Review: The Dresden Files 9 – White Night

Well, fair auditions are over with, and I’ll know what part I have sometime this week. I aimed for a Lady of the Lake, so let’s see where it actually ends up going.

Speaking of lakes, White Night has Harry taking a swim…but we’ll get to that. It starts with a now demoted Murphy calling Harry to what appears to be a suicide. Only it is actually a murder of a practioner, someone within the magical community. She is the latest in a long string of victims. As if to make things worse, the minor members of the community suspect that it might be Harry himself doing the killings. Harry is also dealing with an apprentice quite sure she is ready to fly beside him…despite his warnings to the contrary. His own anger issues aren’t helping things, as he continues his struggles with the Fallen Angel taking up a portion of his brain, his guilt over the past few years, and the fact that his vampire half-brother has gone all mysterious on him. Oh, and the police now think he’s gay. Things just keep getting better and better.

I totally thought after the events of the last book, this would be the book where Harry ends up becoming the Winter Knight. Because White Night is totally a pun-thing and it seems plausible, right? Ha, I was wrong. And while there were parts of this that were great, I did have a couple of technical bones to pick with Butcher by the time all was said and done.

I’ll start with some of the parts that as a reader, I responded strongly to. To begin with, I wanted to whack both Harry and Thomas. Especially Thomas. Because dear Lord, can we not just actually have a conversation between them? I mean, it’s simple. Stuff starts to go down, you tell each other about it. Or find sneaky ways around it. Thomas tried that, I have to give him a little credit for that, but he has not figured out that subtle does not always work with Harry and Harry… Harry is so dense sometimes that you really, really worry about him and his career as Warden/private investigator.

Thankfully, Elaine returned to help him out. I liked that we got to see where she was after all the events of Summer Knight, and she was a lot of fun to have for parts of the book, especially towards the end. She actually got set up to have a spin-off series there towards the end (or at least, I thought it was a solid enough lead off into one), but considering the way Butcher has been writing women, I sincerely doubt it will ever happen, even though Elaine would be an awesome main character. Is it wrong of me to already be shipping her and Ramirez…? I think it could hysterical. I also like Ramirez, and this poor boy… I’m not going to say what happens, but yeah. Poor, poor boy…

This book did so many things right, it’s hard to nail down where to start. I know, weird for me, right? I guess I’ll start with the fact that there weren’t nearly as many new characters to try and keep track of. Oh, there were a few, don’t get me wrong. But they were pretty much side characters and were rarely too big of a deal to keep track of. Butcher also took the opportunity to reintroduce some characters we haven’t seen in a while, which are really what this review is going to focus on a bit since they were really what I took away from the book.

Molly was fun…for all of the wrong reasons in this book. Her struggles are so clear to us as a reader and to Harry who understands them, but to everyone else? It just looks very, very cruel. But it was also a great catalyst to help Harry realize how Lash is influencing his inner self…and turning that back against her in a big way. In a way that actually made me a little teary towards the end. (And then there was Thomas, and those turned to tears of laughter, so…) His anger and violence had definitely been growing in each book, and I think no matter if you were reading the books as they came out (which I will be joining that bus just in time for Peace Talks it appears), or back to back like I am currently, it was a wake-up call for the reader too.

Now for the nit-pick parts. Part of what helped keep Harry as a balanced character in terms of power in relation to his world was his lack of finesse. He knew how to wield the sledge hammer, but the itty bitty sculptor’s pick was beyond him…hell, the normal hammer was almost beyond him. But apparently becoming a teacher is now fixing that and making it easier for him to wield the more complicated spells that he couldn’t before. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for character growth across a series. I’m figuring out how to do it myself with Caley so it doesn’t drag on and on for forever and a day. But the problem is, all this new growth happened in the time skip between Proven Guilty and White Night. We didn’t get to see him gradually get it over a couple books, it’s just there. And that’s really hard on a reader and starts making the character too perfect. Lash’s big reveal at the end didn’t help matters, but I guess most people don’t catch it? My friend who read the series as they came out didn’t until I said something, anyway.

Speaking of that ending… It got really cluttered really fast. We were okay for the duel. I had no real technical complaints there. But when it turned into two armies clashing, I had problems. That much action, it’s hard to keep everything. The literal ticking clock gave some grounding, but overall there were too many names and too much going on for it to be possible to even understand on the first read through. On one hand, you want the re-readability factor. Reading it again will probably help clarify part of it, and a third time will probably sync it for me. But I didn’t understand it at all on the first read through, and you want a reader to be able to do that. Overall, it didn’t harm the book any, but it was a slight wrinkle in what has been an otherwise much steadier improvement.

The formula of the series (and there is a formula) isn’t wearing on me because Butcher has figured out that a formula is for readers who pick up a book at random, to guarantee that the book is good and satisfying for them and encourages them to read the rest of the series. But the readers who follow it anyway stop reading for each case, and instead want the answers to series questions. Butcher’s got to start answering some of these soon. They also come for stupid detail fluff (like Coma Girl, I squeed when we found out more about her…and sniffled when I realized that what he tried earlier didn’t work, and no, I’m not elaborating on who that “he” is. Read the book). So if he can start answering those series questions to ease the load a little (not all of them, one would be enough), and keeps up the fluff, he’s got a good formula.

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About Rebecca M. Horner

A spinner of yarns (of the story sort, though I do crochet...and sew, and learning to make armor...) View all posts by Rebecca M. Horner

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