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MirrorMask (children's edition)
Neil Gaiman
The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories, Volume One: Where on Earth
Ursula K. Le Guin
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
Maud Hart Lovelace
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde, Camille Cauti
Riders of the Purple Sage
Zane Grey
Vampires, Zombies, & Wanton Souls
Marge Simon
Storm Front - Jim Butcher Butcher's "Storm Front" had lovable and despicable aspects to it. On the (mostly) lovable side - the oh-so-human wizard Harry Dresden. By telling the story from Dresden's point of view, Butcher allows us to see the light and dark sides of Harry's character. Instead of being a stoic wizard who hides behind great magical powers, Harry shows fear and insecurity, bleeds, gets depressed and angry, is clumsy, and stumbles about as a ridiculously chauvinist male. It's this last characteristic that makes him (or is Butcher the raving chauvinist?) despicable.

The passage that reeked the most to me (and to other reviewers, I've noticed) was this one about a murder scene: "I gestured toward the room. 'Because you can't do something that bad without a whole lot of hate,' I said. 'Women are better at hating than men. They can focus it better, let it go better. Hell, witches are just plain meaner than wizards. This feels like feminine vengeance of some kind to me.'" Misogynistic generalizations much? And as other reviewers have pointed out, this isn't the only example of Harry being a turd.

Really, I wanted to love Harry. I loved his vulnerability and his moments of tenderness with Murphy. Why did Butcher have to muck it up by turning Harry into Jim Carrey with an Archie Bunker complex? Simply put, there's no "had to" about it. Harry's male chauvinism is not essential to the story.

What about the story? Enjoyable for the most part. The Laws of Magic - particularly "thou shalt not kill" and the forbidding of the "binding of any being against its will" - spoke to my Christian pacifist side. I loved Butcher's depiction of the world as one big Celtic "thin place" where natural and supernatural intermingle constantly. Butcher's world is one where ethical wizards use Jolt Cola as a base in potions and need to borrow cars from brothel and tavern owners to get around - about as far from epic and high fantasy realms as you get. Harry represents both the mundane and imminent, powerful magic. These story elements make me want to read more of "The Dresden Files". I do hope the misogynistic elements of "Storm Front" prove to be exception rather than rule, however.