Small Favor (Book 10)
This book is such a departure for Butcher. Though he’s not usually formulaic, he definitely tends to stay within the Sci Fi/ Fantasy wheelhouse. Reading this book felt like watching the movie Stay. It only really makes sense once you’re finished with the story. I can’t even tell you how masterfully this was written. I made it all the way to chapter 28 thinking that I had read past something and missed a huge point somehow, but no. Butcher was just toying with my head. I won’t tell you how or why, but I will tell you that, while it’s mildly disturbing at the time, it’s totally worth it in the end.
The last half of the book is mesmerizing. I read it entirely in one sitting. Butcher does an astounding job of building the story to the half way point because from there, it’s pretty much just BOOM. The plot takes off at a dead sprint.
Here’s the plot:
Gentleman Johnny Marcone had been kidnapped from his magical panic room that had been hidden beneath an empty apartment building. Mab, Queen of the Winter Sidhe, calls in a favor from Dresden. She needs him to get Marcone back. As Dresden searches for the mobster, he runs afoul of an old enemy, the Denarians, which involves the Knights of the Cross.
You guys, to say that hijinx ensue is to say that the Black Plague might have killed a few people a while ago. The level of tension in this book is fantastic. It’s not that Dresden moves from one battle to the next. It’s that while he’s in the middle of one battle he gets attacked by an epically huge gruff who is seriously angry that Dresden used iron to disable its little brother. (By epically, I mean has-trouble-fitting-his-shoulders-through-doors-individually-and-then-following-it-with-his-body-huge.)
Over the last three books, a larger story arc has been coalescing and I have to say, it’s added another level of complexity that’s totally welcome. In the Dresden Files books there’s usually a lot going on, but Butcher is a master juggler when it comes to keeping everything in the air. Throwing in the larger arc only added another dimension to the story to make it more real and more immediate for me.
As to the characters that we get to see in this book, my favorite is the Archive. The Archive is a little girl, around 12 years old, who has access to all of the world’s knowledge (past and present) in her mind. If something gets written down, it’s stored in the Archive. She is the ultimate Library of Alexandria. However, on one level she’s this hugely powerful magical being, but on another she’s just an innocent little girl who doesn’t have any family or friends. Dresden was the first person to give her a name that wasn’t “The Archive”, which only make Dresden more endearing to me.
In the end, this might be my favorite book Butcher has ever written. (It’s hard to ever call something definitively favorite.) I love a story where things aren’t always as they seem and if it has a few unexpectedly sharp twists and turns along the way then all the better. 5 ink bottles, of course.