Monday, September 11, 2017

REVIEW: Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #2)

Fool Moon
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Crime

My Ratings:
4/5 stars
R for strong language, violence, some gore, disturbing images, sexuality.
Recommend to fans of hard-boiled detective stories with a flair of the fantastic; clever use and meshing of mythologies.

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Summary (via Goodreads):
Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn't been able to dredge up any kind of work--magical or mundane.
But just when it looks like he can't afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.
A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses--and the first two don't count...

The Review:

A few years ago, I DNFed the first book of this series, Storm Front, despite an interesting concept and good story because it had way too much sexuality for my taste. That's always disappointing, right? I decided to give the second book of the series a chance for a couple of reasons. One, because I've gotten better at compartmentalizing when I read, skipping over the stuff I don't like so I can enjoy the stuff I do. It's a constant balance. But the big reason is because my friend Mage really enjoyed this series for its use of mythologies (something we discussed often) juxtaposed with the modern world.

I'm so glad I gave Fool Moon a try because I really kind of loved it. Mage was right; Butcher has a great way of using and meshing mythology and the modern world. What I love most is how many mythologies Butcher uses, implying in-story that ALL mythologies are true, instead of cherry-picking them or creating his own take on it. In a weird way, this actually makes Fool Moon feel more realistic. In this book, Harry Dresden is faced with a werewolf problem, but he quickly discovers it isn't just a werewolf problem. Butcher uses four different versions of werewolf from mythology and folklore and uses them as separate 'classes' of werewolf. Hello, ensuing chaos! So we have a lot of furry beasts running around this story.

Butcher's magic system, too, is an eclectic array of mythologies, folklore, and wizardry; everything from the Faerie courts to potion making to summoning lesser demons. And behind the mythology, we also have an interesting magic community at play. Though it lives secretly in the dark corners of the world, this magic community isn't in hiding from persecution or in fear. Instead, it's the 'real world' that refuses to see it as anything more than outdated mythos. As Dresden puts it, the rest of the world has bought into their new religion of Science, which effectively blinds them to any logic or proof of the magical that might touch their lives.

Fool Moon is full of gruesome murders, shady customers, hidden agendas, and great characters. I particularly love Murphy; police lieutenant of the Special Investigations Unit and someone who doesn't take any of Harry's crap, Murphy is a kick-ass female character I can get behind. She is tough as nails and quick on her feet. She and Harry rarely see eye to eye, but they (usually) find a way to work together -and I LOVE their banter.

Harry Dresden, despite his powerful wizard skills, is still kind of an Everyman when it comes to facing down terrifying evils; he wants nothing more than to run away, but he possesses such a strong determination to do good and fight evil, that he'll do it no matter what, and I am a sucker for this quality in heroes. I like, too, that Harry's attempts at chivalry in trying to keep the women around him out of danger might actually be more of a character flaw born of trust issues, because those chivalrous acts keep landing people in danger. People like Susan, his girlfriend/not girlfriend, who investigates the magic side of the world for a tabloid magazine; and people like Murphy, whose sole job is to protect innocent bystanders from the creatures in the shadows that Harry knows so well. I like this for Harry as both a strength and a flaw because chivalry is a good quality and one I highly respect and appreciate, but trust is a better one. Butcher has pitched these two strengths against each other and it demonstrates a thin line that Harry is walking, between 'protective' and 'overprotective', between strength and flaw. I'm very intrigued to see where Harry goes from here.

Which brings me to the last character I want to mention, Gentleman Johnny Marcone. Marcone is a gangster extraordinaire. Marcone is slime; I know that. I applaud Harry for never giving him the time of day, but still deigning to save him from the jaws of death. But I'm also intrigued by Marcone. I blame this on my love of The Blacklist's Raymond Reddington (talk about a character crush!), but I want to know more about Marcone and, more than anything, I want to see Harry forced to team up with him for a whole book to solve some nefarious magical goings-on.

To sum up Fool Moon, I say it has some fantastic characters, a gritty hard-boiled detective story, and a fantastic dose of dark mythology woven in.

I'm definitely reading forward in The Dresden Files for now and I'll keep you apprised.


  1. You know, I DNF'd Storm Front too although to be honest I wasn't very far into it. It was just a little too graphic and I don't know, the whole gangster angle didn't grab me? But I know lots of people like this series. And to be honest I do kinda want to try again. Maybe I should just compartmentalize- that's a great way of putting it- and read for the stuff I DO like, like the mythology angle and hidden magical community, etc.

    A lot of urban fantasy kinda relies on the fae or shifters or whatever having come out, as it were, but I always liked the idea of that world being real but no one generally knows it, better. Sounds like this is sort of like that.

    Anyway great review, thanks for sharing. I need to reconsider this series maybe.

    1. I'm still working on compartmentalizing, but I've got to admit, I've read a few great books I wouldn't have before because of it. With Fool Moon, it was maybe 70/30 what I liked and didn't like, so we'll see how books down the road go.