After Jim Butcher gave The Dresden Files a strong start, the follow up dropped the ball. Fool Moon is a sequel which feels like Jim Butcher had no clue what he wanted his series to be but had to write quickly or else he wouldn’t be published. There is really nothing which substantiates that claim, except how Fool Moon fills its 400 pages with little substance until a climax which wraps nearly everything the book laid as potential series changing in a nice little bow, bar some hints about the past of Harry’s mother and father which are clearly hooks for future stories. The pulpy atmosphere of Storm Front is still there and is great, however, Fool Moon as a story follows the basic structure of setting up every twist and turn, signposted as the most blatant Chekov’s gun within pages of each other makes the climax (and several other action scenes) incredibly predictable. The tension is no longer there and Butcher doesn’t show any signs of understanding just why Fool Moon’s climax doesn’t work because of these several scenes. There is also an attempt to connect every possible thread to the worldbuilding of the book so nothing feels left out and it makes the book feel cluttered with far too many plotlines to really end on a satisfying note.
Fool Moon deals with werewolves, drawing on several myths from around the world on how someone can become a werewolf, from being cursed into a loups garou or putting on a belt to be a hexenwolf or to be brought into the fold by a being of magic, though not by passing it on through bites. While this adds to the mystery early on as to what Harry is dealing with when asked to investigate werewolf like deaths, eventually revealing it to be a combination of several types of werewolves as well as fakers makes the entire thing more convoluted than it needed to be. Add in an ending that just doesn’t actually conclude makes Fool Moon weaker on the whole. Tera as a character is also far too look at me, I’m mysterious when being outright would have moved things along much better. That isn’t to say there is anything great about the book. Once again Harry’s narration is incredibly fun as he is such a stubborn character which gets those around him killed, placing a lot of blame right on our main character. Kim Delaney, while essentially a woman in refrigerators trope in the book, does have an obviously coming death which does show how bad of a person Dresden can be, as he is a protagonist who may act like the perfect person, but actually leaves a trail of death. There is also a sweetish romance between Harry and Susan Rodriguez who basically enters his world, though the midpoint has a really awkward sex scene that kind of comes out of nowhere. The plot with Johnny Marcone is also excellent, building on his presence in Storm Front and tendrils of Dresden being wrapped around his fingers can be seen here.
Overall, Fool Moon is very disappointing after Storm Front started the series off so well, however, the potential for a great story is there. The pulp is fun along with Dresden’s perspective on the world. This is a series which clearly has places to go as it has lasted eighteen books with two short story collections, and although this is a bump in a road, Butcher has to have something in mind to improve. As it stands, this one is kind of a dud and honestly completely skippable in the grand scheme of things. 4/10.