Review: Dead Man’s Hand

Dead Man’s Hand by James J. Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This first book by Jim Butcher’s son has prose that reads like a combination of his father’s prose and John Scalzi’s prose. It’s fun and sarcastic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t serious stakes. I was actually quite happy that Butcher tends towards realism. For example, in a scene where a character normally would have rallied to a heroic speech, the character acts according to what we know of their personality.

The overall plot is that of a thriller and I felt that Butcher properly telegraphed the metaphorical Checkov’s Guns. I’m not claiming that I was able to predict all the plot twists or knew the ending, but I was able to note certain things that were given attention and was waiting to see when they’d come back to affect the plot.

Butcher does a good job setting up the beginnings of his magical world and I can’t wait to see where he continues to go with the magical rules and creatures he’s created.

If I had to give the book one demerit, it would be that it seems somewhat random when magical characters can use their powers. A Sanderson novel this is not. Characters mention needing sleep or food to get back powers, but it seems to wax and wane according to the plot. After reading lots of scientific magical systems recently, it stands out a bit.

I enjoyed it and I think if you enjoy the broad outlines of a Dresden Files (his father’s best known series) world (that is, the magical existing among the mundane in our current world), then you’ll probably like this book.

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