I am a big fan of fantasy, a big fan of crime and mystery novels, and a big fan of sarcastically dry characters. “Storm Front”, on the surface, absolutely ticks all those boxes. We’ve got a sarcastically dry wizard who consults with the Chicago police department when murders don’t make sense in the traditional manner. I absolutely love, love that premise! And I did go in knowing that Harry, as an MC, is written to be chauvinistic, and have been assured that he, as a character, gets better in that regard, so I tried to not let that bother me as I was reading. So why did a book that ticks so many of my boxes end up being kind of… meh for me?
Here’s the thing: I really do like watching and reading a variety of crime related media, both fiction and nonfiction. What this does is, it makes me good at spotting twists. I don’t TRY to do this, it just happens. So, it’s really hard for thrillers or mysteries to really surprise me, but I always hope that they do. For as fun as some of the scenarios and situations Harry found himself in, I called the ending and the “mystery” at 46% into this book. I’m sure others who actually look and want to guess the mystery will get it much faster, because the ending wasn’t surprising to me in the least. I was buddy reading this with a friend and so I made a note of when I came up with my prediction to compare it with them later, that’s how I know just when and how accurate my prediction was come the end of the book. So, if you want a real twisty, edge of your seat mystery: this is not it. But was the inclusion of magic fun? Heck yes! Plus, the author seems to really know his stuff when it comes to actual magic and summoning, and I really appreciate when authors do that, especially in urban fantasies.
Unfortunately, this book also leans heavily on some tropes that are, personally, not my favorites. For instance, I am not a fan of when, in crime mysteries, characters immediately suspect the MC of the crime for no other reason other than drama. Because of this element, certain characters in the book become painfully dense and obtuse; they don’t stop to think about the crimes, they just decide Harry has done them and are determined to get him for it. In a book that involves detectives and consultants, I’m sorry but there has to be evidence or a reason for these beliefs beyond “tension” or else it just annoys me. Same goes for including characters and situations that are used simply for comic relief and have absolutely no bearing on the plot, not even as a type of red herring. Were these characters fun? Yes, at times (looking at you, Bob), but I kept waiting for them to have a purpose to the book and they never did. Maybe they have bigger roles in the next book in the series, but if they hadn’t been included at all in “Storm Front” I wouldn’t have minded, either. And I know it's been said a million times, but I'm still going to mention it: this book is written completely for the male gaze. All the women in this book are hot and need rescuing from our "good guy" wizard. Even hardcore vampire queens have their "delicate feelings" walked all over by Harry, and boy doesn't he just feel like such the biggest jerk! It's icky... But, like I said, I've been told this factor gets better/goes away in later books, so... yay?
Writing this review, it looks like I didn’t enjoy this book at all. But I did! Kind of. Honestly though, it was just ok. Nothing was that surprising, Harry was too unlikable at times to outweigh the dry sarcasm that I generally enjoy in MC’s. The setting was cool and I liked the magic and how the world Harry lives in and “our world” intersect, but the meat of the plot was a bit too predictable by the end. I didn’t dislike the book to where I wouldn’t continue with the series, I absolutely may come back to the Dresden Files one day. But the ending was wrapped up well enough to where if I didn’t visit Harry again for a long time, I wouldn’t mind either, hence the shrug-worthy 3 star rating for this book. Oh well, if there’s a series like this that does all of this, better, please let me know!
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