Review: Turn Coat

Posted: August 6, 2009 by in Books that are Mediocre (3/5 single_star) Meta: Jim Butcher, Urban Fantasy

It is with irony that we, the superheroes of book reviews, feel betrayed by Jim Butcher‘s latest Dresden Files novel, TURN COAT (Amazon). We debated long over what we should say in regards to this novel, and more importantly, this series. How about a history lesson? No?

Too bad.

Back when Steve “used to be important” (sorry, inside joke) at the bookstore, one of his regular customers said he wouldn’t read another recommendation until Steve read the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. There were only seven books out in the series at the time. Steve read them, and thought they were great fun. He, in turn, forced his superior attitudes on Nick and Rob. They concurred as to the overall awesomeness of Harry Dresden, the Wizard P.I. in Chicago (it just sounds awesome huh?). Books 8 (Amazon) and 9 (Amazon) were released, and we figured we had found the golden series. Book 10 (Amazon) came out, and though it felt like nothing but pure setup for the rest of the series, we forgave Butcher. After all, Butcher wouldn’t betray us right? He wouldn’t turn on us would he?

Then TURN COAT came out (See what we did there? Clever huh?)

So that you can understand our displeasure at the end of the novel, let us pose a question. Have you ever watched a TV show (*cough*smallville*cough*) or read a comic where after all hell breaks loose, and all the important people die (or everything seems to get better, even), the show/book hits the Magic Reset Button? Suddenly everything is back how it was at the beginning? All the character growth is negated?

Welcome to TURN COAT.

That isn’t to say the book doesn’t have redeeming qualities. We get to see some of the characters that we don’t see much of, like Listens-To-The-Wind, for example who is a complete BAMF (We feel slimy referencing Dane Cook, but really there is no other way to describe this guy) in this book. Harry’s werewolf buddies have some real development, as well as a slew of other characters that have long since needed some attention.

It is with irony that we, the superheroes of book reviews, feel betrayed by Jim Butcher's latest Dresden Files novel, TURN COAT.

There are moral questions raised by multiple characters that would have been interesting had they been compounded with actual character development (See above for the magic reset button). Harry is shown to be a good guy, despite all of his darkness, by his actions in this book, but that is contradicted by Michael’s plot-line in this, and the last, book.

The writing, as usual, is top notch. The plot is centered around the search to uncover a traitor among the Wizards Council (Well duh right? Could it be anything else with a name like TURN COAT?). The mystery style of the book is well done, as we have come to expect from Butcher, though we nailed who the traitor was from his/her first appearance.

The bottom line? We think that Butcher realized he was only 11 books into a 22 book serious and ran out of ideas for conflict so instead of writing it in, he is just going to rehash what has been done in the series already. There is an awful lot of setup for the obviously massive conflict coming, and for that we thank Butcher. We just wish he could have done that without deciding to ignore the development of the previous 10 books.

Here is what we recommend: books 1-9 are great, read them and enjoy them for the popcorn-novels they are. As for books 10 and 11, if you feel like reading novels that make you pissed off, borrow them from a friend or library. Otherwise, leave them be until we read the 12th book next year and tell you if we have forgiven Butcher.

  • Recommended Age: 15+
  • Language: Yep, there was some. Nick, in fact, swore a lot when he finished the novel.
  • Violence: Sure, we got violent when we threw the novel at the wall across the room
  • Sex: We weren't in the mood after finishing. Our significant others were even more displeased at the effects of Butcher's novel than we were. Sad huh?

Look, Butcher is a good guy, and he has a great “How I got published” story. Hopefully TURN COAT was an aberration rather than the future of the series. Go visit his website and support him–he does deserve it for what he has done up until now–and will hopefully deserve it after Book 12 (Amazon) is released.

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