Monday, August 23, 2010
Book Review: Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, Book 2) by Jim Butcher
Publisher: Roc (January 9, 2001)
The book starts with the loveable, hard-bitten, wizard detective Harry Dresden, having dinner with a sometimes-apprentice of his, that is picking the depths of his brain for dark magic. From there it takes a frenzied run from scene to scene, dragging poor Harry down the wrong rabbit hole further and further. Perhaps this one is a badger hole? (Do badger’s dig holes?)
The characters get more developed. There is mystery to uncover and there are some great battles. One action scene is particularly memorable, though it unbalances the flow of the book some by appearing midway through and overshadowing the ending. But then the ending isn’t this books strongest point anyway.
As you might guess by the title, or maybe not due to the play on words, werewolves are a big factor. For a fan of the mythical beast, this may either make the book fantastic, or make it blasphemous. There are four different types of werewolves, with one type composed of two varieties and a fifth revealed at the end (though you probably guess it for at least half the book—especially if there are any Eddings’ readers out there). Is that enough for ya? It was a little confusing to keep track of all the different types and was needlessly complex. If you look up loup-garou (one of the types) it is an actual term, but just means "werewolf" in French. There are another couple types that you’ll read of that are just made up (as far as I can tell). There’s nothing wrong with that, I was just so convinced by the book, that when I looked them up I fully expected them to mean the same in "real life" (I put that in quotes, because we all know there are no such things as real werewolves... Right? Anybody that raised their hand to contest that statement, please see a therapist.)
I’m starting to notice that Butcher follows the simple but effective premise to subject your characters to as much punishment as possible. Believe me, Dresden gets his fill.
This brings to mind the quote (not sure from whom) of how to do the Three Act Format. You’ve seen it elsewhere no doubt, but it makes me chuckle: Act 1: send your characters up a tree; Act 2: throw rocks at them; Act 3: chop the tree down.
Overall I liked this installment. It was often formulaic, and the magnificent, multitudinous variety of werewolves seemed a stretch, but it ultimately worked. I’d put it on nearly the same level with the first book, making me interested in reading more in the life of Dresden, but not until I put a couple more books under my belt first. I’d give it a 7 out of 10. (Keep in mind that I am a pretty tough reviewer. But then I feel that a 10 should be nearly unattainable and a 9 be reserved for only the very best. Which is why I disparage the 5 star format mostly used—really limits your options.)
If you haven’t read the first book in the series, I’d start there first. Read my review of Storm Front here.
For everyone else what did you think? I hear that Butcher more or less started the urban fantasy genre. Does that mean we should "thank" him for Twilight? No, no. Don’t hurt the man. He seems nice.