So you can read my books

Friday, June 6, 2014



I waited TWO YEARS for this continuation of the always excellent DRESDEN FILES.

I remember asking myself as I listened to the first half of this audio book:


I thought to myself:

"Has Jim Butcher become CHARLAINE HARRIS?"

I mean there was even a Charlaine Harris sex scene in it, written as if by someone other than Jim Butcher.

Is Jim just grinding out the remaining 5 novels to complete his contract?

The first half was difficult to "read" and depressing.  Jim seemed to have lost his fire.  Worse, it seemed unnatural for him as if a ghost writer were writing the chapters.

Jim's inane use of Parkour clashed with his angst of having become the Winter Knight and his grief over losing Molly, his apprentice, to Mab as the Winter Lady.

The deadly spirit of the cursed island upon which Harry lived now talked naturally not with great effort to put words into speech rather than just being as one with the land.

The longer I listened the more it seemed a ghost writer was mangling the prose of delicate scenes in clumsy fashion. 

Words and phrases never used before were inserting themselves into the narrative.

Prior comments from past books were written as if new.

If I hadn't been listening to the audio book and on a long blood run, I probably would have stopped.

{And Amazon what is it with charging $13 for the Kindle book when you charge $17 for the hardcover?}

THEN ...

I reached the second half, and it seemed as if Jim had gotten his rhythm back.

The emotions and characters were taunt, tense, and back to form.

The moment when Harry stumbles upon his maimed friend, Michael was Jim at his best.  You bled with Harry.  Michael was as wise and strong and kind as I remembered.

The Harry I knew was back ...

But it was too good to last:

Harry's meeting with his little daughter was so badly handled and unbelievable that it took me right out of what should have been a very moving moment.

The thing about urban fantasies ...

   the interpersonal exchanges have to be dead-on for you to suspend disbelief about the supernatural elements.

The cliffhangers started to become classic again, and I started to breathe a sigh of relief.

Jim has become famous for his ever-worsening cliffhangers as his tale progresses that,

with the next chapter, either become worse or become resolved with clever plot threads from earlier in the book.

In this novel, a chapter ends with a certain death, no way out trap.  I truly did not know how he was going to get Harry out of this one.

The next chapter began THREE DAYS EARLIER inserting a deus ex machina in the mix! 

Jim, the Way Back Machine is not a plot devise.  It is a cheat ... and lazy writing.

There have been several brewing problems passed from one novel to the next, becoming worse with each novel. 

Like a ticking time bomb, they grew in intensity, and the reader tensed, knowing the explosion was coming ... just not when.


And with this novel ... you guessed it: FIZZLE.

They were resolved off camera, unsatisfactorily, and unrealistically.

It really is too bad, for in the last half of this book, Jim has done some of his best writing.

But with all the flaws and mis-fires, reading this book was like riding in a Rolls Royce with bad spark plugs and rotten shocks.

I suppose I should just be happy that the 14 books before this one were excellent, right?



  1. I just started that book by Butcher, Summer Knight. I'm only in 20 pages,I usually give it more than that. Too early to tell if I like it.

    At this point, McCord still beats Harry Dresden as a main character.

  2. Yes I have - and have felt somehow personally betrayed. I do invest a lot of emtion in my reading don't I?

  3. I must confess that the only series I've read has been Charlaine Harris's. But at least her books have been pretty consistent in quality. Perhaps Jim Butcher was going through a bad spell in his personal life when he was writing parts of this book? Or maybe he's just burned out on his own books -- I couldn't say. Certainly a really good editor should have worked with him on the weak parts of his manuscript.

  4. D.G.:
    That's nice of you to say. :-)

    I'm sure Jim Butcher would feel differently!

    It's been awhile since I read SUMMER KNIGHT but I remember enjoying it. I enjoyed the next book, DEATH MASKS (concerning ths stolen shroud of Turin), even more --

    and many of the characters in SKIN JOB were introduced in DEATH MASKS.

    Elephant's Child:
    I invent a lot of emotion in my favorite books too so there is nothing to fear badly about! :-)

    And you stated it for me: I felt betrayed by an old friend. :-(

    I truly enjoyed Miss Harris's SHAKESPEARE series.

    And you may have hit upon the truth -- all of us go through bad seasons in our lives and they effect our work.

    Also a trusted editor may not have been able or willing to over-see Butcher's new book.

    He claims not to be burned out on his books since he has the end in sight. As you say: who knows?

    Thanks for visiting. I always like your comments. :-)

  5. He forgot to use his beta readers, clearly.

    I've loved his books in the past. But once I got used to 3dollar books on my tablet...I haven't bought a traditionally published author in five years. Funny thing...I still have Turn Coat sitting on my shelf in paper to read. I don't know if I can read on paper anymore.

  6. R. Mac:
    Apparently so! His prior 14 books were all excellent -- some more so than others -- but all great.

    I prefer to read on my Kindle as well. I have a friend who, if he cannot find a book on Kindle, will not read it.

    I still like leather-bound books for classics. :-)