Summer Knight by Jim Butcher offers a great model of what urban fantasy should be. The fourth book in Jim’s Dresden Files series was released in 2002 to great acclaim. And it lives up to the hype. Fraught with tension, the novel takes the reader on a joyride practically from the first page. Jim seamlessly integrates other books from the series into this one, beginning with the drama that spilled over from Book 3.
In this wonderful story, the Red Court of vampires actively attempts to thwart Harry Dresden, the series protagonist. While battling this powerful and nefarious force, Dresden, Chicago’s preeminent wizard, must also fight to save his girlfriend. To heap layers of tension on the already fraught plot, Dresden is coerced into investigating the suspicious death of Ronald Reuel.
Interspersed amongst all this, there are faerie politics in the Nevernever, warring wizard courts, werewolves, and, of course, a good old-fashioned murder mystery.
Butcher Shines With Summer Knight
While some of Jim’s books received criticism, some valid, for being formulaic, Summer Knight defied the harsh reviewers. Creative and compelling, this novel displayed the storytelling prowess and superior writing ability of one of the genre’s monoliths. Dresden found himself in a number of hairy situations and challenged by a large number of supernatural foes, but the bevy of forces set against him never became overwhelming.
The abundance of action did not detract from the story, but, instead, supplemented it. This reveals the level of craft Jim Butcher brings to the table.
In the novel, readers find themselves treated to new hints and details about the faeries as well as Dresden’s past. The taut climax offers both closure and an invitation to delve into the next work in the series.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the urban fantasy genre. For writers, one can learn what a great genre novel looks like. For readers, the story packs a punch.