Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

I don’t think I would have ever read Storm Front, by Jim Butcher, if it was not for the book club. I do like urban fantasy and I do like some crime novels, but not usually the two together. It reminds me more of Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking which is the only other novel I’ve really read along this line and although I did enjoy it’s quirks I didn’t really care about the story.

The same goes for Storm Front. I enjoyed the quirks, I liked the interesting characters that were not human, I thought the main plot was readable and it was enough to keep me reading, but I did not have any curiosity for any side stories and there were a lot of little side stories or at least background dropping (possibly so the author could branch off and keep going with a series?).

I actually feel more compelled to rip into this novel then to share anything positive which I would prefer to avoid, but at the same time I just can’t get over some of the things about this novel. Why? Because I think the main character Harry Dresden is a tool.  I also can’t figure out why anyone would love this series, especially if they are a woman (unless they think it’s the right thing to be described by your sex). Yes I have heard that this series gets better, but how on Earth did the writer end up being published and becoming so popular after this first novel? I’ve read some excellent first novels in recent years and I just don’t see how it’s justifiable that Storm Front should do so well that a series will be born from it.

Why oh why does Jim Butcher have to summarise every piece of action that is going on in just about every chapter? Does he not realise that the people reading his book are actually reading his book? Or maybe he realises that his character Harry Dresden is such a tool and that his book is full of so much sexism that the reader may not want to stay focused on it. A summary every chapter is not going to help. Nor is a joke at the end of just about all of them either.

Sometimes I think the sexism is born from Butcher trying to put some sexuality into his story, trying to make it attractive, but it just turns around and bites him in the arse. It ends up making you wonder if Jim Butcher himself is a sexist pig who needs to get out there in the world and realise women are people, not sexual objects.

There’s also aspects of his writing that had me literally putting down the book every chapter and finding something else to do for awhile. I needed a break from it. It grated on my nerves by the last half. I noticed Butcher seems to pick a word to describe something at the start of a paragraph and by the end of it he repeats that word again. I was questioning where his thesaurus was.

Then there is the whole sexual gender thing going on which leads me to believe that Harry Dresden is a Gary Stu (there’s plenty of other aspects of the character, but I believe this is my tipping point). Yes there are other male characters, but the main characters that surround Dresden most of the time are female.

It is not all bad I did enjoy Bob who was refreshing. There was quite a bit of intrigue with the main story which I thought was a good plot idea, but at the same time it felt like the story was mainly focused on the character Harry Dresden which is understandable for an introductory novel. It also felt to me that the concept of the magical world and how the magic was used in the book was thought out really well because it did work together and in such a way that the magical concept makes sense for magic. So not all bad, but still enough to grate on my nerves.

  • Demographic: Adult fiction
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Reminds Me Of: Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison, but with a lot of sexism
  • Rating Out of Five: 2
  • Challenges: RIP V Challenge, Book Club Read

15 thoughts on “Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

  1. In book 3 alone he trusts susan to give him cpr (as part of a convoluted plan to kill the bad guy) even though she as a half vampire struggling with blood lust could very easily kill him. He also has to stop himself from acting on his impulses a few times cause he realizes that’s what the villains want. Also, murphy grows as a character (her initial anger was because she’s not only trying to fit into a male dominated world but is under pressure to succeed lest she get fired. when harry opens up and stops being secrative she becomes far more accepting.) In later books the worst thing he says is “I cannot understand women” and “she grunted like a man”. the first is more an admission of his own flaws while the second one could be sort of iffy (since grunting is generally considered poor form).

    the sexual descriptions is due to him having a libido problem.

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  2. Harry’s sexism gets him in trouble many times, and as time passes it’s nullified. At worst he can’t stand seeing people in trouble and this doesn’t stop him from not only recognizing that women are just as intelligent and capable as men, but also allows him to respect/admire them. The female characters do kick copius amounts of butt.
    Harry does grow and become more likable, believe me.

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    • That’s great to hear that the series grows so and Harry ends up doing so as well.

      I for one, as with some others, can’t stick with it long enough to discover that, but it’s to know that not only does the series’ reader base enjoy it as much as they do, but the character can change perspective which they’re reading it.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Well, this made for interesting reading. I have read this book, but so long ago that I entirely have forgotten most it…. I liked it, but still haven’t read on in the series. I was trying to remember the sexist elements, but it’s been too long for me to remember if they bothered me or not. That may be why I haven’t read on in the series… I can’t even remember that anymore!

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    • Wow you must have read it oh so long ago! The sexist parts were pretty apparent to me straight away, but I have a real problem with sexist characters and descriptions in modern day settings. Unless the story is about that than it’s different, but otherwise it drives me up the wall so I thought at first that it might just be me picking up on it from aversion to it. I’ve had conversations with a lot of different people about the book though and I haven’t been the only one so maybe it really is there….

      I take it you haven’t checked out the tv series then? I think there might be a comic book based on it too, but I’m not sure.

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  4. *Oops. First comment had a typo.
    Interesting review and interesting comments. I enjoyed this book a bit more (my review here), but there were a few qualms with it, too. The sexism is there, definitely, but I can’t help but feel that Dresden is changing throughout the series. The next book, Fool Moon, was actually pretty boring, I thought, but I think I’ll press on in hopes that the series is as awesome as I’ve heard.

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    • Don’t worry about the typo, we all make typos and mistakes anyway (I was actually trying to find it, but couldn’t). I had to fix up your link for you too because it wasn’t working properly.

      When I get a chance I’ll be checking out your review. I haven’t read the rest of the series, but have been told that it gets better. I don’t know though, I do really hate sexism in modern settings.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

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  5. I always wonder why it is that the simple act of reading a work of fiction seems to make people feel completely free to speculate on the personal character of the author. I mean, if I’m dissatisfied with the performance of my car, it would seem to be somewhat ridiculous to make a public statement about the personal character of the engineer who designed it, or the factory workers who assembled it.

    If you want to pan the book, by all means, do so. You’re perfectly capable of delivering biting and well-supported commentary upon the book and its flaws–and you do so very ably.

    But you leap wildly across the line between “critic” to “asshat” when you start speculating on my personality and personal foibles based on what is, I will point out again, a work of fiction. It undermines the far more viable portions of your criticism and reduces your credibility.

    Yes. Dresden is pretty damned sexist in this book. I think that’s fairly obvious.

    It’s also a fictional character. Distinctions are important.

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    • Wow Mr Butcher (or do you prefer Jim?) I would never have expected you to not only visit my blog, but to also comment on it. Don’t take me as completely naïve though as I do know that there are authors out there who will read reviews and blog posts about them and their work.

      I do appreciate you taking the time to not only read my thoughts, but to take the time out to share your opinion as well. Granted you’re putting me in my place, but I wouldn’t expect any less as I gather my opinion has offended you (even when you‘re calling me an asshat).

      I do apologise for any offence caused, but surely you can’t expect readers to never speculate on the writer behind the fiction? And any comment about your personality is just that; speculation for I don’t know you from a bar of soap. How on Earth could I state anything about your character when I don’t know it? Again it is all speculation which I know a lot of readers are wont to do.

      I am also not only a reader, but a writer and have a tendency to read between the lines, not just the fiction itself, but who wrote it and naturally I can’t help but speculate why someone writes what they write and how they write. It is a way of learning for me and analysing. Don’t students in Uni analyse the motives of the creator behind the piece of text they are studying? It is along the same lines and in my experience a writer can’t completely divorce their personality from their writing unless I’m completely mistaken. Do you find this so? And if so, how? I would truly wish to know and then perhaps if I’m proven otherwise I won’t speculate on the motives behind the piece.

      I know I’m not the first reader to comment and speculate on the motives of an author behind a sexist character. I may have been too harsh, but I am nothing if not direct in my blog which is showing my personality because it is my blog and it is my opinion and only opinion. I am not stating facts. I am speculating. I know also that a lot of authors (believe me I don’t just take crap out of thin air, but I do research and follow a lot of authors and their opinions too) who come across opinions and reviews that go against them, or they do not agree with, have decided to take it as a type of compliment because they may have written something that has frustrated or annoyed someone, but that work of theirs has also had an emotional reaction in the reader. Is that not a compliment?

      I’ll appreciate it if you do come back to reply, but of course I’ll understand if you don’t. I can imagine that you’re a busy person and I really do not expect you to comment again. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.

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  6. It’s too bad u didn’t like this. I absolutely love this series. And Dresden is one of my favorite characters lol. U should try the next one just to be sure 😉

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    • I’ve been told that it does get better and I figure it must if it’s been made into a television series and has such a wide audience. I’m curious to read on just to see that, but I also have such a backlog of books I’m actually looking forward to reading that I think it’s going to be one of those curiosities I’ll sate if I run out of books (pfft yeah right) or am in a certain mood.

      That and I want to learn more about Bob lol

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