Review: ‘Blood Rites’ by Jim Butcher (audio)

Blood Rites

Dresden Files #6

Author: Jim Butcher

Format: audio book

Publisher: Penguin Audio Books

Release Date: 4/6/10 (original release date: 8/3/04)

Length: 13 hours 11 minutes (a 372 page paperback also resides on one of my bookshelves, amongst my other Dresden books)



Publisher’s summary:

For Harry Dresden, there have been worse assignments than going undercover on the set of an adult film. Still, there’s something more troubling than usual about his newest case. The film’s producer believes he’s the target of a sinister curse-but it’s the women around him who are dying.

Harry’s even more frustrated because he only got involved with this bizarre mystery as a favor to Thomas-his flirtatious, self-absorbed vampire acquaintance of dubious integrity. Thomas has a personal stake in the case Harry can’t quite figure out. But Harry is about to discover that Thomas’ family tree has been hiding a shocking revelation that will change his life forever…


My thoughts (which contain many spoilers so proceed with caution if you haven’t read the book):

The opening minutes of this sixth installment of Jim Butcher’s extremely popular Dresden Files series finds Harry fleeing a school in the dead of night, carrying a box of puppies while being chased by demons, which by the way, resemble purple chimpanzees with wings. Oh yes, and they’re hurling flaming excrement. What better start could one want to a Dresden Files book?

Then Thomas Raith, yes that Thomas Raith, a vampire of the White Court, tells Harry about a job on a movie set, which Harry accepts though he doesn’t realize that it’s actually the set of a porn movie. All sorts of fun is had by Butcher as Harry experiences various levels of discomfort with the situation. This particularly uncomfortable-for-Harry exchange between him and Murphy was perfectly read by James Marsters and literally had me laughing out loud: Harry“He doesn’t believe in using surgically altered… emmm… You know.”  Murphy“Boobs? Jugs? Hooters? Yayas?”  Harry“I guess.”  Murphy“Melons? Torpedos? Tits? Gazongas… knockers… tatas?”  Harry“Hell’s bells, Murph!”

But the case really does turn out to be a nasty one, and much more involved than Harry suspects, at first. There is indeed an entropy curse but Harry’s not so sure that the target is his client. The deeper involved in the case he becomes and the more he learns, the more dangerous things get until he finds himself at odds with not one court of vampires, but two. And neither one of them Red!

We get some nitty-gritty Black vamp fighting, the most memorable of which includes a frozen turkey that falls from the sky to crush a vamp’s head and chest. Random, yes but it was actually the result of an entropy curse that Harry redirects from the girl that it was gunning for. That scene was a wonderful combination of creepy and hilarious and I could literally see Black vamps, White vamps and Harry all standing there blinking as the timer popped out of the turkey atop the twitching vamp that it had crushed. That scene was incredibly fun to listen to!

As the story progresses and Harry realizes who’s behind the entropy curse and that they know he’s onto them, he has to not only stop the next curse, which will most certainly be directed at him, he also has to find a way to go after Mavra of the Black Court. She’s holed up with her scourge somewhere in Chicago and she’s also after him. Could we just deal with one vampire court at a time? Please? Maybe?

Knowing that he can’t handle Mavra & Company alone, Harry enlists the help of Karrin Murphy (who encourages Harry to please need her help during the Murphy family reunion this Saturday!) and his old mentor, Ebenezar. He also hires Kincaid, the mercenary we first met when The Archive joined the cast of characters in book #5Death Masks and was promptly given a name by our favorite professional wizard. She has been henceforth known as Ivy and though Kincaid is still working for her, he came to Harry’s aid when called. Although… if Harry fails to pay him then Kincaid will kind of kill him. Sorry, business is business. Hell’s bells. Where Harry is concerned, when the incendiary poo hits the fan, it really hits the fan.

In addition to meeting Thomas again in this book, we also get to meet the fam. First we meet Thomas’ younger sister Inari, who is also working on the movie set, as production assistant. Next we meet his older sister Lara, who is called in to work as one of the actresses when another entropy curse sends the girl she’s replacing to the hospital. Finally we meet Dad.

Daddy Raith is actually Lord Raith, the friggin’ King of the White Court. And he is a very not-nice vampire. It turns out that the White King has killed every one of his other sons when they got to the point where he thought they might challenge his position. Not personally, of course. He does it in such a way that he can’t be blamed for their deaths. Thomas is the first to have lived as long as he has. In part, he says, because of Harry. Which is one reason he enlisted Harry’s help with the case on the porn set.

Lord Raith, however, plans to remedy the failure of his previous attempts to dispose of his only remaining son. And to get rid of Harry at the same time. Harry, however, enlists the help of Thomas’ sister, Lara to prevent both of these seeming inevitable murders. He makes a crazy proposition but will she help him? Does she dare? If not, will Harry, Karrin and Thomas survive?

Not only is this book a fantastic read all on its own, but it touches on several things that will have bearing on future books. Butcher concentrates on family a lot in this story… Harry’s family, Thomas’ family, Karrin’s family. There’s a lot of pain on Harry’s part, for losing everyone in his past. His parents, Justin DuMorne who adopted Harry and was his first mentor, and throughout the course of this book, he even kind of loses Ebenezar when he discovers who his former mentor really is and the nature of the services that he performs for the White Council.

This book is something of a turning point for Harry. He’s got people he cares about that he’s getting closer to and it makes a difference. He now has something to lose. A lot of somethings. Which makes the altercation with Ebenezar that much more dramatic. When you don’t have a lot of people who are close to you, losing even one is a pretty damn big deal.

It was hard at times, for me as a “reader” to listen to Marsters’ reading because he’s become so adept at this point in the series at expressing the emotions of the characters. He’s perfected this character’s voice breaking or that character’s voice trembling. You can hear the emotion that the characters are feeling and it really does a lot to add a lot to the listening experience.

My first time through the series, I actually read the books up to #10, Turn Coat but have since listened to the entire series on audio, through book #12, Changes, including Side Jobs. I just LOVE the audio books. I’m currently on my second ‘listen’ of the entire series which is actually my third time through the series to date. I’m doing this re-listen in preparation for book #13, Ghost Story, which is scheduled for a July 2011 release and about which I get more and more excited with every book in the series that I complete. On to book #7!

My own personal summary of the book:

The one in which Harry: rescues Foo Dog puppies; has a heart-to-heart with Thomas; takes a case on the set of a porn movie; learns a secret about Thomas’ parentage; speaks with his dead mother; meets Karrin’s family and learns that her sister is engaged to her ex; goes after Mavra of the Black Court with Karrin, Kincaid, and Ebenzar; gets his hand charbroiled; learns that Ebenezar is the Black Staff for the White Court; saves Thomas from his own father; learns that he’s conjuring Hell-fire with his staff, thanks to Lashiel-who’s-coin-is-buried-in-the-lab; gets a roommate and… gets a dog.


Fave quotes:

“Stupid little fuzzbucket. This is why I have a cat.” ~Harry to puppy

“‘Running an errand’ is getting a tank of gas or picking up a carton of milk or something. It is not getting chased by flying, purple, pyromaniac gorillas hurling incendiary poo.” ~Thomas to Harry

“Discretion is the better part of not getting exsanguinated.” ~Harry to Thomas

Harry: “I need a thug. You available?”  Murphy: “You need manpower?”  Harry: “I need thugpower. … I need thugpower with countergoon capability.”

“Is that a puppy in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?” ~Murphy to Harry

Bobby: “Who the hell are you?”  Harry: “I, the hell, am Harry.”  Bobby: “Are you always a wise-ass?”  Harry: “No, sometimes I’m asleep.

‘I dug for more information, like a good investigator. “Why not?”‘

“For my next trick… anvils!” ~Harry, after the frozen turkey fell from the sky to crush the Black Court vampire

Harry: “Well then, I’m glad you took the time to RSVP me. I have a problem that needs to stay on the QT but is rapidly going FUBAR. I’m sorry to call you LD through AT&T instead of using UPS but I needed your help ASAP. I hope that’s OK.”  Ebenezar: “Don’t make me kick your ass.”

“It’s been a busy couple of days, what with dodging all the certain death coming at me from every direction.” ~Harry to Ebenezar

“This is a family get-together. Maybe you could find another part of the park to stand around looking foreboding.” ~Rich to Harry

“We’re doing battle with the living dead, Murph. Expect the occasional curve ball.” ~Harry

Kincaid: “You’re going to lose that hand.”  Harry: “I was sending it back to the kitchen, anyway. I ordered it medium-well.”

Lara: “I underestimated you.”  Harry: “Don’t feel bad. I look so stupid.”

‘Monday afternoon, I got the Blue Beetle back from my mechanic Mike, who is the automotive repair equivalent of Jesus Christ himself. Either that or Dr. Frankenstein.’ ~Harry


Check out my other Dresden Files reviews:

#1 – Storm Front

#2 – Fool Moon

#3 – Grave Peril

#4 – Summer Knight

#5 – Death Masks

#7 – Dead Beat

#8 – Proven Guilty

#9 – White Night

#10 – Small Favor

#11 – Turn Coat

#12 – Changes

#12.5 – Side Jobs

#13 – Ghost Story

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