[Small Chirp] Harry Dresden around the world

Left to right: Turkish, Hungarian, German, Polish, Dutch

November 27 marks the upcoming release of Jim Butcher’s latest book from his Harry Dresden series, so in preparation of getting my hands on Cold Days, I found myself comparing translations of the novel title with theothercanary – Russian, Spanish, French… Before long, we were hooked. For me, though, it wasn’t just about the translations. It was the translation of cover art between one country and the other. Last week’s post talked about four English-language publishers and the covers they brought to the table. In this post, I’m gonna do some speculative globetrotting.

What does a cover and title say about the reader? Most foreign publishers end up doing some variation on the original or branded cover (whether for legal reasons or otherwise). Above, I pulled together five covers from five different translations of Storm Front (above), all of which did their own tweak on McGrath’s U.S. cover.

But publishers don’t always stick with the original – or even stay within the style of the original (examples right). I love speculating about what cover decisions say about the publisher, its target demographic, and the reader.

Below, I’ve pulled out some covers published in three (very dissimilar)  countries. Continue reading

The Best and Worst of Urban Fantasy Boys

Guest writer, Rhiannon J. Taylor, writing for the Best and Worst series. Chirp!

BEST: Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Okay, now anyone who happened to read my review on Storm Front and Fool Moon will know that I didn’t have the best experience reading Jim Butcher’s first two Dresden Files books. That ought to say a lot about the other guy.

But let’s start at the beginning of why Butcher’s Dresden Files wins my Urban Fantasy recommendation. The series is one of the best urban fantasies out there for a number of reasons. First of all, it brings a perspective that isn’t often found in Urban Fantasy: a male first person narrator. And while I enjoy most books in the urban fantasy genre, I tend to prefer a male narrator to a female one. Perhaps because I relate better to men, or perhaps it automatically breaks the Urban Fantasy norm, who knows, but for whatever reason, if the book has a male narrator, I’m giving it a shot.

Next, you can’t have a best read without an interesting premise and Butcher delivers. Harry Dresden is a wizard in Chicago working as a pseudo private investigator and Lost & Found box. Occasionally, he’s brought in as a paranormal consultant with the police for his magical expertise. It’s a nice change from the wizardly norm—you know, bushy beard, graying, and hanging around in sleazy taverns looking for bored young men to send out on pointless adventures. Continue reading

[ Book Review ] When you got a vampire reading your book…

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

(First of the Dresden books)

(That's three and a half canaries, but who's counting?)

When I first picked up Storm Front by Jim Butcher, I was prepared to fall in love. It was an urban fantasy series that had snagged itself a strong enough fanbase to get one TV show season on the air (a series I watched and of which have no clear memory).

Harry Dresden is a PI. He specializes in finding lost things—especially people.

He also happens to be a wizard-on-retainer for the Chicago PD.

On the same day the down-on-his-monetary-luck Dresden finally gets a PI case, he’s called in by the Chicago PD to investigate a brutal murder that has the distinct whiff of dark magic.

I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories. It was a done deal I’d make friends and whip my way through these books.

That didn’t happen.

I ground to a halt in the second chapter, irritated by a narrator who was trying too hard to be witty and a story that was hitting just too many paranormal detective cliches. I switched over to Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and thought of it no more.

A few weeks later, TheOtherCanary kicked me yet again and I reluctantly uploaded an audiobook version of the story onto my mp3 player. James Marsters-Spike-from-Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer’s reading gave Harry Dresden voice a world-weary wryness that chucked that first problem right out the rolled-down windows of my car. Harry’s narrative voice no longer grated–I’d been reading the book wrong.

But the story itself still dragged, and I left off reading. That was two months ago.

Yesterday, on a whim, I started idly leafing through Storm Front again, and, on page 107, I realized that something extraordinary had happened. Continue reading