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Jim Butcher

Orbit (2010)

ISBN: 978-1-84149-920-8

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

This has to be one of the best collections of short stories related to a massively popular novel series that I’ve come across. Very often, novellists are not brilliant in the short form (and vice versa), but Butcher manages quite nicely at both, and the stories collected in Side Jobs prove this. Containing both original and reprinted works, Side Jobs somehow stands alone as a collection following the exploits of a particular character, while at the same time filling in gaps for anyone who is a fan of the novels. I have read a couple of the Dresden Files novels, but not nearly all of them, and this collection really impressed – I never felt lost in the storytelling or characters, as each story was self-contained, while still adding to the larger narrative.

I had read a few of the pieces in other anthologies, but the context of time frame of where the stories sit in the Dresden universe, combined with the author forewords to each piece, helped with the reading experience immensely. Starting with the first of the Harry Dresden stories (both in the sense of when it was written, as well as when it takes place in the Dresden chronology), is “A Restoration of Faith”, a piece only published before on Butcher’s own website. While Butcher actually apologises for the story in the introduction to it, suggesting it is “a novice effort”, I quite enjoyed it, feeling it embodied the sense of fun dashed with darkness that imbues the Dresden stories. It was also a good introduction to some of the key players of Harry’s world.

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