Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

In addition to the novels, graphic novels, television show, and role playing game, there are The Dresden Files short stories and novelettes. The majority of these are collected in Side Jobs, which was published in 2010. It contains a story set before Storm Front and Welcome to the Jungle, and ends with a novella set just after Changes.

When we were initially discussing our The Dresden Files extravaganza, Garrett and I talked a bit on how we wanted to review Side Jobs. Because of timing in the publication schedule and the sheer amount of other Dresden material we collectively got our hands on, I only get one review to do for Side Jobs, not the potential three I could have taken up. So instead of talking about how much I loved each of the entries in Side Jobs, you’ll get a brief synopsis of some of my favorites.

“Something Borrowed”
It’s a big day: Billy and Georgia are getting married, and Harry is filling in as best man after Kirby lands in the hospital following Dead Beat. Except the bride is late, and no one can get a hold of her. Did she just get cold feet, or has something nefarious happened? As usual, there’s no one better than Harry to find out. “Something Borrowed” was initially published in the anthology My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding.

“Day Off”
Here’s the question asked in “Day Off,” originally published in the anthology Blood Lite: what does a professional wizard and member of the White Council get up to on his day off? Well… a lot of things that have nothing to do with rest and relaxation. While nothing Earth-shattering happens, Harry has to fight off a wanna-be wizard, help out a pair of Alphas, and just generally never get around to doing the things he wants to do. This is farcical on a scale that the Dresden Files seldom gets to, and it’s a lot of fun. “Day Off” takes place between Small Favor and Turn Coat.

Backupis a novelette that was originally published by Subterranean Press in a limited edition hardcover illustrated by Mike Mignola. For those who don’t like trawling eBay for like-new books, it’s included in Side Jobs. “Backup” is from Thomas’s point of view on a day he secretly follows Harry around and saves his bacon, all without letting Harry know that he’s even there. It’s one of two entries in the Dresden Files that do not feature Harry as the narrator, and chronologically fits between Small Favor and Turn Coat.

“The Warrior”
Originally published in the anthology Mean Streets, “The Warriror” is yet again set between Small Favor and Turn Coat. (With all that Harry gets up to between those two books, there should be a full novel in there somewhere!) Harry gets information that Michael Carpenter, former Knight of the Cross, and his family are in more danger than normal. Someone has their eye on the sword Amoracchius, and Harry’s not about to let some thief terrorize a house full of children (not to mention one of his friends) when the Carpenters don’t even have the sword anymore. This story has a definite theme running through it of the unintended consequences, both good and bad, that our actions have on other people.

This was a real treat. “Aftermath” takes place immediately after Changes and is from Murphy’s point of view. Harry has just been shot and there is little hope that he survived. Unfortunately, instead of investigating with her team, Murphy is forced to sit this one out while she’s under suspension for her actions during Changes. Instead, Bill of the Alphas knocks on her door and lets her know there’s trouble, and without Harry, it’s up to them to pick up the pieces. This is the second of two Dresden pieces that feature a narrator other than Harry, and it’s a wonderful treat to get into Murphy’s head.

Why you should read this book
Because somehow you haven’t gotten enough of The Dresden Files and need more things to feed your addiction. Also, because these are a lot of fun. Harry gets to go have adventures that may not be as life-and-death as what we usually see in the books, and Butcher gets to spend some time developing his extraordinary cast of secondary characters. And if at the end of this you’re still looking for more, Butcher has published some more Dresden shorts since Side Jobs was published. You can find a list of the next seven stories on Jim Butcher’s website, as well as an undated announcement for a future compilation entitled More Jobs.

About Janea Schimmel

Janea Schimmel
Janea is an avid fantasy reader who after college inexplicably found herself working in a library. She was the only one surprised by this strange turn of events. When not surrounded by books, she enjoys working on her own fantastical fiction (thereby restoring order to her universe by having a book nearby), as well as making music (clarinet, vocals, renaissance recorder), cooking, and honing various skills made obsolete by the industrial revolution.

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