Dresden needs a job, but he can’t seem to find the motivation. After his vampire girlfriend Susan leaves town, he’s consumed with finding a cure for her condition, and he neglects every other concern that should be getting his attention. Like the toads falling from the sky, for instance, or the parade of hit men sent his way courtesy of the Red Court of vampires.
But the appearance of a faerie queen can pull anyone out of even the most impassioned self-absorption. Showing up in his office, one day, the Winter queen of faerie makes Harry an offer he can’t refuse: find who killed the Summer Knight and the queen will absolve his godmother’s hold over him. Adult Urban Fantasy Published September 3rd 2002 by Roc.
Thoughts (The Good) :
I started this audiobook immediately after finishing the audiobook of book III, Grave Peril. The humor and ghosties of book III made me eager to jump into the next installment. I have to admit, I had very high expectations starting this book (because “It gets better!” says everyone says ever).
The book starts strongly, which was an encouragement after the engrossing opening of book III. (I loved that chilling opening of Grave Peril with the ghost of Agatha Hagglethorn.) The mystery plot of book IV improves on book III, somewhat, in complexity and conclusion—I didn’t guess the culprit, this time, and it takes readers for an interesting trip through both faerie and wizard council politics. James Marsters once again kept me laughing with his terrific narration on the audiobook.
Unfortunately, although many readers clearly love Harry and the rest of the cast, I’m still struggling to really about them. My main problem with the series is, I think, Harry himself.
I’d asked her to marry me. She told me no.”
I tried not to cry. I willed myself not to with all of my years of training and experience and self-discipline.”
And of course,
The skirt showed exactly enough leg to make it hard not to look, and her dark pumps had heels just high enough to give you ideas.”
While Harry can be charming and adorable, sometimes this style of first person narration can ruin a character for me. Harry constantly has me bouncing between, “HAHAHAHAHAH-“ to “You’re drooling/whining AGAIN?” Granted, he can be very funny, but I don’t necessarily want to be in Dresden’s pervy head—or any guy’s pervy head—for 15 books.
As another literary character so rightly says, “It’s a cesspool in there.” Heh…so true. This is clearly a matter of personal taste, as many people love Dresden; I just can’t seem to care overly much about him.
In fact, as a completely personal side note, I think I might just prefer high fantasy character tropes to modern tropes. Harry is about as cute and cuddly and whiny and hilarious as a wizard can conceivably get, but give me Merlin any day.
In fact, give me the Codex Alera. Give me Tavi, baby. I dig those hackneyed hero king tropes, and Butcher pulls them off with skill.
I also tend to prefer series that make certain characters integral to the plot. An interchangeable cast makes it difficult for readers like me to connect with a series. I loved the interplay between Harry and his friend Michael in book III, and I sorely missed it in book IV.*
Solid three stars. I like much of the humor and worldbuilding, even if the characters don’t appeal to me. This series may or may not improve on me, but I can see why others like it so much: it’s clever and funny in how it interacts with ancient mythology in modern Chicago.
Even though I complain a lot about Harry, Summer Knight will still appeal to readers who like the idea of a lovable, if whiny, supernatural sleuth who always barely manages to pull out a win.
*Note Update: In reference to the “pervy” comment about Harry, I just wanted to clarify that it’s nothing like, “MMM, THAT CHILD SURE IS JUICY!!!” But because the cast in the series is mostly interchangeable, it’s tough to get beyond caricature, sometimes, with the female characters especially. Butcher compensates for that lack of character growth with humor. And since our first person narrator is a guy…we get lots of commentary about the breasts and buttocks and relative attractiveness of every woman he meets! It’s not offensive, or anything, because it usually makes me laugh. But it’s just not very interesting to me, beyond the laugh of the moment.