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Side JObns Cover Picture

Side Jobs

Jim Butcher

Published 2010            403 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

Meet Harry Dresden, Chicago’s first (and only) Wizard P.I. Turns out the “everyday” world is full of strange and magical things – and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does, despite tending to stumble from crisis to drama in his dealings with the supernatural world. Somehow he unfailingly manages to get on the wrong side of werewolf, fae and vampire alike. But that’s where his own rather special powers come into play.

Magic – it can get a guy killed.

The Review

Side Jobs is a collection of ten short stories and a novella from Jim Butcher’s hugely popular Dresden Files urban fantasy series. Usually short story collections are a good place for new readers to try out the works of an author in bite-sized chunks to get a feel for whether they want to invest time in reading a long-running series. However, most of the stories in Side Jobs are chronologically placed from Dresden Files book 8 onwards – meaning that new readers may be a little lost without prior knowledge of the back story. Established fans have no cause for complaint, the majority of stories in this collection are highly entertaining Harry Dresden adventures, and the author’s foreword to each story explains its context and how it fits within the Dresden Files timeline.

The stories range from some of Butcher’s earliest (and weakest) work “A Restoration of Faith” – set in the time before the first Harry Dresden book it was deemed to be under par for professional publication – to “Aftermath” the novella which continues events directly after where Changes (book 12) finished. In between, readers are treated to Harry’s misadventures at weddings, birthdays, his local pub and the county fair. Most of the stories have been published before in various anthologies such as My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, Many Bloody Returns, Blood Lite and Strange Brew so there is a chance that you could (like me) have read a number of these tales before but the high quality of Butcher’s writing means that re-reading certainly isn’t a chore.

My favourite story from this collection is the novella “Aftermath”, exclusive to this collection it’s a five star read by itself. At around 80 pages in length the longer word count perhaps better suits Butcher’s writing style and allows him the space to develop an exciting (and dangerous) mystery for Murphy to solve. Readers hoping for clues to what happened to Harry after he appeared to be murdered at the end of Changes will be left disappointed, since Aftermath gives away no hints regarding Harry’s fate. Instead readers get to see Harry through the eyes of his closest ally, Murphy. The story is narrated by Murphy, who is left alone to deal with the kidnapping of Chicago’s magically inclined population without Harry’s supernatural skills and knowledge to fallback upon. She acquits herself with great style, using her martial arts and weapons training to great effect against some fishy evil villains.

My second favourite story is “Love Hurts” – it features Harry, Murphy and a deadly love spell. With romance, danger, magic and vampires – this story has it all! Other favourites include “Day Off” a Harry Dresden comedy short –Harry’s day off takes several turns for the unexpected with flea-infested werewolves and a disgruntled wizarding wannabe making the day more about work then play. It’s a fun addition to the collection.

Backup” is perhaps the most vampire orientated story. It’s narrated by Thomas, Harry’s vampire half-brother, and shows Harry from another perspective – that of Thomas who is desperately trying to help Harry out of danger without Harry finding out about it. The story also gives insight into the White Court vampires and Thomas’s battle with his inner-demon – something that stories narrated by Harry can never tell because these things are impossible for him to know.

All-in-all if you are a Dresden Files fan I can’t imagine why you haven’t got this book already – it’s worth it for “Aftermath” alone. These thrilling Dresden Files adventures are top quality urban fantasy served up in bite-sized chunks – what fantasy fan wouldn’t like this?

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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