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This latest book in The Dresden Files series may be the best yet. It felt as much of a homecoming for me as it was for Chicago’s only professional wizard, Harry Dresden—finally back to his human form after spending his time in the last book as an unappreciated ghost. The new wrinkle is that his recovery from a fatal shooting has come courtesy of Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, and there was a price: Harry is now her new Winter Knight, a job previously held by a world-class sadist, and he must do as she bids. The seductive new power, which gives him control over ice and cold, comes with pre-programmed cretin settings which Harry must suppress if he wants to retain his humanity. As usual in this series, however, Harry must adjust to his new circumstances on the fly—someone is about to open the door to a literal well of demons (established by Merlin himself) hidden on an uncharted Lake Michigan island. If they are successful, the human populace, including Harry’s young daughter, will die.

There is a lot going on in this novel but it’s not all doom and gloom and Faery Queens and Ladies with agendas on top of rampaging hormones. There’s a lot of humor in Dresden’s interactions, mostly because Harry has a gift for taking the edge off life-and-death situations with understatement and snark. Best of all, he gets his old Scooby gang together to help: Karrin, a former Chicago police detective with a Harley and her own arsenal; Butters, a medical examiner turned expert on all things supernatural; Andi, Butters’ werewolf girlfriend; Toot, a winged faery warrior and pizza fanatic; Thomas, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire and Harry’s brother; Bob, a once-powerful wizard, now disembodied occult encyclopedia, who is confined to a skull; and Molly, Harry’s sensitive and talented apprentice. Harry’s friends have been through a lot either with him or on his behalf and it is a testament to his basically good heart that they continue to sign up for more.

The action is continuous and surprising and Butcher does a great job making sure there are no unanswered questions. I love imagining Dresden and his crew keeping the streets of Chicago safe from Nevernever incursions; every city needs a wizard. Oh, and Santa Claus, who makes a key appearance, is a total badass. Like I’ve been saying: Fun.

Check out more of The Dresden Files books as well as new graphic novel additions on Jim Butcher’s website.

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