Ordinarily, I’d offer a complete breakdown of each of the stories in a short story anthology series. I’m not going to do that here, for two reasons. The first is because I’m woefully behind on reviewing the entirety of The Dresden Files series. I didn’t have a blog when this series began, and I’ve not yet gone back to review these properly. I have only reviewed Working for Bigfoot, thus far, a quick anthology of three short stories, all of which are included in this collection, as well as other tales published in other anthologies and a new story. The second is because I almost feel like at this point that it’s preaching to the choir. But having said that, let me talk a bit about this for those who have yet to explore this series.
The first thing to understand is that this is the second compilation of short stories. Like it’s predecessor, Side Jobs, the stories within take place between the novels, and Butcher introduces each story telling you where these line up. Spoilers will abound because the story continues on, so if you’ve not read the novels, don’t read the shorts.
The second thing is that this collection offers something wonderful that we don’t always get: first person narrations from some of the other characters in the series. Even Mouse gets his time to shine. Seriously, it’s awesome.
When it comes to fantasy, I am an overly harsh critic. High fantasy exists under the shadow of Tolkien. Everything out there is in direct response to him, either in appreciation or in defiance. I can’t not see it. When it comes to urban fantasy, I know the legends and lore so well that I demand the highest quality. By that, I mean the author damn well needs to do the research. I know when they fake it. Jim Butcher writes like an old school pulp novelist. His characters are fun, they build upon one another, and the world unfolds with consequences. More than that, he has done the research. Nothing about Dresden is half-assed or wishy-washy. When Butcher unleashes folklore or spellcraft, it makes actual sense to what our real world has to offer in terms of the stories humanity has been telling for thousands of years. Old legends, new twists, and some of the most imaginative and gutsy storytelling in fiction today, all told with a snarky sense of humor and a finger on the pulse of popular culture. You can’t get better than that with urban fantasy… except for having the next story in the series.
If you get this in audio as I did, James Marsters is still as incredible as ever, and he’s joined by a full cast for stories told in other POVs.