Review: Side Jobs, by Jim Butcher

This is a collection of short stories from the Dresden Files:

I’m going to start off with two opposing disclaimers. First, I don’t really read that much short fiction anymore. I used to, but somewhere along the way, it lost its appeal. Second, the Harry Dresden series is one of the best things I’ve read in my life, so I’m predisposed to like this… except, of course, for the short form.

These stories occur between the various novels, and there’s a little forward for each one saying when it occurs and how he came to write it. Often these stories were requested for anthologies, so the story behind the anthology was a little interesting as well. Anyway, the stories started from perhaps halfway through the series so far (i.e. maybe as early as book 5 or 6), all the way to one story that occurred between Changes and Ghost Story.

By and large, these were good stories, and I enjoyed them. Perhaps my biggest complaint was the short form, but I already said I’m biased against that. That stripped the tales of a lot of the wonderful character and world building that they’re known for, and then just as the story really started ramping up, it was over. But what else are you going to do in 8,000 words?

Two stories in particular stood out from the rest, largely because they were not written from Harry Dresden’s point of view. Now, I love Dresden’s first person narrative voice, but the tales done from Thomas’s and Murphy’s points of view were fabulous.

Thomas’s tale dealt with a subject that, by its very nature, Harry was never going to be able to narrate. It was about an effort to intentionally obscure and hide things, which tends to be the very opposite of Harry’s modus operandi. Thomas, however, is well-versed in keeping secrets, and it was great to get his view of the magical world.

Murphy’s tale takes place between Changes and Ghost Story. It’s a time when Harry Dresden is, shall we say, indisposed. Given what the magical side of Chicago looks like at the start of Ghost Story, this story provides a powerful glimpse at the desperate resolve of his friends picking up the fight in his absence.

So, if you’re a fan of Harry Dresden, definitely check this out. If you haven’t read them yet, though, go pick up Storm Front and start reading.