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As bad as Fool Moon
on 26 June 2007
I read this feeling as though I'd missed a book somewhere along the line. Butcher casually deals with a number of things that happened off-page, which turn out to have a certain level of importance for this plot-line. For example, there's a scene where Dresden meets up with the Winter Lady, Maeve and he talks about something that Maeve tried to pull at Billy the Werewolf's wedding, using it as a bargaining chip. Because we haven't seen what happened at the wedding, it's something that has no power or air of credibility to it and it feels like a desperate attempt by Butcher to pull his plot along.
Butcher also continues the Murphy/Dresden romance angle, which irritated me in Dead Beat. The whole thing is shaping up as one of those Tragic Romances That Were Never Meant To Be and it is such a cliche.
Female characters are still a big problem for Butcher, and I was particularly disappointed with what he did with Molly Carpenter. Previously a bright, somewhat precocious teenager in Death Masks, she's now become the stereotypical teenage cliche - running away from home, having tattoos and piercings, blah blah blah. Her mother, Charity, fares a little better - her opposition to Harry at least gets an explanation now (albeit one that's somewhat radioed in) and you see her as a warrior woman in her own right, but then Butcher has her succumb to the 'everyone likes Harry' theme that pervades the books because really, we're all supposed to believe that Harry is a wicked cool guy and no-one on the side of right can dislike him without being an obvious schmuck.
It's Murphy however who gets the roughest ride because what happens to her is obviously supposed to fit into the wider story-arc, but it's been handled in a way that's so utterly lame that I came close to throwing the book at a wall in disgust.
The plot itself rambles. Butcher's trying to do two things - firstly, building on his backstory by fleshing out Harry's new role as a warden and his discomfort with his involvement with the White Council whilst pushing him further into it; and secondly by developing the war between the Red Court and White Council by showing the involvement of the Faeries and other entities whilst at the same time hinting that there may be an uber-villain behind it all who's pulling everyone's strings. The way he chooses to do both these things is by having a main plot strand of someone bringing horror movie villains to life to scare and kill horror fan patrons. The problem is that this main hook isn't fat enough to sustain Butcher's aims and in fact, he seems to lose interest with his main plot as he confuses it by bringing Molly into his backstory. The result is that whilst Butcher carries the reader through the book at his usual breakneck pace, the story itself is unsatisfying. Once again, Butcher is trying to jump-cut his main story arc so that he can take you to the next significant segment and once again, he's doing it in a lazy and unsatisfying way.