Review: Dan Humphrey's "Fade."
We have the successor to the Dresden Files.
Did you ever wish there was more of Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files?
You know, another good, solid, likeable hero who has the superpowers of magic, snark, and taking a beating like he's Jim Rockford?
No, not Iron Druid. I said a likeable and witty protagonist who is a hero. I'll talk about that series if Upstream Reviews ever gets around to reviewing trash.
Fade is the book that made me realize that if (God forbid) Jim Butcher dropped dead tomorrow, there is someone who could easily do for The Dresden Files what Brandon Sanderson did for The Wheel of Time.
Meet Daniel Humphreys, and his hero, Paxton Locke.
Paxton Locke has had a tough life. That’s what happens when one's mother sacrifices one's father in a demonic ritual. She also tried to add Paxton to the mix. Paxton's mother went to jail, and Paxton was left with hair and skin like an albino, and magical abilities. Now, Paxton makes his living as an investigator of the paranormal, and ridding homes of ghosts.
When a ghost warns Paxton of impending doom, he has to go straight to where all of his worst fears live: home.
The flap copy on the book described it as “Harry Dresden's sorcery goes on a Supernatural-style road trip. Cool car sold separately.” Frankly, the line isn't branding. It's fairly accurate. Despite having his own family drama, Paxton Locke is no where near as angsty as the Winchester brothers, whose own whining BS killed any interest I had in Supernatural, no matter how good the plots or the actors were.
Let's skip to the short version: This is NOT a Dresden knockoff, but most certainly a successor. Paxton wanders like the Winchesters, has a motorcycle like half of 80s action heroes, and an RV like ... no one. No one has an RV. At least no one who comes to mind. (Did anyone else even watch Midnight, Texas?)
But seriously, I’ve read Dresden knockoffs. THIS is the descendent of Harry Dresden.
Paxton Locke carries the book. Sure, there are a lot of similarities between Dresden and Locke. Locke is a snarky first person narrator who uses a lot of quips and media references, as well as guns. Hell, he even gets beaten up like Dresden, though Locke is much better at fixing himself. But that's about where the similarities end...
Also, the first client in the novel is a woman named Shirley Jackson, and her house is haunted.
Did I mention that the author is also a smartass?
Oh, yes, and the evil mother? Adjunct professor of cuneiform studies at the University of Chicago. Also, she was an evil vegan, which I know is redundant, but still. If you thought that Harry Dresden had family issues? Mommy dearest is freaking evil. And she has fan mail.
The ending was a wonderful setup for book two, setting up a villain and introducing new elements to be explored in the next book. Including one thing that I always noted that Harry Dresden seemed to lack -- more than just a local interest in magic.
(Seriously, Jim, if you're reading this, does everything go to Chicago? Nowhere else in America? We've had magic destroy entire buildings in odd and bizarre ways, and no Feds have ever put two and two together before Battle Ground?)
This follows the school of the "Hidden World" branch of Urban Fantasy.
I like the magic system. When it comes to most Urban Fantasy books, I've never really noticed or felt a cost for the magic in each system. With Harry Dresden, a wizard is literally a different species from humans. Here, magic has a concrete cost that has echoes and impacts on our hero, and other people can see just how much it costs him.
I even like this concept of ghosts, where they are less the soul of the departed and more like the echo of the pain and suffering they went through as they died... usually in terrible, horrible ways. I even like the grimoire, which has a personality of its own.
And then the Men in Black show up. Like Larry Correia's MHI series, the Feds know there's magic afoot. But they get developed more in book two.
Paxton rids people of ghosts and fights the literal forces of darkness, there isn't a lot of politics there.
If you want to stretch politics to fit the book, like Ghostbusters, Paxton Locke is an independent contractor who doesn’t play well with others, including the feds. He has multiple guns and charges what he sees fit for his services. And his mother is the worst sort of left-wing ideologue. Draw your own conclusions.
Parents sacrificing children and spouses, ghosts, zombies, demons, guns and violence.
Who is it for?
This is for any fan of Urban Fantasy, be it Jim Butcher or Larry Correia.
Why read it?
When I read Harry Dresden, if I didn't have a three in one volume, I never would have finished the series. Fade is book one of the series, and it's better than Storm Front or Fool Moon by Butcher. Unlike those two by Butcher, when I finished Fade, I was ready and rearing to go on book two. Granted, Butcher's magnum opus is better, if only in metric tonnage, but give Daniel equal time in terms of decades, and we'll see how they go toe to toe.
If you don't believe me about how awesome this is, read Fade and prove me wrong.
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