Book Review: Jim Butcher’s Cold Days

Posted January 11, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jim Butcher’s Cold Days

Cold Days


Jim Butcher

It is part of the The Dresden Files #14 series and is a urban fantasy that was published by ROC on November 27, 2012 and has 515 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Mean Streets, Changes, Side Jobs, Ghost Story, Dark and Stormy Knights, Aftertaste, Hex Appeal, Welcome to the Jungle, Dangerous Women, Storm Front, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Fool Moon, Skin Game, Blood Rites, Death Masks, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, Shadowed Souls

Fourteenth in The Dresden Files urban fantasy series based in Chicago and revolving around Maeve’s new Winter Knight. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the The Dresden Files books on my website.

My Take

This was cold to read, and it didn’t feel like Butcher’s writing. Although, Harry is Mab’s Winter Knight, and twelve hours in, he’s already feeling the cruelty of the Winter mantle sinking into him, so perhaps the chill to the words is intended.

This one is so sad in so many ways. No one has a chance of winning. Becoming the Winter Knight has more traps than a beaver dam in the Old West as Harry discovers when his personality begins to devolve. Friends react different than he expected, and most of them are angry to some degree. His true friends are still here, but there’s a reticence now.

Okay, I did appreciate Bob’s story about the truth behind how we celebrate Halloween. Although the list of former Winter Knights…eeek! It is not looking good for Harry’s future.

Ooh, I want one of those Raith contingency cards..!

In typical Dresden-fashion, there’s all the bantering and snark—you’ll crack up to Charlie Brown and Lucy, Star Wars, Ming the Merciless, Santa, Norse mythical beings, Girl Scouts, James Bond, a nod to Scotty of Star Trek… Bright bits of laughter in between the seeming hopelessness of it all. It always amazes me how deeply in trouble Harry can sink, and yet, he always manages to come out on top. That Butcher is just twisted!

Titania’s general outlook makes perfect sense, and I find it hard to condemn her for her particular anger. BUT, she needs to cut Harry more slack. As for Mab, well I never thought of her and reason, logic, and calculation as occupying the same mind.

Phew, events in Cold Days are digging Harry in deeper, making Butcher’s Dresden-world even more of a nightmare than ever.

You really can’t miss this installment—it holds a number of critical changes as well as an abject lesson in adhering to Winter law.

The Story

Harry Dresden died in Changes, but he’s just too hard to kill as Mab learns as she tries, on a daily basis, to kill him again while he’s undergoing physical therapy in the Winter Court.

It’s an impossible situation with layers upon layers of plans and traps with betrayals galore and contagion lying in wait.

The Characters

Harry Dresden is a wizard for hire as a private investigator. Well, he was. Now he’s the Winter Knight for Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness, the Winter Lady. Lloyd Slate was the previous knight whom Harry dispatched. A very bad man. Maggie is Harry’s daughter; she’s living with Michael Carpenter and family these days as is Mouse, a Tibetan temple supernatural dog.

Major General Toot-toot of the Sir Za Winter Lord Knight’s Guard and his troops are driving the hearse that Sith arranges for Harry. Little Folk bribed with pizza. Hey, it’d work for me!

Sarissa is Harry’s “nurse” and Maeve’s twin. Sith is a malk and the Cat Sith, a very powerful, albeit snarky, one, assigned by Mab to aid Harry. Maeve, a.k.a., Darth Barbie, is Mab’s daughter and suddenly friendly with Lily, the Summer Queen (Titania is the Summer Lady of Faerie). Leanansidhe is fey and Harry’s godmother. She still has to be paid… She’s also been working with Molly. Fix is the Summer Knight. Mother Winter shares a house with Mother Summer, night and day in terms of temperament.

The attendees at Harry’s birthday part include Eldest Gruff, a powerful goat; the Erlking, a.k.a., Lord Herne; Kringle; the Redcap, who is one of Maeve’s and wears a Cincinnati cap; and, a rawhead and an ogre, allies of the Redcap. Ace is part of their little team. Hook, a.k.a., Lacuna, is one of the tough enemy small fey who attack.

Molly Carpenter, a.k.a., Grasshopper, was Harry’s apprentice when he was alive. Now, she has a snazzy new apartment in a very secure building. Thomas is Harry’s brother, a vampire of the White Court. Justine is still with him. Karrin Murphy was a cop with the Chicago PD. Waldo Butters is another friend of Harry’s, and the keeper of Bob the Skull. Andi, one of the werewolves, appears to be living with Butters. Ebenezar is Harry’s grandfather; Maggie LeFey had been Harry’s mother. Mike Atagi is the mechanic Mr. Etri, the svartalve who owns Molly’s building, uses; he’s also Harry’s old mechanic.

Lara is Thomas’ half-sister, a vampire, and the power behind the throne of the White Court. John Marcone is the crime lord of Chicago who built a castle over Harry’s old building. He’s “also the first mortal to sign on to the Unseelie Accords…and he’s the baron of Chicago”. Donar Vadderung is CEO of Monoc Securities. Mac owns McAnally’s pub, a neutral territory for the fey.

Demonreach is an unfindable island in Lake Michigan off Chicago’s shores. It’s where Harry did his initial recovery. Turns out it’s a lot more than a simple island no one can see, but its overseer as well, and it confirms Harry is a warden.

The White Council is supposed to be the good wizards. Ramirez is one of the wizards Harry likes and who should be hunting down Molly. Rashid is “a member of the Senior Council of the White Council of the Wizards”, and the Gatekeeper of the Outer Gates on the outer boundaries of Winter.

The Paranet is still operating, keeping everyone informed of Fomorian moves. Outsiders are, well, from outside our dimension, using psychic powers to attack.

The Cover

The cover is as chilly as the story with snow swirling around a be-hatted, full-length-coat-wearing wizard/knight cocking a Winchester as he stands in the midst of swirling snow on a spooky city street. It’s all blues, greys, and black—it’s enough to chill out your heart.

The title is the truth. These are some Cold Days in so many ways for Harry Dresden.