Blood Rites (Dresden #6), by Jim Butcher

  • TITLE: Blood Rites (The Dresden Files #6)
  • AUTHOR: Jim Butcher
  • PUBLISHER: Orbit (UK)
  • PUBLICATION DATE: 3rd August 2004

Blood Rites delivers everything Dresden fans have come to expect—and then some.

Harry finds himself working on the set of a porn film, a favour to Thomas—yes, we get to see Thomas again, and this time, much like Michael and even the Alphas have had “their” books, Blood Rites is Thomas’—and whether he’s fond of the idea or not, he needs the money. Besides, people are dying and at the suggestion of a viciously powerful entropy curse, Harry can’t ignore the request. Plus, he does owe Thomas one.

The plot thickens, as readers have come to expect from the later volumes of The Dresden Files. The humour and light-hearted inserts are still there, but Blood Rites picks up where Death Masks left off in regards to the drama, tension, and thrills, all delivered at a break-neck pace.

When I reviewed Death Masks I said it was the heaviest Dresden yet. Blood Rites is laced with the same heaviness, yet, there are revelations that bring Harry at least some semblance of happiness following the gut-wrenching ending of Death Masks. However, there apparently must always be balance, and through his own choosing (although it can be argued that given the circumstances, he has little choice, in his own eyes) he loses something as equally precious as what he gains throughout Blood Rites.

I seem to have particularly affinity with the even-numbered Dresden books: I loved Fool Moon, Summer Knight was my favourite, and Blood Rites was excellent. Although I won’t rate it higher than Summer Knight that’s only because it was a different brand of awesome to Summer Knight. Blood Rites read in a similar fashion to both Storm Front and Fool Moon in that we see a return of Harry “working” on a case, instead of working by circumstance: it was a welcome return and worked perfectly in the setting. It also allowed Butcher to allow Harry to build his life back up to some level of normality after the harsh, tumultuous previous instalments.

That isn’t to say that Blood Rites was an easy ride for Dresden: it’s not. With Mavra back on the scene, and with Kincaid making a return—this time employed by Harry—there are plenty of issues for Dresden to stress about—and not least of all the fact that through his meddling, he’s about to have one hell of an entropy curse directed his way.

The title of Blood Rites is particularly apt: we’ve got vampires left, right and centre, family reunions and revelations, all topped off with Harry finally learning more of the truth about probably the single person he’s never truly known: his mother, Margaret LaFey. Yet, there are clearly more secrets and buried truths—even Harry knows that—and it’s made clearer and clearer as the Dresden Files progress, that the truth will be revealed along the way, regardless of what it is.

Butcher can’t do much wrong in The Dresden Files by now: if you like them, you’re a fan and you’re with him all the way. If you dislike them, then you’re probably never going to warm to Harry or Butcher’s brand of urban fantasy. I can’t see the setup, setting, character-styling, or delivery changing much as the series progresses—and nor would I want it to. The series is as strong as it is because Butcher merely writes as he’s written all along, never compromising Harry or his cases to fit in with whatever trend is currently hot in urban fantasy, a genre that can be overly trendy at times, as it’s likely one of the more accessible sub-genres of fantasy for readers presently reading outside the genre.

Blood Rites was a thrill-a-minute (and not just on-set of the film…!) packed with real characters, deep and far-reaching plotlines, and the usual Dresden magic. It’s been my second favourite Dresden, and that’s only because Summer Knight had fae. That this, this one does have Thomas, and from the second we meet Thomas in Grave Peril, I knew he’d been an easily underestimated, kick-ass character. And, he really is.

Butcher, please, just keep doing what you’re doing; it’s a beautiful thing.

5/5

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