Read by James Marsters
Length: 18 Hrs 50 Min
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Quick Thoughts: Cold Days reinvigorated my love for this series. Butcher takes everything you think you know about The Dresden Files and smashes it, twisting and pulling it like taffy. He expands his world in amazing new directions, answering questions you never knew you where asking, while creating whole new realties to deal with.
The Dresden Files series will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s really was the gateway series that got me interested in, not just Urban Fantasy, but Urban Fantasy audiobooks. Before the Dresden Files, I can’t remember very many ventures into Urban Fantasy, and the ones I did attempt didn’t go over very well. I have taken a very weird road into Science Fiction and Fantasy fandom, nowhere near the traditional geek cultural road taken by many fans of speculative fiction. I was never into comic books as a kid, and enjoyed Stark Trek and Star Wars as isolated bits of fun, but in no way was an obsessive SF geek. When Scifi writers make clever Dungeons and Dragons references on Twitter I am basically lost. I read the staples, Narnia and The Hobbit as a kid, a few Star Wars books as a teenager but mostly I stuck to Legal Thrillers, Detective stories and other ,mysteries. My first dedicated sojourn into speculative fiction was through horror, where I found my first real literary obsession, Post Apocalyptic fiction. Through Post Apocalyptic fiction, I began moving into Science Fiction and Fantasy, expanding being apocalyptic novels to Space Operas and Portal Fantasies. I knew nothing of fairies or ghouls, and most of my vampires where of the Stephen King Variety, and pretty bare fanged basic. To this day, I don’t know what inspired me to pick up the first Dresden Files audiobook, but it opened a new window. Slowly, Butcher lured me in with wizards, and werewolves, things I have had literary experiences with before, but then slowly began to introduce me to new aspects of fantasy, for me at least. Now, while I’m still playing on the edges of the urban fantasy world, now, Harry Dresden convinced me to at least put my toe in the water.
Cold Days is the 14th novel in the Dresden Files, and more importantly, the start of a new story arch in the course of the series. If The Dresden Files was a TV show (I know, I know) Changes would have been a Season Finale, and Cold Days the premiere of the next season, with Ghost Story serving as a fun little Teaser special branching the two main arches. Harry Dresden is now, for better or worse, The Winter’s Knight, and must do the bidding of the Winter Queen Mab. Yet, when Mab gives him an assignment that is seemingly impossible, the assassination of an immortal, Harry gets drawn into a complicated chess match between an unseen new enemy and the allies of reality itself. To make matters worst, Harry must battle the mantel of the Winter’s Knight’s attempts to change him, while his friends and allies are not sure they can really trust him. In Cold Days, Butcher takes everything you think you know about Harry and the world of the Dresden Files, and smashes it, twisting and pulling it like taffy. He expands his world in amazing new directions, answering questions you never knew you where asking, while creating whole new realties to deal with. It amazes me how far we have come from the world we first met in Storm Front. Nothing is the same, yet Butcher stays true to the essence of the characters, despite outside forces trying to change them. I was so enthralled by this story, going through a plethora of emotions, from pure exhilaration to heartbreak. While I loved Changes as a novel, I was scared about the direction it would force the series into. Butcher convinced me, that despite my doubts, he has a plan and its one well worth following. Cold Days simply reinvigorated my love of this series, making me excited for what is yet to come for Harry and his cohorts. Even knowing that what is coming is probably going to break my heart as much as entertain me doesn’t diminish my desire to take the journey.
So, Ghost Story happened. I think I was one of the very few that didn’t insta-hate John Glover’s performance. I sort of liked it in fact, and gave a pretty positive review garnishing some negative responses. That being said, John Glover isn’t Harry Dresden. Perhaps he could be ghost Harry Dresden with the sniffles, but he is not Harry Dresden. James Marsters is Harry Dresden, and proves it once again in his reading of Cold Days. Marsters is one of the few narrators who I think I enjoy more every time I listen to him. There were moments in this novel, when Harry would be shouting his spells, calling down Fire, Force or Ice that I got the chills. Marsters narrates this like Harry himself, through the full brute strength of his will. It is straightforward and powerful, maybe not as nuances as some narrators, but perfect for the world that he is bringing to life. Marsters proves that he knows these characters, that he has grown with them, and he is their voice. He has easily captured the rhythms of Butcher’s writing delivering them with an almost cinematic quality. If you are a fan of The Dresden Files audiobooks, you too will feel the chills to have Harry back as we have grown to know him.
Note: Special Thanks to Penguin Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.