Top critical review
"You're such a pig, Dresden."
Reviewed in the United States on July 3, 2020
Gumshoe wizard Harry Dresden is the ultimate multi-tasker. He's taking on the fae, rawheads, the Summer and Winter Ladies, vicious Outsiders, and the Little Fae (mind you, there is a difference). . .all to keep Chicago from being destroyed when a supernatural island in Lake Michigan explodes--unleashing a horde of naagloshi (skinheads) to torment millions. (And the island, Demonreach, has a psychic connection with Harry.) And this lethal event will take place on Halloween night, of course, and the explosion is being triggered by malevolent forces who are summoning it from a different time. Confused? So am I. Which is why I give just 3 stars to COLD DAYS, the 14th installment of author Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series.
To fully "appreciate" this book, it's important for the reader to have read Summer Knight, the 4th installment in this series. In this volume, the reader is introduced to the Sidhe (Faeries) and their politics and machinations. The Sidhe consist of Summer and Winter, who are constantly at odds with each other, and both are ruled ruthlessly by Titania, the Summer Queen, and by Mab, the Queen of Winter and Darkness. In a previous installment Harry has reluctantly consented to be Mab's Winter Knight, and now that she has restored the wizard's mortality, she gives him her first command: Kill Maeve, the Summer Lady. . .and Mab's daughter. Only Maeve is immortal and can't be killed by a human--unless it's Halloween.
Over the course of saving Chicago, and trying to prevent Demonreach blowing up, and wrestling with his conscience about what to do about Maeve, Harry is reunited with some old friends: Thomas, his brother; Molly, his apprentice, who is an accomplished wizard herself; and Karrin Murphy, formerly of the Chicago PD. As they race to save the island--battling fierce foes both in and above the lake's water--Harry is constantly forced to make instant life-or-death decisions. . .and he's discovered something very concerning about himself: As Winter Knight, Mab has given Harry enormous power. But the power is dark and predatory--power he must resist.
**SPOILER ALERT!!** The chemistry between Harry and Karrin is becoming unmistakably romantic. But will they succumb to it? That's the cliffhanger going into the next installment.
COLD DAYS is an uneven, often meandering read that every now and then gives the reader a poignant moment, or a belly laugh from one of Harry's quips. But my goodness. With naagloshi, skinwalkers, Faeries, rawheads, shape shifters, Outsiders, svartelves, malks, the Hunt, the Erlking, and even freakin' Kris Kringle. . .there's just too many ghouls to keep track of. If I could give the author a single, simple suggestion:
Less is more.
~D. Mikels, Esq.