Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Summer Knight starts with Harry in a very dark place. He is reeling from the fact that his girlfriend has left him, and she's been changed into a near-vampire by the Red Court of Vampires. He feels personally responsible, and is desperate for a way to help her. This despair has affected him to a deep level, and he's barely functioning, living in a pig-sty, and not even taking cases or taking care of himself. It was very hard to see him like that. And things don't get better for Harry. Because he's facing judgment by the White Council of wizards, who are out for his blood, and he has to prove that he's not a troublemaker or they're going to deliver him signed and sealed to the vampires, who won't sit him down for tea and sandwiches. They'll kill him, and make it hurt. His only way out is to prove his allegiance to the White Council by opening up routes into Faerie so they can get away from the vampires. In order to do that, he has to make nice with the Faeries. Luckily, or unluckily, the Winter Queen Mab shows up at his office, 'asking' his help to solve the case of who killed the Summer Knight, thus stealing away some of the Seelie's Court's power and upsetting the power balance between Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Trust me, that's not a good thing, and could very well lead to the end of the world. By asking Harry, that means he doesn't get to say no, since his faerie godmother sold his debt to her to Queen Mab. Complicated? Yes it is. But that's par for the course for Harry.
Harry Dresden doesn't get it easy. He just gets it not as hard, sometimes at least. Life for him seems to go from one battle to the next. And he has plenty of battle-scars. But, he doesn't give up. He keeps on trucking. I couldn't love him more for that. Harry is at his snarkiest in this book. The man's mouth is a sharply-honed instrument, and he knows how to use it. And, he shows that he's definitely an alpha male, with his take charge, 'try to stop me' attitude, despite his endearingly self-deprecating manner. He might seem like a ne'er do well, but he's resourceful, strong-willed, and at heart, definitely a white knight.
Summer Knight wasn't an easy read for me. The print in my book was way too small, and Mr. Butcher has a very descriptive, detail-oriented writing style. But, it was a fantastic read. Mr. Butcher takes faerie and concocts a delectable story around it. I've read quite a few faerie stories, and he still managed to bring some new images and concepts to the table. I love what he does with Faerie. And I loved the Faerie smackdown at the end of this story. I felt like I was right there, with a ringside seat on the action. I was cheering for Harry and his gang of werewolves and faerie changelings, and wincing as he takes his share of licks. And if you've ever read a Dresden novel, you know that Harry is always, always getting hurt. But, he just keeps on going. Gosh, I love this man!
Mr. Butcher really took me on a nonstop ride. I was feeling all Harry's pain. I didn't enjoy seeing him suffering the way he does in this book, and I hope that he does find peace over Susan. Even still, with all his personal anguish, he manages to save the day, yet again, and give me more than a few laughs in the process. It was great to see tough as nails Karrin Murphy, the Chicago Police Detective that he consults on 'weird' cases with, fight at his side against an ogre, chlorofiend (plant monster), and ghoul assassin at the local Walmart. Hats off to Mr. Butcher for yet another grand adventure with Harry Dresden. I better rest up so I can be ready for the next one!
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