Warning: May contain spoilers for earlier Dresden Files novels.
In Blood Rites, the sixth installment in Jim Butcher’s bestselling The Dresden Files series, Harry’s acquaintance Thomas brings Harry a client who works in one of the most unlikely industries Harry has yet found himself in: adult film. It seems that the director/producer of a new studio thinks he is the target for a death curse, except it’s the women around him who are dying in unusual ways. It’s up to Harry to solve the mystery before anyone else winds up dead. To top this off, Mavra, a magic-wielding vampire, is back in town and aiming for Harry.
A word of warning
Notice the above: adult film industry. While Butcher stays away from the truly dark and dirty, you cannot escape the nature of the film set. Off the set, Thomas is a White Court Vampire, aka an incubus, thus extending the theme beyond the case specifics as Harry becomes unwittingly involved in White Court politics. There’s a lot of industry jargon that gets thrown around, and the entire book is colored with sex in one way or another, though Butcher stays far away from crossing the line into erotica. If this bothers you, this particular installment of The Dresden Files may not be for you. However, I do hope you’re willing to give it a try nevertheless, as Blood Rites has several redeeming qualities.
One of my favorite openings
There’s a lot of snark in this book, as one would expect from Harry. It starts out with a bang and just keeps giving as the book goes on. That being said, Harry starts out having a bad day, and the book doesn’t get much better for him as the story progresses. By the end, Harry’s lost a lot of his usual carefree snark, and is just tired and angry (as he has every right to be).
Things get complicated
This is one of the more convoluted books in The Dresden Files. Everything is interconnected, and it’s not always easy to figure out how. Even the ‘whodunit’ of the mystery thread isn’t easy to figure out. Every character in this book has their motivations for being present, and some of them are delightfully discreet in how they reveal their motives. Where Summer Knight expanded The Dresden Files out of Chicago, Blood Rites deepens the characters, with both series regulars and secondary characters getting the treatment. For me, it really marks a turning point in Butcher’s writing as he fleshes out more and more of his alternative world and the people who inhabit it.
Why you should read this book
This is a pretty major installment when it comes to Harry’s backstory, and skipping ahead means losing a lot of information that’s outright given to you as well as a few clues that get explained in later books. Blood Rites is also where Mouse, Harry’s second four-legged-companion, makes his spectacular entrance, and it would be a shame to miss it. While I wouldn’t enter into The Dresden Files with this novel, it is a solid installment and a good read all on its own. In fact, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this book until I went to re-read it for this review.