Mar 29, 2010

Covering Covers: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher

Typically every spring marks the release of yet another entry in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. This spring is no exception with the debut of Changes, the 12th novel in the series, coming April 6th. But fans of the series will be excited to know that they don't need to wait another year to get more Dresden. Roc has decided to release all of Butcher's Dresden short stories to date in an HC anthology entitled Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files this October, along with a few brand new stories.

Here's the cover.
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath
 Here is the ToC
  • "Restoration of Faith" - (Read Online)
  • "Vignette" - (Read Online)
  • "Something Borrowed" -- from My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding
  • "It's My Birthday Too" -- from Many Bloody Returns
  • "Heorot" -- from My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
  • "Day Off" -- from Blood Lite
  • Backup -- novelette from Thomas' POV, originally published by Subterranean Press
  • The Warrior -- novelette from Mean Streets
  • "Last Call" -- from Strange Brew
  • "Love Hurts" -- from Songs of Love and Death
  • And exclusive, all-new material!
Regarding the cover, it's the standard Dresden cover by Chris McGrath which typically focuses on mostly on Harry. I don't love the focus on a single character but the point of this cover is to say "HEY DRESDEN FILES OVER HERE" and it that respect it succeeds tremendously. Butcher has reached the point where you could put almost anything on the cover. It breaks no new ground artistically or stylistic but it's commercial perfect. I'm not an author but I can guess which one most would choose (especially M.C. Newton). I do love the implied textures in the cover, giving it a very gritty, noir feel. Most Urban Fantasy covers don't have any stylistic direction. McGrath knows what he's doing.

Regarding the collection, I'm excited to get all of these short stories in one place. I've got a few of the Urban Fantasy anthologies in which they originally appeared but they are expensive when you only really want to read a few of the stories. [Confession: I've read a few of these stories in a Barnes and Noble coffee shop without buying the book]. Butcher is a great name to have on your anthology cover but the tone and content of his stories is decidedly different than the majority of the stories in those anthologies (paranormal romance anyone?). The stories themselves are as much fun as the full length adventures albeit more tightly focused. I've read probably 75% of them but The Dresden Files are fantastic enough for a reread.

If you haven't read The Dresden Files yet and aren't completely opposed to Urban Fantasy (some people hate vampires in all their forms), you are really missing out. You might have even read the 1st or 2nd novels and then gave up. The 1st and 2nd books (Storm Front and Foul Moon) are without a doubt the weakest books in the series (focusing on fairly generic vampire and werewolves) and they only get better. Butcher had some issues with plotting early on even though his narrative voice was there. In my opinion, I would say that Butcher's/Harry's voice is best male POV in Urban Fantasy. Butcher has progressed tremendously in his writing over the years and his books are fun, fast-paced, and addictive as hell.

Changes comes out April 6th and Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files hits shelves October 26th.

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