Review: Summer Knight (The Dresden Files #4) by Jim Butcher

Rating: 8.5/10

Synopsis

Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can’t pay his rent. He’s alienating his friends. He can’t even recall the last time he took a shower.

The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.

And just when it seems things can’t get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can’t refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him–and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen’s right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen’s name.

It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case. No pressure or anything… 

Review

Can I just say that Murphy and Dresden’s friendship is incredible? They just get each other and it was so cool to see their relationship be delved into more after she wasn’t in much of the previous book. Take this touching excerpt below for a great example:

She closed her eyes tightly. “I’m scared. So scared I’m sick.”
“You’ll get through it.”
“What if I don’t?”
I squeezed her fingers. “Then I will personally make fun of you every day for the rest of your life,” I said. “I will call you a sissy girl in front of everyone you know, tie frilly aprons on your car, and lurk in the parking lot at CPD and whistle and tell you to shake it, baby. Every. Single. Day.”
Murphy’s breath escaped in something like a hiccup. She opened her eyes, a mix of anger and wary amusement easing into them in place of fear. “You do realize I’m holding a gun, right?”

This sort of wry encouragement and support that they show for one another is exactly what I am talking about. They have come to really care for each other more and more in a completely platonic way and I am loving it. Most of the time it feels like Harry is her little brother, making her feel better by cracking jokes and taking her mind off of her problems. Murphy is the big sister that smacks Dresden upside the head when he needs it, but is there for support always.

If you can’t tell by the excerpt Murphy is a tough woman. She is BA and ridiculously brave. Stubborn and resilient in the best of ways. However, in this book we get to see a vulnerable side of Murphy that wasn’t seen before. We also get to see a more vulnerable side of Harry as he seeks to protect those he loves. The character development in this one was the best in the series yet and made me want to start the next one immediately.

“No one was standing in the shadows smoking a cigarette or looking about with a shifty-eyed gaze. I couldn’t see anyone quickly hiding a bloody knife behind his back or twirling a moustache, either. That ruled out the Dudley Do-Right approach to finding the killer.”

The worldbuilding was the most far reaching we have seen so far as well. The world expanded even more so than it did in book 3. As the narrative unfolds we are able to see new factions vying for power and we get a closer look at the White Council and how they fit in to this extraordinary world. Many new fairytale and folktale type creatures are introduced and used in a most effective way.

“You think you’re funny.”
“Oh, I know I’m funny. Unappreciated, but funny.”

The only thing I didn’t connect with as much in this one was the plot. I don’t know what it was exactly, but it just felt like everyone was taking the whole “the world may end” WAY too lightly. As a result of that the stakes, which should have felt really high, felt pretty low and took away from my engagement in the story.

The plot could have been done better in this one. However, the increase in worldbuilding, the fantastic character development of Murphy and Dresden, and the humor of this series (I swear Jim Butcher just gets me) made for another solid installment in the Dresden Files. I’ll leave you with this little gem to remember what to use next time you need an epic battle cry.

“In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!”

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