill him with magic. I didn’t want to. And it would only have brought a death sentence on my head in any case. But I could stand by and do nothing. And that’s exactly what I did. I smiled at him, closed my eyes, and did nothing.

Victor tries to throw Harry at the demon, and the pair continue their grapple. The railing on the balcony snaps, and Harry fall down onto the first floor with the scorpions while Victor hangs onto the railing. Harry, seeing Victor prepare to use magic on the demon, distracts Victor by telling him Monica ratted him out. Victor is stunned and furious, and the demon bites Victor in the neck, severing an artery.

Harry climbs up Victor’s dying body, dangling over the balcony in the toad-demon’s maw. Harry’s weight pulls the toad-demon and Victor over the railing and drop them down with the scorpions. Harry was prepared for this, and hung onto a guardrail. He pulls himself up onto the balcony as the scorpion tear into Victor and Kalshazzak.

Harry’s strength gives out, the house is engulfed in flames and Harry lies there waiting for death when Morgan strides into the house, sword drawn. Morgan kills a scorpion and walks over to Harry, sword raised to strike at Harry.

Typical, was my last thought. How perfectly typical, to survive everything the bad guys could do, and get taken down by the people for whose cause I had been fighting.

My Thoughts

What an epic battle. Harry the underdog comes through, outsmarting Victor through the sheer fact that Harry was the professional and Victor was the amateur. Again, SyFy, why wasn’t the broom sweeping scorpion monsters in the Storm Front adaptation?

While Harry isn’t the most intelligent guy at figuring out what’s going on until it’s too late, under pressure, when everything is going down, he can think fast and throw together ballsy plans while others might be too overwhelmed by the situation to think. That and his pig-headed stubbornness is probably the character’s greatest strengths.

Most of the time.

Victor fails in classic villain manner, destroyed by his own creation. Well done, Dresden.

Of course, Morgan shows up at the worst possible time. Poor Harry. Except Morgan has a code. And though he’s a dick, he lives by that code.

Chapter 27

Harry wakes up to Morgan performing CPR on him. Harry is stunned that Morgan saved him and Morgan explains he saw the confrontation, how Harry risked his life to stop Shadowman without breaking the Laws.

“I wasn’t the killer,” I said.

“No.”

“So,” I wheezed, “that would make me right. And then that would make you—”

Morgan scowled. “More than ready to carry out the Doom if you cross the line, Dresden. Don’t think this has gotten you off the hook, as far as I’m concerned.”

Harry realizes that Morgan is now obliged to report what happened to the council and Morgan is not pleased. Morgan, and others, still think Harry “consorted with the powers of darkness.” And plan to continue watching Harry closely. Morgan stalks off as the police arrive.

The Beckitts are arrested fleeing because they’re naked and later are convicted of drug trafficking and sent to prison. Marcone burned the Varsity down for insurance money and put out the rumor that Harry was hired by Marcone to take out the ThreeEye gang.

Harry was in the hospital when the White Council met and the Doom of Damocles was lifted from him for “valorous action above and beyond the call of duty.” Murphy was in the hospital room down the hall from Harry and he sent her some flowers and the remains of her handcuffs. Murphy claims she doesn’t remember what happened in the office, rescinded the arrest warrant, and paid Harry his fee. She even called Harry to consult again.

Monica Sells and her children vanished into Witness Protection. Bob returned after his 24 hours were up, and there were rumors of a very wild party a the University of Chicago. Susan published her article, DATE WITH A DEMON. She visited Harry in the hospital, and he used sympathy to leverage another date with her. “That time, we were not interrupted by a demon. And I didn’t need any of Bob’s love potions or advice, thank you very much.”

Mac got his TransAm back, while Harry got the Blue Beetle back. Harry missed the TransAm. Harry sends a pizza a week to Toot-toot and his friends out at the lake. Mister the cat got nothing, but didn’t seem to care.

The world is getting weirder. Darker every single day. Things are spinning around faster and faster, and threatening to go completely awry. Falcons and falconers. The center cannot hold.

But in my corner of the country, I’m trying to nail things down. I don’t want to live in Victor’s jungle, even if it did eventually devour him. I don’t want to live in a world where the strong rule and the weak cower. I’d rather make a place where things are a little quieter. Where trolls stay the hell under their bridges and where elves don’t come swooping out to snatch children from their cradles. Where vampires respect the limits, and where the faeries mind their p’s and q’s.

My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call.

I’m in the book.

My Thoughts

What a great end to book and the start of a promising series. After I finished this book, I had to race back to the bookstore to pick up the next in the series. For a week, I read through the books up to Proven Guilty, where, sadly, I caught up with the what was published.

Harry can’t help but bait the bear with Morgan even when the guy just saved his life. Harry, sometimes you can give your smart mouth a rest. Geezs. Lucky for you, Morgan believes in duty and tells your story straight to the council.

Not much to say, pretty straight forward chapter that explains how everything turned out over the the next few months. As always, Harry’s personality adds quite a bit of humor and color to what is essential a checklist and makes it into something enjoyable and entertaining.

The foundation that Butcher builds later books has been laid here, many of the elements wrapped up at the end will come back as plot points in later books. Many of the characters will return (even in the case of one, not for a while) and we’ll even learn more about Victor’s killing spell way down the line and exactly what the spell is called. There will be a few continuity issues (like Harry claiming he saw his master summon He Who Walks Behind but in Book 13 when Harry tells the story, he doesn’t see it at all). But those are minor quibbles to the start of a great series.

At the end of the book, Harry ponders whether he really is a dangerous wizard like Morgan thought and realizes the temptation will always be there for Harry to do evil. He just plans on never giving in. We’ll see, Harry, we’ll see if you can keep walking that path as your enemies only get harder.

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Review of Shed Some Light (The Monster Series Book 3)

Shed Some Light (The Monster Series Book 3)

by Amber Naralim

Reviewed by JMD Reid

b01m354oqj-01-lzzzzzzzAfter the disastrous events of Into the Black, Ellie, her monstrous lover Vincent, and Reese, Vincent’s brother, have returned to the safe house. There they try to settle down with the others who had their lives disrupted by the shady organization breeding new monsters. But Ellie itches to get back out and hunt the other monsters she freed rescuing her brother Edward, chaffing at playing house.

Edward also battles his own demons. He was experimented on, transformed into a deadly version of the monsters, and fights to keep control of his dark impulses with the help of his blind lover Anna. But the urges to kill, to hurt, to cause fear lurk in his depth.

The household tries to heal, everyone of the residents scarred in their own ways. But when women who look like Anna began being murdered, they fear one the monster Delilah has found them and it will only be a matter of time before more pain and suffering are inflicted.

Naralim builds on the foundation of her two previous books, using the characters she has built and nurtured, using that as the strength of this novel. Where the previous two relied on fast-paced action to drive the narrative, Shed Some Light is stationary, rooted in a small house in the remote country of Canada. Here the characters, their relationships, struggles, hopes, and fears drive the plot.

And she pulls of this transition flawlessly. Her writing has never been stronger. The depth of her characters sustains this novel all on their own so when things start getting tense, you’re all the more anxious because you care for these characters.

Naralim blew me away with the depth of her storytelling and the tragedy of the tale she unfolds. If you haven’t read Walking with Monsters, do so. Then read Into the Black, and then read this amazing book!

You can buy Into the Black from Amazon.

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 8

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 8

Welcome to Part 8 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 7!

Chapter 22

Harry reaches his building and races up the stairs to his office to come to Murphy’s rescue. He pauses outside the open door and calls out Murphy’s name. No answer. Inside the office, he hears labored breathing and a scuttling sound. He also smells gunpowder. Angered, Harry strides into his office and surveys the room.

Murphy was lying behind Harry’s desk, blood staining her left shoulder. Harry kneels down next to her and checks her injury. There is a lot of swelling, and Harry realizes she’s been poisoned and calls 911 for an ambulance. In pain, Murphy accuses Harry of setting her up. Murphy handcuffs herself to Harry.

“You’re under arrest,” she wheezed. “You son of a bitch. Wait till I get you in an interrogation room. You aren’t going anywhere.”

I stared at her, stunned. “Murph,” I stammered. “My God. You don’t know what you’re doing.”

“Like hell,” she said, her lip lifting in a ghost of its usual snarl. She twisted her head around, grimacing in pain, and squinted at me. “You should have talked to me this morning. Got you now, Dresden.” She broke off in a panting gasp, and added, “You jerk.”

“You stubborn bitch from hell.” I felt at a loss for a second, then shook my head. “I’ve got to get you out of here before it comes back,” I said, and I stooped forward to try to gather her up.

The scorpion talisman attacks, no the size of a large terrier. It tries to sting Harry, misses, but some venom splashes on his cheek, burning him. Being handcuffed to Murphy makes it difficult to dodge the scorpion’s attack. The scorpion’s claw wounds Harry in the leg. Murphy becomes incoherent and then the venom blinds her.

Harry discards in plan to use magic to cut the handcuffs for fear of killing himself and Murphy in the process and curses his dad for never showing up to slip out of handcuffs. Finally, Harry manages to pull himself and Murphy out of the office, leaving behind his staff and blasting rod. Harry drags them to the elevator while the scorpion burst through his office door.

Harry frantically jabs the elevator button as the scorpion advance, and Harry realizes that the scorpion is still growing in size. As it charges, Harry holds up his left arm and activates his shield bracelet. The scorpion bounces off the shield as the elevator doors open. Harry throws himself and Murphy into the elevator.

The elevator descends, and Harry finally has a moment to think about the scorpion. He realizes its to smart for an actual scorpion, and it must be a construct, like a golem or a robot. Victor must have realized his talisman was missing and put a spell on it. Suddenly, the elevator stops and the control panel starts to smoke. Above, the scorpion has managed to pry open the elevator doors, and has dropped down onto the roof of the elevator.

Harry desperately racks his brain for a plan as the scorpion, now the size of a small car, tears the roof apart. Harry gets the idea to push the elevator car up with a massive column of wind and smash the scorpion between the elevator and the ceiling of the shaft. “Vento servitas!” shouts Harry, and the elevator rockets up, pushed by the wind, and smashes the scorpion to pieces and turns to ectoplasm goo.

However, the elevator brakes were destroyed, and the elevator begins to plummet back down towards the ground. Harry uses his shield bracelet to form a cushion of energy around himself and Murphy. The elevator smashes into the ground floor and the doors open and Harry and Murphy tumble out to find two astonished EMTs.

I was alive.

I blinked at that, somewhat stunned. I was alive. I looked down at myself, at my arms and legs, and they were all there. Then I let my head fall back and howled out a defiant laugh, a great, gawping whoop of primal joy.

“Take that, Victor Shadowman!” I shouted. “Hah! Hah! Give me your best shot, you murderous bastard! I’m going to take my staff and shove it down your throat!”

I was still laughing when the EMTs gathered me up and helped me and Murphy toward the ambulance, too stunned to ask any questions. I saw them both give me wary looks, though, and then trade a glance with one another that said they were going to sedate me with something as soon as they got the chance.

Harry continues his adrenal filled rant and notices his shield bracelet was destroyed. Outside, it is raining and Harry’s elation vanishes. “The storm had arrived.”

My Thoughts

Harry has funny pamphlets titled “Real Witches Don’t Float so Good” and “Magic in the Twenty-first Century.” Harry had actually written some himself. He’s really committed to showing the world about the supernatural.

While Murphy is incoherent from the scorpion venom, she reveals she has multiple ex-husbands who all have told her that she makes “things just a little harder than they need to be.” Poor Harry, he’s trying to save her life and all she can talk about is arresting and interrogating him. We meet one of those ex’s later (the second husband) while the first dies off screen of a heart attak midway through the series.

We get the first Harry Dresden Wily-e Coyote planTM with the wind and the elevator. Good thing Harry remembered his physics and used his shield to basically act like packing peanuts to distribute the force of their impact so they wouldn’t die when they hit the ground. Butcher’s devotion to realistic physics in his magic series is always great to see.

And it’s always fun to see a Harry rant while he’s on an adrenaline high.

Chapter 23

Harry is still handcuffed to Murphy as Harry and an EMT carry Murphy. Harry’s hands are too big to slip through the cuffs but Murphy’s aren’t. Harry works her cuff off her hand, taking a little skin with it. They set Murphy down on the curb and the EMTs begin to work on her. Harry tells the second EMT she’s been poisoned and that EMT patches up Harry’s leg wound real quick. As the second EMT begins to also work on Murphy, Harry slips out of the scene before the police arrive.

Harry realizes that the storm has come in from the west and hasn’t reached Victor Sells lake house. So if he hurries, he can race the storm. Harry doesn’t have time to retrieve his staff and rod. All Harry has is his mother’s pentacle talisman and years of formal training. First, Harry has to get a car. Harry quickly walks down to McAnally’s and finds the place packed.

They were the have-nots of the magical community. Hedge magi without enough innate talent, motivation, or strength to be true wizards. Innately gifted people who knew what they were and tried to make as little of it as possible. Dabblers, herbalists, holistic healers, kitchen witches, troubled youngsters just touching their abilities and wondering what to do about it. Older men and women, younger people, faces impassive or concerned or fearful, they were all there. I knew them all by sight, if not by name.

They had heard two wizards were about to throw down and had come to McAnally’s for shelter. Harry walks over to the bar and asks to borrow Mac’s car. With a grunt, Mac throws him his keys. Harry turns, and finds Morgan standing at the pub’s doorway.

Morgan accuses Harry of using the storms to fuel the spells to kill people, and orders Harry to sit down. Morgan wants to prevent Harry from killing anyone else. Harry tries to explain that he knows who the real killer is, and that he’s going to be killed in the next hour if he doesn’t stop him. Morgan draws his sword. So Harry grabs a chair and hits Morgan in the stomach, and then hit him again on the back, knocking Morgan to the ground senseless.

Harry flees the bar, knowing he just burned that bridge.

My Thoughts

Even though Murphy handcuffed and tried to arrest him, Harry still feels bad about abandoning her. But, hey, he doesn’t want to die, so you can’t blame the guy. She’s with the EMTs, and it was out of his hands anyway.

And Morgan continues to be a giant dick. While his plan would be laudible if Harry was the real killer, we know he’s not. And Harry can’t afford to sit around and die. Great moment when he slams that chair into Morgan’s back. Of course, if Harry survives Victor Shadowman, the Council is really going to hate him.

One crisis at a time. It’s like that proverb when your only chance to escape is to jump off the cliff. So you jump and hope you can figure out something before you hit the ground.

Mac is a great guy. He doesn’t even question Harry when he barges in and asks to borrow a car. Just grunts and hands him the keys.

Chapter 24

Mac’s car was a ’89 TransAm, and Harry drives it as fast as he could (the speedometer tops at 130 mph, Harry went faster at times). Luckily Its Sunday and traffic is light. Harry manages to get ahead of the storm just as he enters Lake Providence city limits. As Harry pulls into Victor Sells lake house driveway, the car dies. It had lasted long enough to get Harry here.

Harry surveys the house. Their could be magical alarms or traps, illusions or other spells just waiting. Harry needs to know and so opens his Third Eye.

The only thing I can say is that I felt as though a veil of thick cloth had been lifted away from me as I opened my eyes again—and not only from my eyes, but from all of my senses. I could abruptly smell the mud and fish odor of the lake, the trees around the house, the fresh scent of the coming rain preceding the storm on the smoke-stained wind. I looked at the trees. Saw them, not just in the first green coat of spring, but in the full bloom of summer, the splendor of the fall, and the barren desolation of winter, all at the same time. I Saw the house, and each separate part of it as its own component, the timbers as parts of spectral trees, the windows as pieces of distant sandy shores. I could feel the heat of summer and the cold of winter in the wind coming off the lake. I Saw the house wreathed in ghostly flames, and knew that those were part of its possible future, that fire lay down several of the many paths of possibility that lay ahead in the next hour.

Dark emotions cover the house like mold, and skulls adorned everywhere. Death lies in the house’s future, maybe Harry’s. Ghost and restless spirits have been drawn to the place like rats. Harry is both repulsed by the sight of the evil power in the house and attracted to it. Real power was here. Power to change the world to Harry’s desires. This is what he had turned his back on and his reward had been suspicion and contempt.

Harry realizes he could kill Victor right know, burn the house to the ground with the dark energy contained within. Anger surges in Harry. With such power, he could challenge the Council and their pathetic watchdog, Morgan.

The silver pentacle that had been my mother’s burned cold on my chest, a sudden weight that made me gasp. I sagged forward a little, and lifted a hand. My fingers were so tightly crushed into fists that it hurt to try to open them. My hand shook, wavered, and began to fall again.

Then something strange happened. Another hand took mine. The hand was slim, the fingers long and delicate. Feminine. The hand gently covered mine, and lifted it, like a small child’s, until I held my mother’s pentacle in my grasp.

The pentacle was a symbol of white wizardry, or order and rational. Harry calms down and remembers that magic came from life. “There is no truer gage of a man’s character than the way in which he employs his strength, his power.”

I was not a murderer. I was not like Victor Sells. I was Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. I was a wizard. Wizards control their power. They don’t let it control them. And wizards don’t use magic to kill people. They use it to discover, to protect, to mend, to help. Not to destroy.

The anger fades. The hand touching his is gone, but a lingering whiff of perfume remains. Harry gather his courage, and walks forward through the “spectral landscape littered with skulls.”

My Thoughts

Harry has his “Galadriel tempted by the One Ring moment.” I guess Harry get to remain Harry, and travel across the sea to… Err, no I guess he gets to go duel a Black Wizard with nothing but his wits.

I really liked how the spirit of Harry’s mother brings Harry back from the edge. Her spirit makes a few more appearance and we learn a lot more about her past.

Harry got a bum deal. He made the right decision, rejected his master’s offer to go to the dark side, and instead of getting an attaboy from the good guys, he got probation officer that is constantly threatening murder.

I really like the Sight’s description. Its a neat premise and always enjoy the description Butcher comes up with when Harry uses it throughout the books. I really liked how he can see the trees that the lumber came from. Nice touch.

Well, Harry is marching into his Mordor. Good Luck!

Click here to continue onto Part 9!

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Reread of Storm Front: Part 7

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 7

Welcome to Part 7 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 6!

Chapter 19

Harry has no time to flee, so hides behind the Linda Randall’s door just before it opens. A nervous man enters the room and starts searching frantically underneath Linda’s bed. Harry realizes this is the photographer looking for the film canister Harry found. Harry decides to use his police consultant badge to bluff that he’s a cop and question the man.

Harry startles the man, who starts babbling about how he’s just a photographer. Harry learns he is Donny Wise. Donny notices Harry’s identification, and realizes he’s not a cop and he’s leaving. Harry asks about the pictures he took out at Lake Providence on Wednesday but Donny tries to leave.

I gestured curtly to my staff in the corner, and hissed, in my best dramatic voice, “Vento servitas,” jerking my hand at the doorway. My staff, driven by tightly controlled channels of air moving in response to my evocation, leapt across the room and slammed the door shut in front of Donny Wise’s nose. He went stiff as a board. He turned to face me, his eyes wide.

“My God. You’re one of them. Don’t kill me,” he said. “Oh, God. You’ve got the pictures. I don’t know anything. Nothing. I’m no danger to you.” He tried to keep his voice calm, but it was shaking. I saw him tilt his eyes at the glass sliding doors to the little patio, as though calculating his chances of making it there before I could stop him.

Harry tells him to relax and to help him find Linda’s killer. Donny is scared, not wanting to be murdered like Linda. Harry promises to stop the murderer and Donny wants to know why he cares since he’s not a cop. “Who else is going to?” answers Harry, who then asks about the pictures.

Donny agrees to tell him in exchange for the roll of film Harry found. Harry agrees. Donny explains that he met Linda when he photographed her for an adult magazine. On Wednesday, Linda approached him and asked him to take some photograph out at Lake Providence in exchange for sex. Harry asked what he saw at the lake house and Donny said an orgy involving Linda, a second woman, and three men. Donny figured Linda wanted to blackmail someone important.

Harry asks what Donny wants the film for. Donny says he wants to destroy the film, but Harry sense he’s lying. Harry casts a spell and burns the film in the canister and then tells Donny he’ll regret it if he’s been lying. Donny assured him he’s telling the truth and flees apartment. Harry thinks that Linda was blackmailing Victor Sells and wanders how he’d stumbled onto this conspiracy by a chance.

Simple answer—it hadn’t been an accident. It had all been by design. I had been directed there. Someone had wanted me out at the lake house, had wanted me to get involved and to find out what was going on out there. Someone who was nervous as hell around wizards, who refused to give out her name, who had carefully dropped phrases that would make me believe her ignorance, who had to rush out quickly from her appointment and who was willing to let five hundred dollars go, just to get me off the phone a few seconds faster. Someone had drawn me out and forced me into the open, where I had attracted all sorts of hostile attention.

That was the key.

I gathered up my staff and rod and stalked out the door.

It was time to talk to Monica Sells.

My Thoughts

“Who else will?” That phrase summons up Harry’s character in a nutshell. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to help people. He took the Spiderman lesson to heart. He has power and he should use it to help people.

Out mysterious photographer is revealed be some slimeball who doesn’t have a problem being paid in sex and even after Linda is murdered, still wants to use that film for profit. Good thing Harry destroyed it or the guy would probably get himself killed. What’s interesting is that he said he didn’t see anything other than an orgy but when Harry uses magic, Donny is familiar enough with it and has clearly heard or dealt with other practitioners. Harry never followed up on this information.

The pieces are falling into place, we know who are villain is for sure now. Poor Linda, her leverage appears to have backfired on her.

We already knew from Toots that Victor Sells was hosting orgies at the lake house. But Donny reveals that there were lots of candles. The orgy appears to be part of some ritual, possibly the ritual that killed Tommy Tom and Jennifer Stanton.

Chapter 20

Harry arrives at Monica’s house. She lives out in the suburbs and Harry notices that all the surrounding houses on the street are abandoned with FOR SALE signs. There are no animal sounds, and Harry realizes the place is blighted from the presence of a black wizard. Harry knocks on the door, and Monica answers. She tells him to go away. Harry refuses and she threatens to call the police. Harry tells her to, he would love to tell the police about her husband.

Monica relaxes briefly and Harry pushes past her into house. Monica attacks him with a stun gun and Harry disarms her. Furiously she yells that she won’t let him harm her children and leaps at Harry and their eyes make contact and they have a soulgaze. Harry realizes that fear and love is motivating her. Harry also realizes who she looks like. Monica was abused as a child, and her husband abused her as well. Her two kids are all that matter to her now, and she hired Harry to protect them.

The soulgaze ends and Monica recovers quickly and asks what Harry wants. Harry wants to know who killed Tommy, Jennifer, and Linda, and he wants the lock of his hair back. Monica is surprised Linda’s dead, and Harry tells her it was last night and he’s next. Outside, thunder rumbles and Harry realizes another storm is on the way. Monica begs Harry to leave before her husband returns.

They are interrupted by Monica’s two kids, a girl and boy (who’s holding a baseball bat). The girl asks if everything all right and Monica tells her kids to go to their rooms and lock the door. She pleads with Harry to leave before the storm.

“Monica. Please. I’m up against a wall. I’m out of options. Everything I have leads here. To you. And I don’t have time to wait. I need your help, before I wind up just like Jennifer and Tommy and Linda.” I sought her eyes, and she looked up at me without turning her gaze away. “Please. Help me.” I watched her eyes, saw the fear and the grief and the weariness there. I saw her look at me as I leaned on her, and demanded more out of her than she could afford to give.

“All right,” she whispered. She turned away and walked toward the kitchen. “All right. I’ll tell you what I know, wizard. But there’s nothing I can do to help you.” She paused at the doorway and looked back at me. Her words fell with the weight of conviction, simple truth. “There’s nothing anyone can do, now.”

My Thoughts

When Monica thinks Harry is going to hurt her kids, she turns mama bear on Harry. They are all that matter to Monica now and she’s going to go out kicking and screaming to protect them.

Monica Sells is stuck in an abusive relationship and reached out to Dresden because he’s the only one who could stop her husband. She can’t leave him. There’s no place she could go where Victor’s spell couldn’t reach her. No wonder she was so nervous around Harry at the start. If Victor found out, he would take it out on her and maybe even their kids. Fear is a hard thing to overcome.

Chapter 21

Monica sits down at the kitchen table and Harry leans against the counter. She doesn’t look at him, but tells him to ask whatever questions he wants. Harry asks if she’s related to Jennifer. Monica reveals Jennifer’s her little sister who “ran away to become an actress, but became a whore instead.” Monica always wanted her to stop being a prostitute, but Jennifer didn’t want to. Harry asks why she lied to him when she hired him.

“And tell me what, Monica?” I asked. I kept my voice soft. “Who killed your sister?”

Wind chimes tinkled outside. The friendly cow clock went tick, tick, tick. Monica Sells drew in a long, shuddering breath and closed her eyes. I saw her gathering up the frayed threads of her courage, knotting them up as tightly as she could. I knew the answer, already, but I needed to hear it from her. I needed to be sure. I tried to tell myself that it would be good for her to face such a thing, just to say it out loud. I wasn’t sure I bought that—like I said, I’m not a very good liar.

Monica squeezed her hands into tight fists, and said, “God help me. God help me. It was my husband, Mr. Dresden. It was Victor.” I thought she would dissolve into tears, but instead she just hunched tighter into her little defensive ball, as though she expected someone to start hitting her.

She sent Harry out to the lake house to find Victor because he was getting worse and worse and she was fearful for her kids. Monica explains that he wasn’t so bad in the beginning, he only rarely lost his temper with her and she thought kids would help calm him down. But then Victor discovered the magic about four years ago and things got worst. Monica realizes he was starting to go crazy. One night, he made her drink a potion. Victor wanted Monica to see the world the way he did. Harry realizes this is the ThreeEye drug.

She nodded. “And…I saw things, Mr. Dresden. I saw him.” Her face screwed up, and I thought she was going to vomit. I could sympathize. To have the Third Sight suddenly opened to you like that, not knowing what it was, what was happening to you; to look on the man you had wed, who had given you children, and to see him for what he truly was, obsessed with power, consumed by greed—it had to have been hell. And it would remain with her. Always. She would never find the memory fading, never find the comfort and solace of years putting a comfortable padding between her and the image of her husband as a monster.

Monica reveals that even though the experience with the drug was horrifying, she was addicted and wanted more. Victor was thrilled when he realized this and started to make more. He learned that emotions, both his and others, could help him make more of the drug. He got “investors,” the Beckitts. They had money and wanted revenge of Marcone for their daughter.

Monica talks about the rituals. Victor would close the circle, and she were just lost in a sea of lust and flesh. It was an escape for Monica. Victor brought in her sister who knew Linda. Tommy Tom was recruited, though Monica doesn’t know how. Things got better, Victor was making money and it took the pressure off for a while. But Victor started summoning demons, and things got darker. And then he start looking at their children, and Monica realized he wanted them. She breaks down crying. Harry gets her a glass of water, not sure what else to do.

If she heard me, it didn’t show. She sipped water, then continued, as if desperate to finish, to get the taste of the words out of her mouth. “I wanted to leave him. I knew he’d be furious, but I couldn’t let the children stay close to him. I tried to talk to Jenny about it. And she took matters into her own hands. My little sister, trying to protect me. She went to Victor and told him that if he didn’t let me leave, she’d go to the police and to Johnny Marcone. She’d tell them all about him. And he…he…”

Victor killed Jennifer and that’s why she came to Harry to stop him and protect her children. Monica tells him to go, she doesn’t want to see him die. Harry gets up and leaves and sees Monica’s daughter, Jenny. The girl asks if he’s the wizard, Harry Dresden. Harry nods and the girl makes him promise to help their mother.

She thought that over for a moment, studying me. Then she nodded. “My daddy used to be one of the good guys, Mr. Dresden. But I don’t think that he is anymore.” Her face looked sad. It was a sweet, unaffected expression. “Are you going to kill him?”

Another simple question.

“I don’t want to,” I told her. “But he’s trying to kill me. I might not have any choice.”

She swallowed and lifted her chin. “I loved my aunt Jenny,” she said. Her eyes brightened with tears. “Momma won’t say, and Billy’s too little to figure it out, but I know what happened.” She turned, with more grace and dignity than I could have managed, and started to leave. Then she said, quietly, “I hope you’re one of the good guys, Mr. Dresden. We really need a good guy. I hope you’ll be all right.” Then she vanished down the hall on bare, silent feet.

Harry leaves the Sells’ house and gets back into the cab he took out here. Harry is trying to think and is furious about the damage Victor has done to his family. Harry doesn’t know what to do next. Harry can’t turn to the police, Murphy might arrest him. He can’t turn to the White Council because of Morgan’s suspicions. Harry realizes he needs to confront Victor Sells and stop him without killing him with magic.

Harry remembers that Monica left one of Victor’s talismans with him. He could use it to rebound some of his powers back at Victor and tells the cabby to pull into a gas station parking lot. Harry decides to call Murphy. Carmichael answers and Harry learns that Murphy is searching his office and has an arrest warrant for him.

Harry hangs up and calls his office and Murphy answers. Harry explains that he knows who the killer is. Murphy is pissed, telling him its to late to talk. Harry tells her to stay out of his desk drawer, its dangerous.

“Murphy,” I said, trying to keep my voice even, “you’ve got to trust me, one more time. Stay out of my desk. Please.”

There was silence for a moment. I heard her draw in a breath, and let it out through her mouth. Then Murphy said, her voice hard, professional, “Why, Dresden? What are you hiding?”

I heard her open the middle drawer.

There was a clicking sound, and a startled oath from Murphy. The receiver clattered to the floor. I heard gunshots, shockingly loud, whining ricochets, and then a scream.

In a panic, Harry jumps back into the car and tells the cabby to get him to office as fast as possible.

My Thoughts

Victor Sells is a piece of shit!!!

His obsession with black magic destroyed his family. His own daughter thinks its a good thing if Harry kills him. Monica’s tale is heartbreaking. Like many abused women, she actually explains away his anger in the beginning. She said Victor just wanted to be successful, to provide for Monica and he would get frustrated and take it out on her. And like every other woman in this situation, she had to hit bottom before she would seek out help.

Monica’s kitchen, decorated with cows, appears to be her safe place. She is constantly looking at her various cow figurine and they seem to provide her with strength. Victor seems like the type of guy that thinks his wife’s place is in the kitchen and probably stayed out of there as much as possible.

Hopefully Monica reached out for help before its too late for her and her children.

Jennifer Stanton was killed because she was trying to protect her older sister. Poor girl. I would say she was the stronger of the two. I bet her and Tommy were going to go to Marcone. Tommy would know he can be reasoned with.

For all the disdain that Monica shows for Jennifer’s lifestyle, she named her daughter after her.

Well that talisman of Victors turns out to be dangerous. Good luck Murphy, cavalry’s on the way.

Click her for Part 8 of the reread!

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