Well, look what time it is folks. Time to check in on our favorite professional wizard/private eye Harry Dresden! This is the sixth book in the Dresden Files series, and the third one that I’ve discussed here on the site. I’m a huge fan of this series, having fallen in love with it’s weird mashup of urban fantasy and hardboiled noir. And we’ve got another interesting installment to discuss today. While maybe not as enjoyable as the previous entry, Death Masks, our sixth book in the series is still a lot of fun. We get a fun case for Harry to work and also plenty of additions to the overarching plot that the series has been building, including some huge revelations into Harry’s personal life. There was maybe a little too much world-building and not enough stand-alone case for my taste, but it’s still a lot of fun, and another worthy addition to the series.
Blood Rites picks up the narrative chains that the last few books in the Dresden Files series have been making, with Harry and the entire world of wizards at war with the various Courts of vampires. But we do learn quite a bit more about the vampire world in this novel, and get into the three Courts that comprise them. We’ve already seen plenty of the vicious and hate-filled Red Court, but this book we learn far more about the monstrous and Stoker-esque Black Court, and the mostly neutral White Court with their succubus’ and emotion draining vampires. We’ve already met a man named Thomas Raith, who Harry is sort of friends with, and who is a member of the ruling family of the White Court. Thomas opens the book giving Harry some help, offering him a job to help him survive financially while dealing with this vampire threat. And it certainly is a unique job. Thomas introduces Harry to a friend of his, a man named Arturo Genosa, a pornography mogul who is afraid that he’s been cursed. Several women who were close to him have died, and he’s convinced that someone is out to get him, and ruin his attempt at creating a new porn company. And after a bit of poking around Harry realizes that Genosa is indeed being cursed with a powerful spell, piquing his interest and causing him to pose as a production assistant on Arturo’s latest porno, hoping to catch the culprit.
But, in true Dresden Files fashion, this isn’t the only plot going on. We’re also dealing with Harry’s continued war with the vampires, specifically the appearance of a powerful member of the Black Court named Mavra who seems out to get Harry. So, making room in his busy schedule Harry decides to create a team of vampire hunters to try and take down Mavra and her cronies. He picks his friend on the police force Karrin Murphy, the amoral and mystical assassin he dealt with in the previous novel Kincaid, and his mentor and father-figure Ebenezer McCoy. The group begins hunting Mavra while Harry deals with an assault from the White Court in the form of a woman named Lara Raith, Thomas’ sister and the daughter of the leader of the White Court, Lord Raith. Harry also has to deal with the revelation that the reason he’s been getting so much help from Thomas is that they’re half-brothers. Harry’s mother was once held captive by Lord Raith, and bore him a son. So, Harry has a brother, as if that wasn’t enough to juggle. Harry manages to investigate the curse, fight off the Black Court, and deal with the influence that Lord Raith is putting on him and Arturo’s porn empire. And, at the end of the day, things more or less fall into Harry’s favor. He closes the case, saved some lives, temporarily pushes the Black Court out of Chicago, finds new allies, makes some new enemies, and generally just continues living his life.
I liked this novel quite a bit, like I have the entire series, but I will say that this was a weaker entry than the last couple have been. And I think that the main reason for that is that the larger Wizard vs Vampire meta-plot that’s been building the last few books was too prevalent in this book. I first got into the series because I loved the juxtoposition of the fantasy and the noir, and the idea that Harry was just taking cases and dealing with magical crimes was what hooked me. And while I think the idea of Harry trying to help a cursed porno production that’s being targeted by jealous succubi is an interesting one, it’s really sidelined for the vampire stuff. Which I suppose could really pay off in the future, as the books get closer to some sort of closure on the larger war plotline, but I’m not exactly thrilled to see the war taking a bigger and bigger role in the novels, pushing the cases aside. This could be an outlier, since the last few novels have typically been two thirds case and one third war, while this one was more half and half, if not leaning towards the war. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the new normal, and that these books will start fazing out the cases to just have Harry fight vampires over and over, but it did give me some pause. Regardless of that though, this was another fun and weird entry to a series that I like quite a bit, and I still enjoyed myself quite a bit, and can’t wait to see the further adventures of Harry Dresden.
Blood Rites was written by Jim Butcher, 2004.