Publisher: Orbit Books (2012)
Format: Hardcover | 515 pages
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Fantasy
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS BOOKS AND FOR THIS BOOK AS WELL.Description (GR): "For years, Harry Dresden has been Chicago's only professional wizard, but a bargain made in desperation with the Queen of Air and Darkness has forced him into a new job: professional killer.Mab, the mother of wicked faeries, has restored the mostly-dead wizard to health, and dispatches him upon his first mission - to bring death to an immortal. Even as he grapples with the impossible task, Dresden learns of a looming danger to Demonreach, the living island hidden upon Lake Michigan, a place whose true purpose and dark potential have the potential to destroy billions and to land Dresden in the deepest trouble he has ever known - even deeper than being dead. How messed up is that?Beset by his new enemies and hounded by the old, Dresden has only twenty four hours to reconnect with his old allies, prevent a cataclysm and do the impossible - all while the power he bargained to get - but never meant to keep - lays siege to his very soul.Magic. It can get a guy killed."
Initial reaction: How does Jim Butcher do it? How can he take the most ridiculous sounding ideas and turns them into a coherent, interesting, page-turner of a book? O_O
Weeks after finishing this newest installment in The Dresden Files, I still don't know what to write about it. Except that Butcher can definitely write a compelling story and mix the most strange ideas and plot lines into something that makes sense. And he can keep readers interested for 14 books! 14!
This 14th book starts with Harry waking up after a near-death experience (see Ghost Story, book 13 for details). He is in Mab's kingdom for he has agreed to be her Knight (see Changes, book 12 for details). As he is nursed back to health, he has to escape Mab's deadly training. For Mab is about to ask him for something really unexpected... something Harry thought even Mab wouldn't be able to do.
One of my favourite books in this series is book 4 (Summer Knight), which dealt with faeries and their strange morals, powers and trickery. So I was quite happy to see that Cold Days deals with faeries as well. They are some of my favourite characters in the Dresden Files world.
Cold Days has a bit of a weak start. Harry is in Fairy Land (the NeverNever) and is being groomed to be the new Winter Knight. I must admit that while I did read the first 100 pages pretty quickly, I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the turn of the story. Harry lusting after a changeling and going to parties. Nop.
But then Mab did something that made the book get back on track: she made an impossible request to her new Knight and there Harry is, with enough trouble to get him killed twice over. So Harry gets back to Chicago and meets up with the old gang and that's when the book really 'starts'.
There is all of the usual action (almost non-stop), there is Harry battling with his new Winter powers and what they entail (changes in personality are one thing) and Harry and company trying to figure out why Mab would request such a thing.
What they find is terrifying (and a bit out there). I'm not sure how to feel about the new, shadowy enemies called "The Outsiders". Aliens on top of everything else? I don't know how it will work, but in this book, their involvement was epic. The mystery of the fae's existence and purpose is beginning to unravel; at the same time, we have these Outsiders, who are yet another big mystery, but could also shift the series into the ridicule (looking too much like the X Files, suddenly).
Overall, a typical Harry Dresden book (which is a good thing), with a bold idea that can go very, very wrong. I can't wait to see where Butcher will take the series next, so of course I will be buying the next book. Recommended to fans of urban fantasy and of course to readers of this series: this installment will not disappoint you as it has everything a good Dresden Files book should have.