Blessed Ash Wednesday, everyone!
My name is Aislinn Gibson, but you can call me Ashe. As Matthew mentioned, I’m the new kid on the block. I’m so happy to be a part of this crazy family and to share amazing stories with all of you!
I can’t think of a better tale to start off with than one of my favorites. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files,” I couldn’t recommend it enough! This series has a little something for every reader. Monsters. Suspense. Family drama. Love. Fire. You name it; it’s in there. It’s expertly written, filled to the brim with fascinating characters with complex relationships. Best of all, the action never lets up for long. If that’s not enticing enough, listen to the opening line from the sixth book, Blood Rites:
“The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault.”
If that doesn’t jump off the page and excite, I don’t know what does. The adrenaline rush starts with 10 simple words. It just screams, “Buckle up. You’re in for the ride of you life.” But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s check out what the first five chapters of Blood Rites are all about.
Remember how I was tricked into auditioning for this blog? Yes, it was through posting my running commentary on the official Catholic Geek Facebook discussion group for this exact book. What you are about to read is an adaption of my initial reactions to my first read-through.
By the way, from here onward there will be spoilers, so if you haven’t read it and don’t want too many details you might want to turn back.
“The building was on fire and it wasn’t my fault.” In true Butcher fashion, this book grabs your attention from the very beginning. Our favorite wizard is known for setting buildings on fire, so in a way it’s a relief to know it wasn’t him this time. On the other hand, what actually is burning down the school makes you rather it was Harry’s fault. Three gigantic, purple demon-monkeys are hurling magical napalm at our hero.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Giant. Purple. Demon. Monkeys.
With magic napalm.
Now you may be wondering what on earth got Harry into this mess – since by now we know he’s really good at getting himself into trouble. No, it’s not saving the world. It’s not even hunting these things.
Harry was contracted by a bunch of Tibetan monks to rescue a litter of grey Tibetan mastiffs from the evil monkeys’ clutches. Apparently, these little fuzzballs are believed to be descended from an ancient divine spirit. Naturally, being the only professional wizard in the area and low on funds, Harry took the job – despite the fact he’s a cat person. With Thomas as the getaway driver and a crazy display of magic, Harry barely managed to escape the burning school. Once they arrived at O’Hare International Airport, Harry dropped off the pups and collected his fee, counting his money as he walked back to the car.
Now, I looked up what this breed looks like as puppies, and they are absolutely adorable. See?
How can you say no to that sweet little face? That’s a trick question. You can’t.
Now, for a visual, take that little puppy, put a notch in his ear, and give him an “I’m an adorable, ferocious guard dog” attitude. That is what stowed away in Harry’s Blue Beetle. Instead of staying in the box with the other puppies so he could go home, this little guy decided he wanted to stay with Harry and fight off more baddies. Besides, he just met his new buddies, Harry and Thomas.
You all remember Thomas from Grave Peril, right? He was the White Court vampire, who was at Bianca’s wonderful mansion, the one that Harry burnt to the ground. That time the fire was his fault, and it started a war between the Red Court vampires and the White Council. Thomas was also Count Ortega’s second in the duel that took place in Death Masks (Book 5).
Now that our memory’s been jogged, let’s continue!
Thomas wasn’t just hanging out with Harry for old time’s sake. He needed a favor. A… film producer and friend was being cursed with the malocchio, the Evil Eye. His driver, named Stacy Willis, and his personal assistant, Sheila Barks, both died under the most mysterious and improbable circumstances. Reluctantly, Harry agreed to help and they drove to Arturo Genosa’s condo to see what exactly this job entails.
It was a nice, easy drive with really no hiccups whatsoever.
A squeaky little growl alerted Harry to danger (and the presence of a furry stowaway). Black Court vampire was posing as the security guard for the complex, and attacked the blue Beetle with unearthly speed. If it wasn’t for the little pup under Harry’s seat, both Thomas and Harry probably would have been exterminated at best. Harry concluded after a very narrow escape that Marve (the Queen of the Black Court) had taken exception to what Harry did to Bianca. One more target on Harry’s back.
He’s also now stuck with a puppy until he finds someone to take him in. Harry insisted he’s not keeping the little hairball. He’s a cat person after all, and Mister probably won’t like the competition.
In one piece (surprisingly enough), Harry and Thomas made it to Arturo’s condo. They were led to a back room, where Harry is finally introduced to the client. They talked a little shop and it’s decided that Harry would assume the role of Production Assistant while on the case. It’s also revealed that Arturo wasn’t exactly lucky when it comes to love. The condo they’re meeting in is currently owned by his first ex-wife, Madge; his third ex-wife, Trixie, is going to be the star of the movie they are shooting, and his second ex-wife, Lucille, hates his guts. In fact, Arturo was the first to name Lucille as someone interested in his business venture failing.
While they were working through the details, Arturo was pulled away by a phone conversation, and Thomas was reunited with Justine. Their meeting was initially very sweet, but then turned slightly dark. Being a White Court vampire, Thomas feeds off of passion. He’s been only drawing this from Justine for the past four years, but something is off. His skin turned pale and we got a glimpse of the monster-side.
GAAA!! NO! Not like THAT!
Anyway, back to the book.
Given his experience with vampires, Harry took exception to Thomas’s “mind-mojo.” They got into a small argument but were interrupted when Arturo returned.
Harry shambled home and talked to Bob for a bit about the new case and Thomas. As it turns out, the Hunger within a White Court vampire will eventually become too strong to resist. Thomas has been fighting back this need, because he truly cares for Justine and doesn’t want to hurt her. This could be problematic though, as sweet as it is. By starving himself, Thomas is weakening both physically and mentally, and it’s getting harder for him to control the impulse to feed. There’s even a chance that Thomas will go completely feral and accidentally kill her one day.
This won’t cause any problems in the future. Harry totally forgives him for getting Justine hooked on vampire mojo. No bad blood there.
Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and read further to find out.