Title: Cold Days
Author: Jim Butcher
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Warning: This review contains spoilers for previous books in The Dresden Files series.
After Harry Dresden was murdered, he returned to the mortal world as a ghost. Now, he’s back in the flesh, but still not quite the same as he was before. It was Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness, who kept him alive, and she has claimed him as her new Winter Knight. As Harry tries to stay true to himself and stop the encroaching winter from changing who he is, he must find a way to accomplish the impossible in order to satisfy Mab’s first command to him: to kill an immortal.
The fourteenth installment of The Dresden Files, after Ghost Story, finds Harry in a very difficult predicament. He has to heal after his experience (it’s difficult to say whether it was merely near-death, since he was technically alive the whole time, or it was actual death, since he did become a ghost). He also has to take on the mantle of the Winter Knight, a role he never wanted that comes with power he can’t comprehend. Like previous books, much of Harry’s character development in Cold Days comes through his struggle to keep Winter from changing who he is.
The storyline of Cold Days is definitely built on the novels that came before and click into place additional pieces that foreshadow what is to come. While earlier novels in the series could basically function as standalones (albeit, with some missing background and character development), these last few novels are very much intertwined. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, as it makes the stories that much broader and deeper, yet always leaves the reader with a lingering feeling of dissatisfaction.
More than most other novels of The Dresden Files, Cold Days is very much about Harry adjusting to his new role and trying to learn about what is happening around him. While he’s always the underdog and constantly exposed to new information, this novel felt as if almost the entire thing was just him running around trying to put the pieces together. It didn’t seem as if it were building up to an ending or heightening suspense through the book. That’s not to say it was bad or uninteresting, and it’s not exactly that the book didn’t have a sense of urgency because the entire thing is a ticking time bomb. It’s difficult to describe what my issue with it was, but I didn’t find it quite as good as previous installments.
That being said, I constantly tell people that The Dresden Files is one of my favorite series currently being written, and for good reason. It’s got amazing characters, an intricate mythology and storyline, and a great sense of humor. Though the first couple of books can be difficult to get through, this is a great series to pick up if you’re looking for something new and different.
Other books by Jim Butcher: