Cold Days by Jim Butcher is the 14th novel in the epic urban fantasy series The Dresden Files. I am happy to report that Cold Days is an excellent return to form after the misfit of the series: Ghost Story. There is literally no way for me to avoid spoilers in this review, so I highly suggest that anyone who does not want to experience the heart-wrenching agony of having a major plot point revealed by a heartless reviewer does not progress beyond this point.
I recognize that there is a sizable group of The Dresden Files community who truly enjoyed Ghost Story. While I admit that it was a creative take on the series, I ultimately felt lukewarm about the story because Harry Dresden, our favorite stand-up comedian masquerading as a wizard, spent most of the tale on the sidelines. Butcher’s solution to Harry’s “death” in Ghost Story, in which it is revealed that Harry was “not quite dead” (Monty Python orPrincess Bride style) was a bit too predictable. Regardless, Cold Days remedies my complaint immediately as Harry is thrust into a murderous plot that finds himself as the hitman (as the new Winter Knight) and his target as one of the most powerful women in all of faeire. If one of the major reasons that you enjoy the books is to experience what kinds of inventive and game-changing magic Harry will unleash, then this is a great entry in the series.
There is also a great deal of focus on Harry’s attempts to repair his relationships that have frayed during recent entries in the series, especially in regard to Karrin Murphy. Butcher does an excellent job of portraying the mixed-emotions that Harry’s friends experience as they realize that he is simultaneously alive and the tool of Queen Mab. Their distrust and wariness of Harry can be painful to read, but is ultimately highly realistic. The introduction of “The Outsiders” ramps up the stakes even higher than before, although I could not help but notice that “The Outsiders” are also exactly the same plot device as “The Vord” in Butcher’s highly under-appreciated Codex Alera series.
If you have made it this far into the series, I think it is fairly safe to assume that you have no intention of abandoning Harry’s journey. Regardless, Cold Days is one of the best entries in the series with a shocking surprise ending. One of Harry’s closest companions will never be the same after his latest brush with faerie.