• The Good: Fast-paced, funny, and full of magic
  • The Bad: At the ninth book in the series, it’s not as exciting as it once was
  • The Literary: Great examples of hardboiled detected tropes

Harry Dresden, wizard and private investigator in modern-day Chicago, has another mystery on his hands. Someone is abducting and killing Wiccans, those with a small amount of power but not enough to officially become wizards. Harry connects the string of unrelated suicides, but as the investigation continues, evidence points to Harry’s half-brother, psychic vampire Thomas, as the murderer. Without revealing their true connection, Harry fights to clear his brother’s name.

It takes a certain kind of series to keep readers coming back again and again for an ongoing series, and Harry is just the right combination of wizard-next-door, self-deprecating joker, old-fashioned chivalrous action hero. My favorite part of this installment is Harry’s budding relationship with his new apprentice. He’s overprotective and angry and not quite doing it right, but he cares for her. He has also personally vouched for her, so if she uses her magical powers illegally again it’s his life as well as hers. I also really enjoy the mystery and tensions leading up to finding Thomas, but it is over too soon. Also, James Marsters reading the audiobook is, quite frankly, one of the reasons I keep coming back.

The later half of the book is fine Dresden material, but lacks novelty. Plot lines built up in previous novels surrounding the various supernatural factions come together, particularly the White Court and the Red Council. Harry also still has a fallen angel’s shadow in his head, trying to convince him to accept unimaginable power at a price. Harry’s love life is always a key feature. He’s been unlucky for the last four years, but the appearance of Harry’s first love, Elaine, in this installment doesn’t add the tension it could have.

Recommended for fans of urban fantasy and humorous supernatural action!