And the writer slides in with the review at the last second… Now I know to check online to see if my library has all the books. On with the review!
Fool Moon picks up right where Storm Front left off. Sort of. The book actually picks up shortly afterwards, and things haven’t been looking up for Harry. He’s living on ramen noodles, and regretting the falling-out of his relationship with Detective Murphy (and the resulting lack of a paycheck). But a series of murders require his attention again, especially with the threat of jail over his head alongside Murphy losing her job. The suspect seems to be obvious, but as always where a wizard is involved, things get complicated fast. Harry also has to come to terms with some parts of himself, and that isn’t comfortable. Especially if those facts have to do with the parents he’s never met.
There was a lot going on in this plot. Butcher included not one but several different kinds of werewolves, a fact I liked. While I haven’t done much research into it myself, I am friends with a fellow writer who is working on her own werewolf series, and she did a lot research to come up with her mythos (I just got to be the sounding board). The different types resonated with all the research she’s thrown at me over the last few years, and I loved Bob’s irritation with Harry during the discussion. Some of that was also a clever way of hiding info-dumping, to which I say… Meh. It sorta worked? I knew what it was, but it didn’t bug me. I also loved the way the demon-summoning happened in this book and the way it relayed information, again, working to keep the info-dumping interesting, and in this case helping flesh out the rules of the world.
I also liked the conversation between Harry and his subconscious while he was asleep, and later the echoes of that when he puts on his new coat. That is the sort of imagery and subtle plating I love in stories. I hope it means there is more to this little talk, that there might be something bigger behind it. We also got some more information on Harry’s back story, which was well needed after the first book. Elaine was an interesting addition, and the issues with what Harry might or might not know about his parentage sparked my interest. But then, back stories are my addiction. I love them, and hate when writers skim on them. The struggle between Harry and the dark parts of his personality I thought were a brilliant touch, and I hope he continues to flesh those out.
There was an improvement with the world, as I said earlier with the demon, and Harry’s character description. It felt better to me, maybe because we weren’t dealing with so many sources of magic and I was able to focus on one part of it and really get it. I hope that trend continues. As for Harry’s description, it wasn’t included as part of the description of another character, which I think is why it didn’t stick to me last time. I think Murphy’s description took over and so I got hers because of the re-enforcement of her traits and tags, but his didn’t get repeated, so I lost it. This time, his description stood out on its own, so I was able to keep it. I wish it could be reinforced a little more often, but I know how hard that is with first-person.
On to the problems. The first…there was a lot of stuff going on in this book. I know, I’m repeating myself, but it needs said again. I had issues with the pacing of this one. It was constantly going from about the second chapter. The first book, at least we eased into the high pace and by then, I stopped caring. This one threw me into the roller coaster right off the gate, and I hate that. Seriously. Because then it has to keep rushing, keep getting faster and faster and faster. And by that point, any connection between characters is getting lost. We didn’t see enough of Carmichael in this book to mourn his death, and we certainly didn’t see enough of the FBI agents to hate them before suddenly, “Oh look, another set of killers!” Butcher had a lead foot in this one, and it was too much for me.
In addition, I felt like so much got thrown at the wall, but we didn’t spend enough time on it for the reader to appreciate it. On one hand, you want the reader eager to read the next page, desperate to know that next bit of information. This time, though, there was that lack of feeling of satisfaction. Harry often felt the click of information falling into place like a puzzle this book. But the information for the reader hadn’t even been offered long enough for us to understand and accept it to add to what was going on, so we couldn’t feel that satisfaction with him as Harry put it together. On one hand, you don’t want your protagonist to be stupider than your reader and figure it out before them. But you don’t want to out-smart the reader, and I’m afraid Harry is rapidly approaching this. It’s a fixable mistake in later books, so we’ll see…
The final problem was… Oh dear Lord, this is the second book. It relies on the reader having read the first book, though at least not the worst I’ve seen of books that do that. It did eventually explain why Murphy and Harry were at odd-ends, and if you’d read the first book, you knew what all the little flashes were throughout the rest of the book. But to a new reader, they would have been confusing and there wasn’t enough information given to really explain it. Murphy and the issues with her got beaten like a rug over and over again, but the rest? Not enough. But over all, I would rather the pacing be slowed down for attention paid to the different wolf parts of the plot than to rehash the first book.