The Dresdin Files: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
So the world kind of sucks as this is being written. Being laid off in the Covid 19 crisis, it becoming harder and harder to find a job in my field. So least to say I am hanging onto every penny. So I am becoming very selective with what I read. So when I saw the sixth book of the Dresden Files on a super sale, I had to get it. It was too good of a deal to pass. So here is my review of The Dresden Files: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher.
So what is this one about? This book continues to follow Harry Dresden, a wizard for hire who occasionally helps the police department with supernatural murder cases. He is offered a case by a vampire ally. Harry is skeptical because a number of vampires are out for his head. But this vampire, Thomas, has helped him numerous times in the past, so he goes against his gut to trust Thomas and take this job. The mystery is that a mysterious curse is attacking the set of an adult film shoot killing people on the daily basis. So Harry goes undercover on the job to try to stop it. In the process, he learns that Thomas’s sisters are working on the shoot and Harry gets tangled up in the Raith vampire family that leads to interesting twists, a shocking revelation, and eventually the killer.
Also while this happening Mavra, a vampire sorcerous and her clan are out to dispose of Harry. And Harry has had enough. He hires an assassin and his police friend Murphy to help raid Mavra’s hideout to get rid of her for good.
So the good and bad. Lets start with the good. The Raith family that makes up half of the cast this time around are called vampires in the book, but they actually are succubus. They are vampires that feed off of sex and lust until the soul is gone. And also a third of the book takes place at the porno studio. With these elements, I must applaud Jim Butcher. I must applaud him for using some real restraint. In the paranormal mystery genre so many authors would go nuts with this to make it steamy and sexy, bordering on erotica if not diving into it completely. I know a few female authors specifically who would have a field day, derailing the story entirely to focus on the erotic elements instead. Not only is there no erotica, there’s no objectification and everyone is so layered. There are brief moments where Harry falls under the spell of the female succubus, things are seen from the male perspective but it’s not degrading to the woman. All those women are portrayed as good people and so are the adult actor men. I was really surprised to find out Bobby turned out to be a sweet heart. So it was a really pleasant surprise that Jim used so much restrain from making things dirty and instead spent his effort to portray all these people in a positive light instead of using them as props to spice up the story.
Also I must say I like the tone of this story. It’s lighter. The last few books have focused on the tragic loss of Harry's girlfriend and politics of an oncoming war. But a lot of that is pushed to the side just for a good old fashion mystery, which was really nice. I like the quirkiness in this story and the fact that Dresden is puppy sitting through the whole adventure is just adorable. Then there’s the twist and it’s a really good one. If you have grown attached to Harry Dresden over the prior five books and felt sorry for the guy, you’ll probably love this this twist. It adds so much more to Dresden’s character and more to his backstory which had been spoon fed to the fan base over the years.
The bad? Very few of these books are perfect and this one has some flaws. And unfortunately its with Murphy this time around, which is such a shame because Murphy has been of my favorite characters in the series. As I switched over from the female led Anita Blake series to the Dresden Files, Murphy was in a way for me a way to fill in the Anita Blake hole in my heart as the tough female in the series. (I still miss the series. It was terrible to see that series morph into something awful.) But here I felt Murphy doesn’t get much respect. There was one strange scene where Murphy has to strip down to her panties to crawl through a hole to save some children and then continues to help in the fight without her pants on. Its very bizarre. It seemed to be done for no reason. I can’t even claim it was for the sake of sexualizing her because the book doesn’t do that. It’s just a very strange choice. But Murphy has a arch here. In this she’s a tough cop and everything else great, but is lonely as her social life is next to nothing. The loneliness makes her vulnerable toward the end among a male succubus and shows a struggle she has to fight to everything alive. But she’s knocked out at one point and that’s the last the reader sees of her. When everything is all said and done, its mentioned Murphy survived in an almost throwaway line as it focuses on the fate of the Raith family, the surviving members of the adult film, Harry himself and that assassin he hired. Murphy is hardly mentioned. Is there trauma from the vampire digging into her head and desires? Is she reassessing her life? Is she injured at all? It’s never explained, and it was really disappointing because she is one of the major characters in the series. I don’t know why Butcher did this. It’s just really disappointing.
Overall, this is a really fun book. The mystery is good. The twists are fantastic. Given the subject matter and the setting of the material, a surprising amount of restraint was used to not sexualize or objectify the characters and instead was used as an intriguing backdrop to an engaging cast of new characters. It’s a really good read. And six books in I am shocked that I still enjoying this. Jim Butcher is doing what other authors often can't. The story telling quality is still so high. So this is worth the read. Now go out and check it out.
4 ½ smoothies out of Five
Overall Rating: An Engaging Mystery with Some Jaw Dropping Twists and Magic.