Fool Moon: A potent blend of action, magic, snarkiness, vulnerability

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review The Dresden Files 2. Fool MoonFool Moon by Jim Butcher

In Fool Moon, Harry Dresden’s second adventure, Jim Butcher gives us four flavors of werewolf — or five, if you want to be flexible.

Harry, Chicago’s only practicing wizard-detective, is called to the scene of a gory murder by his friend and client Karrin Murphy. Murphy, a Chicago police detective, is in charge of Special Investigations (SI), Chicago’s nod to the paranormal crime that fills the city. Chicago PD is unofficial on this investigation though; it is the jurisdiction of the FBI, and while Harry is investigating the scene the FBI shows up. Things immediately go bad. Murphy and Harry are evicted from the scene, but not before Harry picks up enough magical clues to identify this as a werewolf hit.

As they leave the scene, Murphy admits that this killing is not the first. There is a pattern to the killings, or has been until recently. When Harry begins to explore, the pieces of the puzzle don’t quite fit. There have been random murders on the full moon, and some murders that do not seem so random on nights when the moon is not completely full. Aided by Murphy and Susan Rodriguez, Harry’s girlfriend and Nightstalker-like reporter, Harry soon uncovers a connection to organized crime and John Marcone, the powerful mob boss we met in Storm Front. There is also, strangely, a connection to a millionaire who wants to create a wilderness preserve in the northwest.

As the book progresses, Harry must untangle the threads of the mystery. Is the killer a lycanthrope, a human who takes on the attributes of a wolf while staying in human form; a loup-garou, who, when the moon is full, transforms into a savage monster, driven only to kill; a werewolf, someone who can transform but maintains the pack mentality and loyalty of a true wolf; or a hexenwolf, a person with an enchanted talisman who assumes a wolf shape but is driven by a human mind and motives? Before the book is over, Harry meets each one of these. Then there is Tera, a mysterious woman with connections to both the loup-garou and the band of college-student wolves Harry discovers. The book is full of wolves, but Butcher manages to keep control of his story.

Murphy, meanwhile, is having some trouble trusting Harry when a magical doodle she gets from him is found at the scene of one of the murders. This felt a bit contrived; it is understandable that Murphy won’t always understand Harry’s motives, but this really seemed like a moment where two uninterrupted sentences from each of them would have resolved the issue. It is needed, though, to get Harry and another character into the police station at the same time for an action-packed fight scene. I also had a little trouble with the loup-garou. I thought Butcher needed to massage the laws of physics a little bit more for this monster.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe climax takes place at Marcone’s palatial estate. At times, I had trouble placing the action geographically in this sequence, but the final showdown between Harry and the villain is primal, visceral, Butcher at his best. In between fighting, mixing potions, detecting, casting spells, and back-talking law enforcement, Harry reveals a little bit more about the dark episode with Justin, the sorcerer who found him and exploited him after he was orphaned.

Fool Moon delivers on the promise made in Storm Front, of a different kind of fantasy story, a potent blend of action and magic, snarkiness and vulnerability.
~Marion Deeds


book review The Dresden Files 2. Fool MoonThis is an impressive series. This one isn’t one of my favorites, probably because I don’t like werewolf stories, but the characters continue to develop and stakes get higher. The audio versions read by James Marsters are really terrific.
~Kat Hooper


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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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