Blood Rites, by Jim Butcher

Blood Rites, by Jim Butcher book coverGenre: Modern/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Roc
Published: 2004
Reviewer Rating: three and a half stars
Book Review by Kate Savage

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Harry Dresden is a modern wizard in Chicago with an ad in the yellow pages. His life is far from perfect. His social circle is limited and he has no girlfriend. He has money troubles. Harry’s gift has the unfortunate side effect of conflicting with modern conveniences so he lives in a simple cold water flat. Multiple vampire cliques are out to get him because of old feuds. Fellow wizards on the White Council are split over his status as a good guy and give him no support. While he has one staunch ally in the local police department, most cops distrust him because they only see Harry at crime scenes involving dead bodies or mass destruction.

The sixth “Dresden Files” novel is Blood Rites. As a favor to a friend, Harry agrees to investigate a series of killings that may be failed assassination attempts. The new job has him doing undercover work on a porn film set. He needs to find out who is doing the killing and prevent others from dying.

Blood Rites occurs in a world populated with a variety of supernatural beings. Things happen that ordinary people like to rationalize away. In one scene, some co-workers from the movie stumble on Harry doing some advance work for a spell. They are briefly puzzled before deciding he is applying the principles of Feng Shui. One of Harry’s familiars is a spirit (Bob) who lives in a skull in his workshop. Bob is sort of a database of things occult and sometimes goes on fact-finding missions. The friend who involved Harry in the murders on the porn set is a vampire from the White Court. White Court vampires feed off the emotions of others as opposed to the vampires of the Red Court or Black Court who are the more typical bloodsucker types. Thomas is the exception, for all other vampires have nefarious plans for Harry.

Blood Rites works well as a stand-alone novel. Readers who have read the previous books will see the return of familiar characters and recognize story lines developing between the novels. On occasion, the book suffers from brief info dumps. There are some problems with internal consistency, such as Harry not being able to use cell phones, but being able to use land phones. The theory that cell phones are too high-tech but land phones aren’t doesn’t wash with me because land phones physically connect to extremely complex computer networks. However, whatever shortcomings the book has are lost in its other charms. Blood Rites is fun to read. To date, I have read all but one of the books in the series. Books with vampires and wizards often bore me because so many of them fail to be original. Blood Rites and the Dresden Files series have been the exception. Butcher strikes an amusing balance of originality and dark humor.

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