”Here, together for the first time, are the shorter works of #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher – a compendium of cases that Harry and his cadre of allies managed to close in record time. The tales range from the deadly serious to the absurdly hilarious. Also included is a novella exclusive to this collection that takes place after the cliff-hanger ending of the April 2010 hardcover, Changes. This is a must-have collection for every devoted Harry Dresden fan as well as a perfect introduction for readers ready to meet Chicago’s only professional wizard.”
Thoughts: Side Jobs is exactly what it sounds like – little vignettes of jobs Harry has solved between the big cases that make up the canon. In them, readers get a chance to see Harry unwind and relax, hang with friends, and continue to master his usage of sarcasm. None of the short stories are necessary to understand the novels. However, because they occur over the span of the first twelve novels, one does get a better appreciation of Harry’s growing maturity and magical prowess.
What makes Side Jobs so enjoyable is the fact that Mr. Butcher plays around with narrators. One particularly effective story is told from Thomas’ point of view. Not only is it amusing to see Harry’s antics from an outside perspective, a reader can appreciate just how dangerous vampires from the White Court truly are – something that is difficult to discern from the novels themselves. Readers also get more than a glimpse of Mac and his famous beer, as well as some amusing but poignant what-ifs between Harry and Murphy.
The best part of the collection, and by far the most difficult to enjoy because of what it means, is the novella that takes place after Changes. Told from Murphy’s point of view, it is equal parts devastating, hilarious, and touching. Being able to see the world through Karin’s eyes is fun, especially with her “understanding” of the male brain and issues with her stature. Yet, the reasons for Karin taking over as narrator only heightens anticipation for the next novel.
Because of the different narrators, as well as voicing Mr. Butcher’s explanations prior to each short story, Side Jobs provides a bit of a narrational challenge. Luckily, James Marsters is more than up to the task, as always. What is remarkable about Mr. Marsters’ performance is that after twelve novels and Side Jobs his vocalization of each character remains consistent. Someone who has listened to all twelve stories will know immediately when Harry is not the narrator for one of the short stories. There is nothing for a listener to do but sit, relax, and enjoy the story because Mr. Marsters does all of the hard work. Mr. Marsters may not be the best audiobook narrator around, but he is the best for the Dresden series.
Side Jobs does a great job of whetting a reader’s appetite between books twelve and thirteen in the series. The individual short stories focus on the characters more than the action, providing an increased richness to the series at large. A reader will finish Side Jobs with a greater appreciation for Harry, Karin, Thomas, the Leanansithe, and all of his friends and family. Now, bring on book thirteen!
Acknowledgments: Mine. All mine.