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Storm Front: B-
Fool Moon: C
Grave Peril: A-
Summer Knight: B
Death Masks: A
Blood Rites: B+
Dead Beat: A-
Proven Guilty: B
White Night: C+
Small Favor: A
Turn Coat: A
Ghost Story: B+
Side Jobs: B-
Yeah, we liked Ghost Story a lot. We think we're in the minority here. We think this book scared the fans. It was sad, long, and the main character was dead. We think the positive reaction to Cold Days among fans is relief that the series they once loved hasn't changed forever. Still, we think Ghost Story was a more satisfying book. Yeah. the ending was frustrating, but it was also exciting. Plus, the twist at the end of Ghost Story (who killed Harry) knocked us on our asses. That book stayed with us longer and felt less like filler that had to happen in order to further Butcher's overall arc. Ghost Story was a story, and a very human one. Cold Days involved getting all the pieces in a chess match to where they needed to be.
We love books that deal with the White Council, the Denarians/Knights, necromancy/the dead, Marcone, cops, vampires, and family. We don't like when Butcher focuses on faeries. It's only tolerable when, like in Summer Knight and Proven Guilty, the White Council shows up to get in on the action, if only temporarily. We hate faerie so much. First of all, it's one long Jim Butcher boner, because every woman in faerie is unbelievably beautiful (as opposed to every other woman in this series...oh wait. Every woman is attractive in Harry Dresden's world. He must be a magnet), and he goes on and on and on about it. We're straight chicks, so it doesn't do much for us. We can't imagine that guys would rather read about hot girls than look at them. We do like the Faerie Mothers though. They are creepy.
Unfortunately, but predictably due to the last book and this book's title, this one was all about faeries. Faery Queens. Bleck. Dull. Too inhuman and cold. Cold Days indeed. Fix is the sole faerie character who actually invites sympathy, and we were grateful for his presence and actions in this one. In fact, let's keep going with what we liked. First of all, we too are grateful that the main character of the series is alive again. We liked Mab's idea of physical therapy. We liked everything to do with the island. Demonreach's purpose is mega-cool and sure to cause trouble with the White Council, which is what we love. We also liked everything involving Mac. Who is he?!! We liked the Outsider's psychic attacks. We liked Kringle. We liked Bob's Firefly reference that Harry didn't understand. We liked the good plotting.
We liked the scene with the Gatekeeper and the revelations there. It made faerie seem a lot more important, and that's needed if we have to see faeries so dang much. We liked Harry's reflections and observations about the nature of power and temptation. We liked Bob's new "movie projector" capabilities. The exposition between Bob and Harry could get old in previous installments, and now Butcher has a tool to make these conversations hilarious. We like that Harry's allies continue to be un-annoying and helpful. We liked Harry's romantic choices. We're not gonna say who (although you can probably guess) we never ever ever ever want to see together, but there's a couple that can't happen, and it was addressed in this book. Gross. Icky icky never never.
Most of all, we like the way this book picked up threads and pieces from the last books and continued them. It was like LOST, dropping hints and plot points for the future, and then actually picking them up. The continuity is great. We got answers to questions that were raised in the first book. Things we glossed over as unimportant in, say, Proven Guilty, turned out to be fairly pivotal. Butcher is great at world building and creating a puzzle. He's going to great lengths to drop pieces everywhere, much like in the Harry Potter series when Rowling laid down hints and then picked them up again, making everything tie together almost perfectly. Finally, Harry's reunion with Thomas was a highlight.
Now for what we hated. It was a lot. 1) No Maggie, Michael, Marcone, or Ebenezar. Three of these are people who, emotionally, should have been there to see Harry come back and react to it. Marcone is just awesome. We guess Butcher is saving these reunions for later, but ugh. We've already waited a year. 2) No one was surprised enough to see that Harry was alive except for Thomas. Sure, there are reasons why Karrin and Molly reacted almost the same way as if a neighbor had come back from Cabo, but why have those reasons? Why kill and bring back a main character and not take full advantage of the shock, awe, and tears? 3) The status of the Winter Knight and one of the queens by the end of the book. We guess we'll be seeing more fairies! Joy. 4) Too many fight scenes. Those are great to watch and boring to read.
5) The "little folk." Does anyone else find them completely annoying in every way? Yeah, they are helpful and good in small doses, but they were in this book too much. 6) The new characters Lacuna and Sarissa. Sarissa is like Susan 2.0 in that she is just bland and brave. 7) This installment didn't show us anything we haven't seen from this series before, except for the revelations of what's been going on in previous books. This type of story, adventure, and interaction is all old hat.
8) Not as much tension. 9) Not a surprising enough ending or evil plot. 10) Molly was jerked around too much, as usual, and the development in her character since the last book was a little sudden. 11) We got bored during the climax. 12) The Redcap. So grating! He should have died early on. 13) Some sexism. 14) While there was a reason for them, we didn't enjoy Harry's rape-y thoughts. Lots of women have been raped, and it doesn't seem fair to make them read these thoughts in a favorite book series.
15) This Winter Knight mantle scared Harry for a reason. There is a chance it can corrupt him and has already seeped into his brain a little. Now, we've already seen this with Lasciel and know how it will turn out, but we're not loving it right now. Lasciel tempted with power. The mantle tempts with sex and animal instincts (like rape, which is distinct from sex). We're afraid that it will turn out to be an excuse for Butcher to have his main character act like an evil pig and still technically be a good person and hero. We don't want to see Butcher's darkest fantasies, so we hope it's not like that.
(It reminds us of when Anita Blake got an excuse to be really slutty after getting something called the ardeur in another series. That completely ruined that series.) This mantle temptation needs to come and go, quickly. We're tolerating it only because we think it will start drama with the other wizards, and we love wizard drama. 16) Toward the end, we just wanted to finish it already. After waiting for a year for this. 17) Harry is still creating problems for himself. 18) This book was good for the overall, 23-book plot, but not for the characters. And we only get obsessed with things when we love the characters.
Edit based on internet surfing: 19) Lucyzephyr pointed out that in chapter 48, Butcher basically said that Lily being attractive would obviously lead to her being a victim. Not only physically attractive, young people are raped. That statement is messed up. We agree with this tumblr that even though the story gave a reason for these thoughts and fantasies, there were other ways to show dark, primal urges, and there was no reason for Butcher to have eight rape fantasies or for them to be as detailed as they were. Entertainment that references rape affects society. It went past what was necessary. Also, THERE WAS a gang rape scene in Grave Peril. We KNEW we read that right. How is that even a question?
Overall, our expectations for this book were low, since we knew it would involve Winter Court stuff, and we were STILL disappointed. The book was fine. We're just glad it's over so Harry can move onto other subject matter. We hate that we have to wait another year to get the book we would like to have had on Tuesday. We wanted more emotion, but a lot of that has been set up for next time (Maggie, Fix, Molly, Michael), so we're not worried that, eventually, we will get what we want. For now, meh.
Book grade: C
But we still love this series.