Harry Dresden is a wizard living in modern Chicago who works as a private investigator for all things supernatural or paranormal. He wears a black duster coat, carries a staff (well, a blasting rod in his own words) and has a basement where he concocts potions and has a spirit-embodied skull as an assistant of sorts. Surely it can't get any more clichéd than this for an urban fantasy with a wizard.
The last urban fantasy I've read was probably Terry Brooks' Word and Void series at least 20 years ago. While I love fantasy in general I can't exactly call myself a big fan of this sub-genre, even though I do occasionally dabble into it. The Dresden Files is probably one of the most spoken of urban fantasy series and it will be remiss of me not give it a try.
I can appreciate the allure of this sub-genre which by definition means fantasy which takes place in contemporary times on Earth, albeit not exactly one in which we currently live in. When compared to high/epic fantasy or even classic fantasy, this is much lighter reading as one does not need to spend too much time familiarising or immersing oneself into a new world.
Clichés aside, this first instalment of the Dresden Files was really quite entertaining. I like Harry's character as he felt real and not perfect. He is flawed yet heroic, powerful yet fallible. And there’s an interesting and, in all likelihood, a dark back-story in there which was just begging to be discovered. However, there isn’t much character development elsewhere and I can't say I felt much for the rest of the characters although Johnny Marcone might have been fascinating if we can learn more about him.
The plot in Storm Front is straightforward and fairly predictable; sufficed to say that I pretty much guessed who the antagonist may be really early in the book. Nonetheless, the pacing is good and it kept me engaged throughout the story. Written in a first person perspective, Harry's self-deprecating and dry sense of humour was also easy to connect with.
All in all, this is an enjoyable read and a good breather in between all the heavy epic/high fantasy reads on regular rotation in my reading schedule. As many fans will proclaim that the series improve with each and every book, I will undoubtedly continue with the series given that it does not take much time commitment for the entertainment value it presents.