November 14, 2012

Review: Proven Guilty, by Jim Butcher

Author: Jim Butcher
Title:  Proven Guilty
Series: Dresden Files (#8)
ISBN: 9780451461032
Publisher: Roc (February 1st 2006)

Buy your copy: Paperback | Kindle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's no love lost between Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, and the White Council of Wizards, who find him brash and undisciplined. But war with the vampires has thinned their ranks, so the Council has drafted Harry as a Warden and assigned him to look into rumors of black magic in the Windy City.

As Harry adjusts to his new role, another problem arrives in the form of the tattooed and pierced daughter of an old friend, all grown-up and already in trouble. Her boyfriend is the only suspect in what looks like a supernatural assault straight out of a horror film. Malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in Chicago, but it's all in a day's work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and a talking skull named Bob...” GoodReads’ blurb

It takes talent to keep a series going strong through eight books, but Butcher manages it. Frankly, at this point I thought there was nothing else I could say, nothing new beyond “one of the best urban fantasies ever”, but I think I’ve found something to comment:

Continuity and innovation. I think those are Harry Dresden’s angular stones. As I’ve written before, the world by this point is so vast and yet so coherent that it feels entirely real for the reader. Things happen, and they cause the world to change. But side characters also change while we’re not looking, just like real people is wont to do, and each of those changes is understandable and logical. The result? There’s always something new, unexpected but foreshadowed.

In this instance, the new item would be Michael’s older daughter, who gets mixed up in Harry’s first mission as a Warden. She’s just hit puberty and she comes from a picture perfect household—as you might know, one of the best backgrounds ever for the worst cases of rebellious teens. I believe a girl like her would face the troubles she does and I entirely buy her reaction to them. The way it all entwines with Harry’s own maturity? That’s the magic. That little by little, step by step, Harry changes and grows without stopping being Harry.

If I had one complaint about Proven Guilty it was Dresden’s love life. He realized in the previous book that he felt something for Murphy... something beyond mere friendship. In this book, they talk about it. I loved that conversation, by the way. I could feel just the way Harry did (not telling what those feelings are for spoilery avoidance reasons). The only issue for me was that... Murphy knew. They both approached the conversation as something that had arisen and needed to be addressed—the need to define where they stood with one another. Where was the confession? Where were the awkward moments, the unveiling of feelings?

I’d have liked that. I hope I’ll get more emotion in the following volume.

In any case, this is a great addition to the Dresden Files, once more performed expertly by James Marsters, and I will be reading the next book shortly. Or rather, listening to it.

1 comment:

  1. I need to start this series soon. I watched the TV show when it was on but didn't even know it was a book series until after they canceled it.