Published 2007 454 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
A series of apparent suicides rings alarm bells with the police. And before he knows it Harry Dresden, professional wizard, is hired to investigate. At the first crime scene he finds an unmistakable magical taint - and a message specially designed for him, referencing the killing of witches.
Harry is desperate to hunt down his tormentor and halt the killings, but instead finds evidence implicating his half-brother, Thomas. To Harry, this just doesn't add up, so he must add clearing his brother's name to his expanding to do list.
Something that didn't make the list is subtlety, and Harry's search attracts the attention of the White Court of vampires... Soon, whichever way he turns, he faces a power struggle that will render him outnumbered, outclassed and dangerously susceptible to temptation. And if he screws up, his friends will die.
White Night is the ninth outing for Jim Butcher’s wise-cracking wizard Harry Dresden. For those readers who haven’t met Harry before he is a best described as a gun-toting, magic-staff-wielding, supernatural investigator and general all round good guy. Oh, and in case you were getting entirely the wrong idea about Harry, he lives in a tiny basement with a huge dog called “Mouse” and drives beaten-up blue VW Beetle that has been eaten by fungus demons. I think you’re getting the picture now…
Since White Night is the ninth book in the Dresden Files series and the back story has gotten pretty complicated, new readers will probably want to start with earlier books in this series rather than starting here. Each book is a self-contained story so you don’t have to rigidly stick to the reading order but there is an over all story arc that has been building over the last few books.
Harry Dresden is something of a rarity for a protagonist in fantasy fiction these days - he is a celibate guy (more because he’s unlucky in love than through personal choice) and he has a strong moral compass. Harry doesn’t spend a huge amount of time debating the various shades of moral grey because he simply knows right from wrong. He knows that the other supernatural denizens of Chicago know right from wrong too and spends much of his time getting beaten up while protecting the innocent. Women, children and puppies bring out his protective instincts in particular.
In a genre where female protagonists are so busy proving they can do anything their male counterparts can do - so much so that their knickers flutter off with depressing regularity as they sleep with the monsters they were supposed to be investigating or slaying - it’s is a relief to find a guy who can keep his pants on and his mind on the business in hand.
Some previous novels in the Dresden files have had little to no vampire content but vampire fans won’t be disappointed by White Night since the novel is jam packed full of vampire goodness. In Harry’s world there are three types of vampire: Black Court, particularly nasty vampires who are undead, Red Court, bat-like vampires who drink blood and the White Court, psychic vampires who can most easily pass for human.
In White Night Harry is up against a trio of White Court vampires who are surreptitiously murdering their way across America. Interestingly, the White Court is made up of three types of psychic vampire: The Raiths (like Harry’s brother Thomas) who feed off sexual energy, the Malvora who feed off fear, and the Skavis who feed off pain and despair. All White Court vampires share the desire and ability to manipulate others into doing their dirty work rather than taking direct action themselves, making them a doubly deadly enemy for Harry.
The war against the Red Court vampires still rages on and the wizards have sustained heavy casualties, leaving Harry pretty much on his own to deal with this latest incident. The White Court vampires have proposed peace talks between the wizards and the Red Court vampires but with female magic practitioners turning up dead all over the city Harry begins to sense that the dead women are part of a larger plot rather than just random killings.
In White Night author Jim Butcher has got the mixture of magic, mystery, action, horror and humour spot on. The story is well-paced too; rushing readers from one action packed high spot to another. A new harder edged Harry (yet still the wisecracking wizard we all know and love) makes for engaging reading as blasts his way through both Ghoul entrails (lots of entrails!) and waste bins.
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