For those of you who don’t know, I am a huge Jim Butcher fan. I love the Dresden Files and Cinder Spires and I’m trying to work my way through Codex Alera (high fantasy like that isn’t usually my cup of tea). Jim has a son who just wrote a book, and color me friggin surprised that Jim has an adult son because he does not look old enough to have an adult son.
Jim’s son is James. This will probably be confusing for a while. James J. Butcher just recently published his first urban fantasy novel, Dead Man’s Hand via Penguin Random House publishing. I bought this book because I figured if he was anything like his father, I’d love his writing too. This novel is brand spanking new, so BEWARE THE SPOILERS.
This novel is very much a first novel. Not that I’m by any means a writing expert, but I am a voracious reader. The world needs to be filled out a bit more. The writing needs to be polished a bit more. But there’s tons of potential in James’s world. Dead Man’s Hand is apparently the first in at least three books, featuring 19 year old witch Grimshaw Griswald Grimsby. That’s a hell of a name, right off the bat. And yes, witch is the term used in the books. It appears to be non-gender specific in this world.
Grimsby is a failed witch. An accident as a child left it painful for him to do complex magic. He only has a handful of tricks he can do without hurting himself. What he wanted to be, above anything else, was an Auditor. Auditors appear to be the magical cops of this world. He failed his training because he can’t do all the things Auditors are supposed to do. The book starts with him doing cheap tricks for kids birthday parties in a crappy, Chuck E Cheese style restaurant. Thanks to the person who ran him out of the Auditors training, Samantha Mansgraf, putting his name (in blood) at the scene of her death, he’s about to go on a terrible journey with someone called The Huntsman. They have to figure out who killed her and over what before Grimsby also dies.
I won’t go into too many details, as this book has only been out for about a week, but Grimsby is kind of a coward. He definitely has self esteem issues. Still, because he’s the book’s protagonist, he finds himself overcoming these things to do the right thing in the end. The Huntsman is basically a killer. Not really sure of his back story yet. He’s lost a spouse at some point not too long ago, because he’s drinking himself to death when we’re introduced to him. He’s a seasoned investigator, so this is kind of a magical buddy cop book.
I’d recommend checking it out and supporting a new author, but remember that this is James’ first ever novel. You can tell, but don’t let it put you off. This world has some real potential. Rating: B-/B. Check out this VIDEO of Jim Butcher interviewing his son James. There’s a point toward the end where Jim said that he’s read the second book and that it’s leaps better than the first one. That gives me hope that the second book will be pretty good.