So in an effort to try and get the “flash” back into these “flash impressions” I’m going to try and stick with this format of listing the “A, B, C Story” for the summary. The way I figure, you’ve probably read this book and really this helps section out the pieces of the story. If you haven’t read this book, then I’m not entirely sure why you’re here? I mean, if you were looking for something to figure out if you wanted to read this series, let me say: yes. Go now. Read. (but first stay around here and read a bit because traffic numbers).
A Story: A wild Black Court Vampire appears!
B Story: Protect the Porn Stars!
C Story: Who the Fuck is Thomas?! (I felt there was a theme going here, ie the “?” and “!”)
(***spoilers ahead, duh***)
This book, more so than most of the previous seems to be split into two parts. Part one: puppies and porn stars; part two: white and black (court) vampires. This isn’t to say that the white and black court vampires aren’t present in the beginning of the book (they are there from the beginning) and that the puppy or porn stars go away half way through the book (they just play a smaller role). However it’s somewhere around the time when Dresden, Thomas, and Lara square off against the three black court vampires when the porn star part of the book ends.
Speaking of the fight with the black court vampires, I think I’ve read the best fucking death scene in the series. Like easily so far in the series and I will go on record to say it might be the best death scene in the series up to Skin Game. I’m not going to spoil it (it was a pretty fowl way to go though) but I will say it made me laugh so fucking hard that not only was I crying (all whilst at work) but I literally had to both pause the audiobook and rewind because I was missing parts of it over the volume of my laughter. Overall the entropy curse makes for some pretty great deaths even if the rest of the funny ones were off screen, regardless the award for “Best Deaths” goes to Blood Rites. (insert best deaths award meme)
Now back to the puppies. The book opens with maybe the best opening line of the series so far, “The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault.”
I personally feel like this line is Dresden in a nutshell: “I like playing with fire and I know it totally looks like it’s my fault since I’m running away from the scene of the crime, however it’s not what it looks like. I promise.” Now the reason the building is on fire is because Dresden is saving a box of puppies from a horde of demonic flying monkeys flinging their poo, which is on fire, after Dresden. You’d think “Huh, what big bad are we going to encounter that commands a fleet of flying monkeys who likes stealing puppies? Are we going to finally see Dresden fight a pop-culture-villain-who-is-just-different-enough-to-dodge-copyright-laws?” The answer: no(t yet). I thought this was a rather bold move because not only do we never see these monkeys (or their master) again in the book but also the person who hired Dresden to save the puppies is never seen again either even though not all of the puppies were recovered. The missing puppy grows up to be mouse and holy. Fuck. He is the cutest puppy in literature. He has three scenes that just stick out in my mind like a scene from a movie. The first was when Karen agrees to dog sit Mouse and he’s playing with a little Snoopy doll, which is a nice call back to book two, and with Snoopy in his growling shaking jaws he stops and sees Dresden and tail starts wagging. The Second was when Dresden placed Mouse in the back seat and was fighting a sock and was loosing. And the the third was towards the end just before Murphy’s family picnic when Mouse is in Harry’s coat pocket and hears Karen’s voice and starts wrestling around making funny shapes of the pocket until his little head pops out of the top. I kept finding myself unable not to smile in about every scene Mouse was in.
Speaking of heartfelt scenes involving the puppy, the scene where Dresden insists on soul gazing Thomas as proof that they’re half-brothers was heartbreaking. Since the beginning of the book, chapter two maybe, Dresden has been contrasted with Murphy and her ambivalent feelings towards her family gathering, specifically seeing her mother, the contrast being that Dresden doesn’t have any known living family and therefore cannot relate going as far as to call Murphy’s complicated and irrational feelings “familial dementia”. Fast forward several chapters back to the soul gaze and for the first time we get to see Harry talking to his Mother, even if it’s a construct from Thomas’s memory, which was a tear-jerker but then after the soul gaze Dresden’s reaction that he finally has what he kind of always wanted, someone to call family, he and Thomas have a happy-sappy reaction which causes puppy Mouse to come bounding over and jump up and down wagging his tail wanting to join in the joy even if he didn’t at all understand why. Puppies + feels = all the warm fuzzies.
I believe my last thought is mentioned right around the time of the soul gaze/half-bro reveal, which is something Thomas says that house Raith children are taught to memorise: “When every star in the heavens grows cold, and when silence lies once more on the face of the deep, three things will endure: faith, hope, and love.” This coupled with a quote from Butcher saying that the final trilogy of his books will be called “Stars and Stones, Empty Night, and Hells Bells” makes for an interesting juxtaposition being we may be given the theme for each of the final books: Faith, Hope, and Love.
One last note, as of the events of the end of this book, the being known as “He Who Walks Behind” is now back in the mortal realm. This is the same creature that Dresden’s adoptive and generally piece of shit parent, Justin, summoned to kill Dresden. Dresden was the last one to banish “He Who Walks Behind” however “He Who Walks Behind” has made a vow to come back for Dresden. Just something to keep in the back of our, collective, minds.
Blood Rites is an extremely solid book and lays the groundwork for future plot points which both advance the overall story and build the world in equally amusing and complicated ways. The ending of the book was a particular a stroke of mastery by having Thomas move in, Dresden decides to keep the puppy and muses about how his apartment might be small and growing smaller but at least now he has people to fill it with and capping the book off with the line “Why did you get large breed Puppy Chow?”
Stay tuned for next week when I finally cover the second book, Fool Moon or as I have taken to calling it: the bastard child of the series.