Jim Butcher’s Storm Front, aka The Dresden Files Book One, is old, iconic, and something of a modern classic. Butcher introduced us to what is now considered a seminal twist: a wizard practicing magic in contemporary settings.
Published on April Fools Day in the year 2000, it hit the New York Times Bestseller List and has been in print ever since. As I write this, its ranking on Amazon’s Kindle Store is under 5,000 (the lower the better) out of some 5 million titles. That’s astonishing considering the book is approaching seventeen years old.
In Storm Front, Butcher introduces us to Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, named after renowned magicians. You can find him in the Yellow Pages under “Wizards,” as the only entry for Chicago, IL.
Harry ekes out a living taking the odd job, much as a private investigator. In fact, the police (or at least the one detective on the force who doesn’t think he’s a crank) use his services often.
The plot is straightforward. A damsel in distress calls him up for help in something reminiscent of a Dashiell Hammett novel; mysterious deaths are occurring via black magic; the magic council keeping an eye on things has an enforcement thug hounding him who is convinced of Harry’s guilt thanks to past (though justified) transgressions; and Harry has to figure everything out before the police or other wizards pick him up.
Butcher has maintained an awesome publishing schedule for the Dresden Files over time. At this point he has 15 books in the series, or almost one a year. The Penguin Group, his publisher, loves him I’m sure.
If you’re interested in Urban Fantasy and haven’t read this series yet, it’s a great place to start.
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