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(This is the 16th book in a 20 book series…so here be spoilers, aargh, beware. They’re for the series, not this book. )
Harry Dresden is my problematic fave. I’m well aware that if he were a real, non-magical person the crime-solving, wizard-for-hire hero of the Dresden Files would probably be a creepy neckbeard in the local gaming shop–the one with the “edgy” jokes and wandering eyes. In a lot of ways, Harry is the peak of mediocre white dude wish fulfillment fantasy–a geek with more force than talent, surrounded by better people than him, who is still somehow accorded phenomenal cosmic power and hot babes everywhere he turns. ⠀
But man does he have some great stories, some witty comebacks, and an amazing supporting cast. The Dresden Files are action-packed, magical fun, and even though I can see some very real problems with their protagonist, I still drop everything I’m reading whenever we get an new installment and immediately devour it.
Over the course of 16 books and a dozen short stories Harry has endured a lot of pain and done a lot of growing up, so perhaps I’m being a bit unfair. After previously dying, coming back to life, becoming a vassal of the fae, raiding Hades and becoming a full time dad (among other things), Harry has become darker and more complex by the time we get to this book. So has the alternate Chicago he lives in, leading to the titular Peace Talks between two opposing otherworldly alliances–the Unseelie Accords, which includes Harry, the White Council of Wizards, and most of his assorted friends, allies, and enemies vs. the Fomor, an entirely new and otherworldly threat first mentioned in Ghost Story but as of yet not too terribly fleshed out. ⠀
This leads Harry and Co.–well, nowhere, really. After introducing the idea of the talks, the book shifts and suddenly becomes a jailbreak caper, introduces a new big bad villain, and ends on a weird cliffhanger. All our favorite characters show up and quip their way through an action sequence or a pep talk, but plotwise nobody does much and the book doesn’t really seem to go anywhere but in familiar circles. It tries to break away from them with the new villain but it doesn’t really hook the reader in the way it’s meant to. Speaking of which, that villain is an overpowered disappointment. I realize it’s hard to keep upping the stakes consistently throughout a series that is meant to span 20 books, but at the rate it’s going the only thing left for Harry to do in book 20 will be to literally punch out Cthulu.⠀
While it was nice to see the Dresden gang together again and Butcher is a great storyteller, this is one of the weaker entries in the series. Fans waited for almost 6 years for what feels like half of a book and I was annoyed by its lack of resolution and incompleteness. I’m glad we get the next book in September–hopefully it’ll pack a harder punch.⠀
3 stars and a magic potion to Peace Talks.
(Thanks for reading, beautiful people! Even though this book wasn’t my favorite, the Dresden files series is a lot of fun and you can see the whole thing HERE. Also, this blog is an affiliate of Bookshop and any purchases made from clicks will result in a commission being earned. Go forth, buy books, and be happy.)