Review of Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Fool Moon by Jim ButcherFool Moon: Book Two of the Dresden Files
By Jim Butcher; Read by James Marsters
1 MP3 Disc or 8 CDs – Approx. 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia
Published: 2003
ISBN: 9780965725583
Themes: / Fantasy / Mystery / Magic / Private Detective / Wizard / Noir /

The fantastically grey world of Wizard Harry Dresden is back in this, the second book of the series. Harry Dresden is still a private investigator who has special supernatural powers that people who believe in him would call being a Wizard. Those who do not believe in such things might call him a fake. This coupled with the fact that Dresden still has the ability to get himself in to the deepest and darkest of trouble makes for a equally fun and entertaining read.

Fool Moon takes place less than a year after the climax of Storm Front (Dresden, Book 1). As the title suggests, Fool Moon spends much of its time dealing with supernatural creatures of the night known to us as Werewolves. And as it turns out there is a lot I did not know about werewolves. There are many different ways to become one and there are many different versions of them as well. So, even if you are not an expert in werewolves, don’t worry, because neither is our hero, Mr. Dresden.

For two months, when the moon is full, certain people have been dying horribly gruesome deaths and Dresden finally gets a call from his friend and main source of income, Detective Murphy. She’s the head of the city’s special investigations and leans on Harry whenever the mystery has a twinge of the unexplainable. When Dresden gets the call from her, he jumps at the chance to pay the bills and put some food on the table. The moon is full for four nights and that’s all the time they have to solve the murders. As they start to connect the pieces to the puzzle, they both begin to realize that they are not prepared for what is about to happen.

The details and story are dark and horrifying. Dresden is the consummate intuitive detective, acting on things that he isn’t quite sure about, but just has a solid hunch or gut feeling. His sage-like wisdom often leads him in the right direction, but also leaves him asking the question, “Now what?” These intuitions are what I like best about Harry. His wizardry is more than just using magic. It’s more like an innate ability to look at any given situation from a different perspective.

It always gets him in to trouble, not because he is wrong, but because he is right about so many things. You might find yourself pitying the poor wizard as he follows his nose and heart in to trouble. He gets beaten to a pulp more than once and I was wondering how much more could he take? Trust me, Harry Dresden gets pushed to the physical and mental limits in this story and the depths he visits, both magically and psychologically, are sure to get your heart pumping. The thought “don’t go there” crept in to my mind more than once. The Harry Dresden “hat tricks” will put a smile on your face and keep you asking for more.

I like the way Dresden is written, always telling the tale in a first person. It sucks you in to Dresden’s brain. It’s from his perspective, which isn’t always correct. But, you’re in it with him. Dresden often makes decisions based on his point of view or the facts that he has at the time, like we all do and some times. It’s just not every day that we are all making life or death decisions on how to best defeat a violent, man eating beast, like Harry does in this book.

The first person narrative is perfect for the audio book outlet. In fact, it’s almost as if these words were meant to be spoken out loud. The text is not too proper and not too relaxed either. Just right. The book is narrated stunningly well, once again by James Marsters, AKA Spike of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. He’s able to capture the essence of the character, moment by moment. He immortalizes the wit, sarcasm, and underdogedness of Dresden in a single paragraph, all while sounding incredibly relaxed. It’s just another telling of a story straight from the guy it happened to.

Fool Moon is not unlike the previous production of Storm Front. In some places the audio production is flawed. There are periodical flubs by the reader, things that could be easily edited out of the soundtrack to bring the quality of the production in to the same level as the writing and performing. You can also hear the faint sounds of page turns and other pesky undesirables that only pull you out of the story that Jim Butcher and James Marsters are working so hard to keep you sucked in to. I have spoken about this before and will resist the urge to go on another tirade about the virtues of audible storytelling and the need for quality to assure the listener’s total absorption in to the world that they are listening to. So, I will only say that it is a little upsetting, because these are simple problems that even podcasters, such as J.C Hutchins and Scott Sigler, with their homegrown recordings have figured out how to avoid. Why not the professionals at Buzzy?

But, all criticism aside, if you are a fan of audio books and a fan of Harry Dresden, the flaws and inconsistencies in this production of Jim Butcher’s wonderful concoction Fool Moon are few and far between. The world he has created grows richer and deeper with every word. The story starts strong on page one and continues on full force until the end. That’s said of Harry Dresden, as well. He is growing as a person and a wizard and I am looking forward to listening to the next installment of the Dresden books. And with eight more of them published, including the newly released Small Favor, I am sure to have many, many more hours of Dresden to spark my imagination and to keep me wishing I had some of those tricks up my sleeve.

Posted by Michael Bekemeyer of the Scatterpod podcast.

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Scott D.

Reviews Editor, SFFaudio

5 thoughts to “Review of Fool Moon by Jim Butcher”

  1. This is the series that sold me on audiobooks actually. (Or perhaps that was Nigel [Whatshisname]’s readings of Pratchett’s Discworld books.) In any event, I would never have read the Dresden stories in print–the writing is simply dreadful. And yet, Marsters’ reading gives them a dimension that makes them not only palatable but enjoyable. In the later books the flubs are actually extensive, with Marsters swearing when he gets it wrong. It doesn’t detract much somehow; actually, the missteps reminded me of listening to the Fourth Tower of Inverness where, in various parts, they just left the mistakes right in.

    It’s good to see that another book is coming out though.

  2. The Dresden series is great on paper but the idiot they got to read them is just awful . . . like a mouthful of ice cold porridge . . . awful, bland pap . . . pathetic. He ruins a wonderful series.

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