Wizard and PI, Harry Dresden is brought in on a case by his White Court vampire acquaintance, Thomas Raith. Two bizarre deaths have occurred and both female victims are connected to adult film director, Arturo Genosa. Harry believes it's an entropy curse aimed at the director himself. On their way to visit Arturo to get up to speed on his case, Harry and Thomas are attacked by a Black Court vampire, making it obvious that Mavra, the powerful Black Court queen, is back in town and gunning for Harry. While investigating Arturo's case, Harry assembles a team to take down Mavra once and for all. Before Harry can stop it, the entropy curse takes out two more people on the adult film set, and next thing he knows, it's aiming straight at him. It's obvious that a powerful evil, something more than human, is behind the curse, and the trail leads straight to Thomas's over-sexed vampire family, which in turn leads to new information about Harry's own family. First Harry must defeat Mavra and rescue a group of children she's taken hostage, and if he survives that, then he must go up against yet another powerful enemy to stop the curse and solve the case. It's all in a day's work for Chicago's only professional wizard.
Blood Rites is the sixth full-length novel in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. It's definitely giving the previous book, Death Masks, a run for my current favorite book of the series thus far. Not only was the individual mystery story contained in this one awesome, but so were the additions to the overall series story arc. This book is loaded with action, adventure, and suspense. Many times, it seems like all is lost for our intrepid hero and his friends, but while maintaining the air of excitement, Jim Butcher masterfully saves the day, creatively writing them back to safety. In some of the earlier books of the series, I longed for more backstory on Harry, and here we're treated to a healthy helping. Lots of new details are added, which deepen not only Harry's characterization but other characters' as well. There's also some intriguing political maneuvering amongst the vampires, which I'm sure will play out further and affect the books to come. Overall, this was an awesome book that was a lot of fun to read.
This far into the series, it's hard to think of much to say about Harry that I haven't already said, but at the risk of repeating myself, Harry is still one of my biggest literary crushes. He somehow manages to simultaneously be a lot of different things: funny, sarcastic, smart, a little geeky, powerful, sympathetic, compassionate, chivalrous, and sexy, though perhaps not quite in the traditional sense. I think this is what makes him such an appealing character to so many readers. He has many different facets to his personality to which a variety of readers can relate. I think what I like the most about Harry is he's secure enough in his masculinity to allow a woman to step up and fight beside him as his equal, but deep down he's an old-fashioned gentleman who's extremely protective of women. As a woman, I find that very attractive. If Harry were a real man, I'd know I'd be treated right and could feel safe with him even though he's constantly surrounded by danger.:-)
Although Harry still obviously harbors feelings for her, his old girlfriend, Susan, has been absent from his life for the past year. So in this story, Karrin Murphy steps up as the female lead. She's right by Harry's side, helping him battle two different factions of vampires. Murphy is a tough no-nonsense cop who's pretty much married to her job, and she's a hard-core feminist, much to Harry's chagrin. As the series has progressed, Murphy has grown a lot as a character. She's gone from someone who wasn't sure all the things that go bump in the night even existed to someone who is now surprised by very little. As Murphy's family comes to town for a reunion, we get to learn a little more about her background. Harry has always admired Murphy for her intelligence and tenacity, and I think Murphy has always had a grudging admiration for Harry as well that is starting to grow with each book. They are definitely solid friends now, but pretty much all along, the author has teased readers with tidbits that suggest there might be a little more underneath it all, something of a potentially romantic nature. While nothing happens between Harry and Murphy, and I'm still not sure if it will, Mr. Butcher does add some more overt sexual tension between them (at least from Harry's side) in this book.
Ever since meeting Thomas, a vampire of the White Court, in Grave Peril, the third book of the series, I've had a feeling he would become a major player in these stories, so I was pretty excited to find out that I was correct. Thomas is very much front and center in this book, which made me quite happy. I also suspected he wasn't as bad as some of the other vampires, and he proved that in this book. He's charming, sexy, and has a romantic streak in him. Virtually all of the vampires in this series are pretty horrific creatures who do nothing but prey upon humans, but Thomas has always showed a spark of humanity. That spark starts to come to life in this book, leaving me with some hope that there could be a way for a few select vampires to live more "normal" lives. Most interesting of all, though, is Thomas's intriguing new connection to Harry. I'm very excited to see where this goes in future books of the series.
In addition to Thomas and Murphy, there are a number of other fascinating secondary characters. As it turns out, Thomas has a vamp family. Dear old dad is a real piece of work whom I loathed, but Thomas also has a couple of sisters appearing in this book who are pretty decent. His youngest sister is a sweetheart who seems to be headed toward that "normal" life I mentioned, and while his older sister is much more cunning, she can be reasoned with, even if she can't be fully trusted. We meet a few members of Murphy's family, who I have a feeling may pop up again. Mavra, the bad-ass Black Court vampire returns, forcing Harry and his Scooby Team into a life or death showdown. Kincaid, the mercenary who guarded the Archive in the previous book, is one of the people who teams up with Harry to take Mavra down, and we discover that he might not be all he seems. Harry's old mentor Ebenezer is also back, and again, lots of new information is added to his character. We also get a glimpse of Harry's mother and more backstory on her. Best of all, I love how Harry gets two new "roommates" by the end of the story.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Blood Rites. It had everything I read this series for and more. The only thing I wish were a little different is if there could perhaps be some kind of sustained romantic relationship, and I'm not just talking about Harry's pathetic love life either.:-) Other characters kind of got the short end of the stick in the romance department too. I've noticed that most male writers seem to shy away from that sort of thing, but there's just enough here to be tantalizing, even though it's not usually very satisfying. Oh well, maybe I'll get some more of that as the series progresses, and it's not something that really took away from my enjoyment of the story. With each new book, Harry's powers seem to grow, and he grows as a character, building new connections with other characters. I can't wait to see what happens next for our intrepid wizard hero.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook