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Tales of Dresden
on 27 October 2010
Like most successful urban fantasy authors, Jim Butcher has written a number of short stories and novellas over the years. And at long last, they're collected in "Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files" -- all the short stories and novellas that Butcher has penned about his wisecracking wizard, plus some new material.
The stories include "A Restoration of Faith," a prequel story in which Harry tries to rescue a little girl (named Faith -- get it?); "Vignette," which is basically a conversation between Harry and Bob the Skull; "Something Borrowed," in which Billy and Georgia's true-love wedding is turned upside-down by a malevolent fairy; and "It's My Birthday Too," in which Harry follows his brother Thomas to a rather unusual gathering, and immediately runs into vampiric trouble.
"Heorot": a young woman is abducted right before her honeymoon, and Harry has to join forces with Miss Gard to find her. "Day Off": Harry's attempts to relax are thwarted by Slytherin wannabes, supernatural fleas and other problems. "Last Call": Beer starts inexplicably causing riots, and Harry suspects a supernatural cause. "Love Hurts": people are dying after falling madly, passionately in love/lust. And "The Warrior," in which Harry confronts some of the religiously-based problems in his life -- including a certain archangel.
Additionally, there's Butcher's brilliant novella from Thomas Raith's point of view, "Backup," which was previously published by Subterranean Press. Basically Thomas is called on to do some heroic behind-the-scenes stuff against an old enemy, hopefully without his little brother knowing about it.
And then... there's the new, previously unpublished story. "Aftermath" is from Murphy's perspective just after the end of "Changes," as she grapples with the loss of Harry Dresden and the messy Chicago disasters left behind.
I've honestly been waiting years for Jim Butcher to put together a collection of his short stories, some of which were put straight on his website and never included in a book. These stories are like the icing on the cake -- if you've read and enjoyed Butcher's full-length novels, then these mini-adventures will really entertain you.
And most of them have the well-rounded Dresden formula: grotesque supernatural baddies, snappy writing ("The Dim Lord tried for his dramatic dialogue again"), slam-bang magic, and lots of fun genre-savvy jokes (Thomas has "some awfully nerdy hobbies"). But Butcher also inserts some darker stories into the mix -- "Aftermath" is bittersweet and a little painful, and "Backup" has some darker parts when Thomas wrestles with his inner demon.
Butcher also contributes a new foreword to each story, which explains a little about why he wrote it ("Vignette" was something he knocked out for promotion) and for what. F'rinstance, Charlaine Harris is so nice that "I can't even bring myself to be jealous. She's that nice."
Collecting all of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files novellas and short stories (including those not formally published), "Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files" is a must-have for anyone who adores the Chicago wizard.