Lately I've been caught in some type of Jim Butcher fever dream.
After finding the first 6 installments of Harry Dresden to range from okay to mostly enjoyable, book 7 came a long and hooked me like a series hasn't in a really long time. And it's a good, good feeling.
For me, I think Harry's slow transition from a lonely, shy and intensely private person to a lonely, shy, intensely private person with friends stepped up Butcher's story telling game. What was once witty and humorous dialogue with intelligent sleuthing and awesome action becomes EXTRA brilliant with all the added heart of Thomas, Mouse, et al.
And for me, all of Harry's wisdom resonates more genuinely because of those relationships. Self-reflection can only get you so far - sometimes you need someone to point out your blind spots. I found Harry to be insufferably self-recriminating in several of the first books. The broader inclusion of several characters, and his growing relationships, meant that SOMEONE could tell Harry to get over himself already. Huzz-freaking-ah.
I'm going to include some favorite quotes here because I highlighted the snot out of these books and what else am I gonna do with that effort?
“Listen to me,” I snarled. “We are not going to die!”
Butters stared up at me, pale, his eyes terrified. “We’re not?”
“No. And do you know why?” He shook his head. “Because Thomas is too pretty to die. And because I’m too stubborn to die.” I hauled on the shirt even harder. “And most of all because tomorrow is Oktoberfest, Butters, and polka will never die.” (Dead Beat)
“Then what’s the point?” I snarled, suddenly furious. My voice bounced around the chapel in rasping echoes. “What good is it to have power enough to kill my friend’s family, but not power enough to protect them? What the hell do you expect from me? I’ve got to make these stupid choices. What the hell am I supposed to do with them?” “Sometimes,” he replied, his tone serious, “you just have to have faith.”
I laughed, and it came out loud and bitter. Mocking echoes of it drifted through the vast chamber. “Faith,” I said. “Faith in what?”
“That things will unfold as they are meant to,” Father Forthill said. “That even in the face of an immediate ugliness, the greater picture will resolve into something all the more beautiful.
He finished off the little flask and then rose. He put it away and put his collar back on. “I’m afraid I’m not the one you should ask.” He put a hand on my shoulder and nodded toward the altar. “But I will say this: I’ve been on this earth a fair while, and one way or another, this too shall pass. I have seen worse things reverse themselves. There is yet hope for Molly, Harry. We must strive to do our utmost, and to act with wisdom and compassion. But we must also have faith that the things beyond our control are not beyond His.” (Proven Guilty)
We still hadn’t learned, though, that growing up is all about getting hurt. And then getting over it. You hurt. You recover. You move on. Odds are pretty good you’re just going to get hurt again. But each time, you learn something. Each time, you come out of it a little stronger, and at some point you realize that there are more flavors of pain than coffee. There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind—graduating, taking the next step forward, walking out of something familiar and safe into the unknown. There’s the big, whirling pain of life upending all of your plans and expectations. There’s the sharp little pains of failure, and the more obscure aches of successes that didn’t give you what you thought they would. There are the vicious, stabbing pains of hopes being torn up. (White Knight)
Fucking terrifying, that’s what. So terrifying that I couldn’t summon up a single wiseass comment, and that just doesn’t happen to me.(Small Favor)
One of the coolest things the Dresden Files in general is that flawed Harry and his cast of flawed characters strengths are proven in very different ways when they come together to defeat the bad guys, and it wasn't until well into the 9th or 10th book that I saw all these incidental events and characters working their way into some larger story arc. I kind of got chills once I fell into that realization. This isn't some random story telling with no real reason for setting up a time and place. Butcher wasn't sitting around going "what kind of trouble can I create for Harry in this book?". This is actually going places and with each installment a piece of the bigger puzzle.
Butters shook his head. "You are a rare kind of crazy, man." (Turn Coat)
Hell's Bells, Harry certainly is and I'm loving it.
On a personal funny (and probably creepy, but I try not to think about that too much) note, Jim Butcher is purportedly from/living in my general vicinity. Of course, I have no real idea if he actually is around town, but last weekend I might have spent a few extra minutes making sure I looked decent on our trip to the bookseller and other places. I might have insisted we go to the bookstore one town over. Just in case, you know, a random photo opportunity would arise. I might have stuck a book in my bag with a sharpie.
I might of caught some serious fan girl sickness. I said fever-dream, right?
The good news is that I've given up random sightings/stalking and decided to look for an event next year to get a couple sigs. Much saner. I'm very proud of my personal growth. (I might of actually realized I probably wouldn't recognize him since he doesn't, probably, wear a name tag).