When I started reading this series I had no idea that it would become my favorite series of the past few years. It wasn’t until a few books past this that Jim Butcher cemented his series into my top favorite series, but it was Blood Rites that made me aware that I was reading something special. The opening scene did more than enough to make this very clear.
The book opens with Harry saving a box of Temple Dog puppies from demon monkeys. That throw incendiary poop. There is absolutely no other series out there that get away with this and not be considered low brow. Dresden Files may not be high literature, which is a good thing since I wouldn’t have read it, but somehow Butcher manages to take something that seems to pander to the lowest common denominator (poop jokes), and actually bring some class to it.
Or maybe I just like poop jokes.
After Harry saves the puppies, and drops them off with the Tibetan Monk who hired him to find them, him and Thomas, who was his driver for the case, go on to meet a friend of Thomas’. However, one of the puppies got out of the box he was carrying them in, and stayed in the car. It warns Harry right before a vampire attack.
After beating the vampire Thomas takes Harry to meet Arturo Genosa, a movie producer who hires him to investigate the deaths of two women close to him. Due to the strange circumstances of the deaths Harry realizes that they’re dealing with an entropy curse, most likely cast by an Italian practitioner known as a Strega. In order to prevent further deaths Harry goes undercover as a production assistant.
It isn’t till later that he discovers, much to Murphy’s amusement, that Arturo Genosa is a Pornography Producer.
Add in some vampires, of the White and Black Court varieties, along with the Strega, and Harry has more than enough trouble to deal with. But as he gets deeper into the mystery, Harry comes to realize that the disparate elements of this case just might be more connected than he first realized.
Part of what sets Blood Rites apart from the previous books is that it features one of Jim Butcher’s first great plot twists. As the series progresses he grows better and better at them, in some cases I’d say he beats out Shyamalan at the top of his game, but this is where it all started. I obviously won’t give it away, other than saying that it involves Thomas who I’m glad will be playing a bigger role in the series after this, but if you’ve been reading the series and haven’t found it to your taste, then Blood Rites will convince you to finish the series. While it isn’t the most clever plot twist, later plot twists are much better foreshadowed in the book while at the same time coming out of nowhere, the plot twist in Blood Rites stands apart as not only being the first of them, but also the only one that managed to get me teary eyed. That’s not easy to do. Granted it’s getting easier, but when a narrative pulls that off without background music to manipulate my emotions, that’s pretty impressive. In fact, I think it’s the only time that this series gets that kind of reaction from me.
A particular part of the book, that didn’t add anything to the overall story but managed to include some excellent character development, is a small side plot that Murphy has, involving issues with her mother, and an upcoming family reunion. Again, I won’t give anything away, but needless to say that while Murphy’s mundane side-plot should pale in comparison to the supernatural awesomeness going on, I have to admit that I found myself enthralled by it. It was plain, but intriguing, and a testament to Murphy’s strength as a character that I found myself so interested in her mundane troubles.
Blood Rites was great. It isn’t really one of the greats of the series, but it’s close there. Compared to the past books, Summer Knight had the better mystery, while Death Masks was overall a better story. But for me Blood Rites stands out simply because we see Butcher flexing his plot twist muscles, and pulling off something really great, that defines the rest of the series.
If you’ve gotten to this point, chances are you’re in for the haul. So there really isn’t much point to me saying that you should read this book. In that case I’ll just leave you with this, I loved this book and I love this series.