Book Review: “Death Masks” by Jim Butcher

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Death Masks
by Jim Butcher

In this fifth novel in The Dresden Files, Chicago’s only professional wizard defies a prophecy of his own death to take on a case that involves fallen angels, a plague curse, and the theft of the Shroud of Turin. As if that isn’t enough, he faces a vicious Red Court vampire from South America in a duel that could end the war between wizards and vampires… if he lives to fight it. And finally, he rekindles an old flame with Susan, who is only a drink away from completing her transformation into a vampire herself.

Only Susan’s willpower, her vows to a secret organization, and a weird pattern of tattoos prevent her from drinking Dresden the minute she sees him. Two kinds of hunger battle it out with love caught between them in an erotic subplot that promises to keep Harry’s romantically tortured edge keen and bright for several books to come. Meanwhile, the wizard’s relationships with a White Court vampire named Thomas, a paladin named Michael, and his order of angelic-sword-wielding do-gooders, continue to deepen. A heavenly calling falls into Dresden’s hands, one he is not sure he can ever live up to; and a new darkness enters his life as well, straight out of the depths of hell.

Like the other Harry Dresden novels, this book comes with a matched pair of “adult” and “occult” content advisories. Sensitive readers, and parents who care to be involved in their children’s literary lives, should be advised that there is a steamy love scene in these pages. Plus, the magic depicted in this novel includes arcane rituals, the summoning of spirits, and (in its darker, more evil forms) blood sacrifice. Take these concerns under advisement before deciding if this book is for you or your kids. Also be aware that it is full of edge-of-your-seat danger, gruesome violence, strange alliances, terrifying monsters, magical surprises, and a steady patter of wry humor that guarantees at least a chuckle on almost every page. If you ever fantasized about Harry Potter’s grown-up career as a hard-boiled crime fighter, with such stylish touches as a leather duster and an old-school VW Beetle—or even if you just like your crime novels sexy, funny, and with a touch of magic—The Dresden Files may be the very thing.