Okay, I admit the title is a little melodramatic, but gosh darn it, my world feels wrong. On one hand, I don’t know how I let this happen. On the other, I’m not sure how it took so long.
I’m finally up to date on The Dresden Files.
If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it follows Harry Dresden, a wizard operating as a private investigator in Chicago. Harry is aware that most people won’t believe that he’s a wizard, but that’s okay, because it gets him enough intrigue that he gets business. The books begin by following one case at a time, and eventually begin to weave more complicated stories that carry over from book to book.
I began reading the books a few years ago when I wanted a light, easy read. In the last six months or so I found myself becoming obsessed with getting to the next volume. I bought up the ones I saw at Half-Price Books and downloaded the ones I didn’t on Audible. After 3 years, I’m now where the fans who began reading Harry Dresdon’s books were 14 years ago:
Waiting for the next one.
This must be what it felt like to be one of those people who picked up the Harry Potter books in 2007. Five volumes that everyone else had read were already released. You easily go from one to the next, finding yourself more interested and ending on a heartbreaking death – only to realize there’s more story, but no more books available. Everyone else has grown accustomed to eagerly devouring a volume and then waiting sometimes years for the next, but you aren’t. You’ve forgotten what it’s like to read any other book, and while you know there are others out there, right now, you’re not sure how to go to another story, you’re still engrossed in the last.
Talk about dramatic, right?
Reasons I Love The Dresden Files:
1.) Jim Butcher does a fantastic job laying the groundwork for future plots and character developments long before they occur. We’ll learn a detail about a character, or some part of the story will go unexplained, a mystery to Harry at the end of the volume, and then that little thing you’ve nearly forgotten will pop up a book or two later.
2.) Harry Dresden is a big ol’ geek. He frequently uses Star Wars analogies and metaphors. I like that Harry clearly has an interest in something – Star Wars – and it isn’t something that is mentioned once as a fun shout-out to the geek culture, to whom many of the readers belong. When he’s teaching, he’s Yoda. Want to know how big his dog is? Bantha-sized. It’s not done so often as to be annoying, but enough to fit the character of someone who happens to really, really like Star Wars.
3.) Magic and fantasy. I love fantasy, but I’m really particular about it. A Discovery of Witches? Hated it, all for a couple of scenes that seemed unreasonable. The Chronicles of Narnia? Too childish and blatantly religious* for me. Give me some Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, American Gods. I like The Dresden Files because the magic has limits. There’s also a lovely, scientific character named Waldo Butters who doesn’t quite find scientific explanations for Harry’s abilities, but he gets close enough. When Harry is given a “gift” from a fairy queen of being far stronger than the average man, Butters hypothesizes that Harry isn’t actually stronger. He’s using the sort of adrenaline-given strength that all humans have, and that if he pushes himself, he’s going to seriously harm his body. Fantasy that takes place in the modern world needs grounding, and characters like Butters help these books feel grounded.
4.) Jim Butcher has amazing hair. Gotta love a man with that writerly look:
What to do now?
I’m still feeling the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre, but I think I want to avoid wizards for now. Considering my recent jump into Game of Thrones, maybe I’ll give the A Song of Ice and Fire series another chance. My only hesitation is that I’m not sure I want to dive into another series right now either. I have a feeling if I try, I’ll have a hard time getting into it, my heart still too dedicated to Harry.
Final thoughts and questions:
Is anyone else a Dresden Files fan? Am I a lunatic for feeling like I’m going through withdrawal? Is it fair to love an author for his incredible long hair?
*I have a feeling someone out there is judging me for saying I like a series about a wizard in Chicago more than I liked The Chronicles of Narnia, so let’s get a few things straight: 1. No disrespect to Narnia. I may not like the series, but I recognize its value in literature 2. Stop judging me, jerk. It’s possible to think something has value and not particularly enjoy it yourself. 3. Yeah, I said I don’t like how blatantly religious it is, right before saying I loved “American Gods.” If you’re confused about how I could like a book with “Gods” in the title after saying that about Narnia, then you’ve probably never read American Gods. Neil Gaiman is amazing. Go read it. Now.