Death Masks (Jim Butcher) book review

The fifth book of The Dresden Files is a damn good book. Two major plots wind their way through the book: a hunt for the Shroud of Turin, and a duel with one of the major vampires of the Red Court, but it is the character interactions that make me like this one so much. Butcher is primarily dealing with the themes of temptation and sacrifice, and he has a strong cast of characters at his disposal, not least Michael Carpenter and Susan Rodriguez.

The plot of this book introduces another of the big nasties of the series: the Fallen, who possess humans to do their dirty work, giving their hosts tremendous powers in the process. The chief of the Fallen, Nicodemus is a brilliant character who is able to talk and plan in addition to being an antagonist, so he’s not instantly forgettable. Between him and Ortega, the Red Court vampire, there’s a host of action in the book, but not at the expense of characterisation. There’s quite a few characters active in this book, all with their own motivations. With many working at cross-purposes with Harry’s, you get an involved and complex book.

It’s not confusing, however. Butcher handles all the plotlines and characters with great skill and dexterity, and creates a particularly moving book. Butcher’s writing has come a long way since Storm Front, and The Dresden Files is now of a consistently high quality. There are quite a number of great characters introduced in this book, and I’m glad to say that many of them will return in later books.

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