It feels like a very long time since the last novel was published in the Dresden Files (Skin Game) and with there still being no release date for the next one (Peace Talks) this anthology of short stories forms a much needed chance to at least read something new! I should note that some of these stories have been published in other anthologies so it’s worth checking that before buying but there is one completely new novella included.
These stories are set at varying points during the history of the Dresden Files and from various perspectives. Whilst in most Harry is the protagonist we get two stories from the perspective of his apprentice Molly, one of Butters first job as a Knight of the Cross, one from Luccio’s perspective (featuring Wyatt Earp), and one from John Marcone’s. These are welcome diversions and I particularly enjoyed Marcone’s story as we again see his intelligence and moral code as well as his clear concerns about how things will end up between him and Dresden (though I feel that is shifting as time goes on).
With Molly we see events before and after she becomes the Winter Lady and the tale set after feels like a harsh (but probably necessary) lesson from Mab combined with some detail that may even evoke some sympathy for the previous holder of that role even if she was mostly psychotic.
There’s a trilogy of stories featuring a Bigfoot and his teenaged son which feel more in keeping with earlier Dresden File being lighter in tone and a welcome diversion from some of the darker turns his work has taken. They’re not without peril but the stakes are less world ending.
It’s the final novella though that was the primary reason for getting this book – Zoo Day. This takes place between Skin Game and Peace Talks and features Harry taking his daughter Maggie and their temple dog Mouse to the zoo. It’s a great little story featuring all 3 perspectives on the same events and is a wonderful illustration of how tough childhood can be and that even a gifted wizard isn’t going to know everything that happens around him. Plus Mouse’s section starts with “My name is Mouse and I am a Good Dog” so it gets additional points for that!
If you like the Dresden Files then this is really a must-read (or at least read the bits you haven’t read before). If you’re new to the series I’d recommend starting with the third book (Grave Peril) after reading a synopsis of the first two as they are a bit of a drag…