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Harry Dresden, Chicago's only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But now he's getting more than he bargained for:

A duel with the Red Court of Vampires' champion, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards...

Professional hit men using Harry for target practice...

The missing Shroud of Turin...

A handless and headless corpse the Chicago police need identified...

Not to mention the return of Harry's ex-girlfriend Susan, who's still struggling with her semi-vampiric nature. And who seems to have a new man in her life.

Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. No matter how much you're charging.

432 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published August 1, 2003

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About the author

Jim Butcher

287 books47.5k followers
Jim Butcher is the author of the Dresden Files, the Codex Alera, and a new steampunk series, the Cinder Spires. His resume includes a laundry list of skills which were useful a couple of centuries ago, and he plays guitar quite badly. An avid gamer, he plays tabletop games in varying systems, a variety of video games on PC and console, and LARPs whenever he can make time for it. Jim currently resides mostly inside his own head, but his head can generally be found in his home town of Independence, Missouri.

Jim goes by the moniker Longshot in a number of online locales. He came by this name in the early 1990′s when he decided he would become a published author. Usually only 3 in 1000 who make such an attempt actually manage to become published; of those, only 1 in 10 make enough money to call it a living. The sale of a second series was the breakthrough that let him beat the long odds against attaining a career as a novelist.

All the same, he refuses to change his nickname.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,268 reviews
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11.2k followers
May 4, 2012

I mostly like this series. However, I'm certainly not a die hard "Dresdenite" from the Church of Harry. Dresden is NOT my literary BFF and, truth be told, spends far more time languishing under the heading OAA (Occasionally Annoying Acquaintance). I like the stories (so far), but that enjoyment comes with some mondo qualifications and some serious groans. However, before I rail against the main character's penchant for lame cheesy-flavored popCORNY, I'm going to begin with what I think are the real bright spots of this book, and the series.


The world-building and various supernatural factions are both TIPPY TOP NOTCH, and I would almost continue to read the series for that alone. Almost. From previous books (though mentioned or appearing in this book) we have: The White Counsel (Wizards), the Red Court, White Court and Jade Court (all vampires), the Realm of Fairy (dealt with extensively in the previous book, Summer Knight) and the Knights of the Cross (maybe my favorite group).

In addition, several news groups/factions are introduced in this installment. My favorite of these are the Denarians, who I thought were definitely applause-worthy. Describing them would necessitate spoilers, but their background/origin warrants some kudos to Mr. Butcher. So....kudos.

I also crushed on the Archive (a powerful, neutral character) and the Fellowship of St Giles.

Despite the plethora of different races, Butcher handles their power and socio-political backgrounds very well, and he provides enough "rules" and "limitations" to keep the whole thing from getting silly. This aspect of the book, and the whole series for that matter, is a no-brainer 5 STAR EFFORT in my opinion.

Related to the worldbuilding, but separate enough to warrant special mention is the magic system created for the series. Dresden’s wizard powers are very well handled and never "jump the shark" into the realm of farce where you're left thinking he has a spell for everything. Like the worldbuilding, Harry's spells, wards and magical abilities are pretty well “grounded” and explained, and this gives them enough realism to make their presence a compelling part of the series.

Again, for this aspect of the book and the series, I would say 5 STARS ALL THE WAY.


The plot of the book is fast-paced, well written and engaging. The writing is, for the most part, good (with one exception…see below), and the dialogue is decent to good (with one HUGE, GALACTIC-SIZED exception …again see below). However, while the writing is good, it doesn't measure up to the quality of Butcher’s other series, the Codex Alera. I don’t know if this is because he spends more time on the other books, but the prose and dialogue in the Codex Alera just seems to me to be more polished. This may just be a matter of personal taste.


Okay...so, here we are...time for the bad stuff.

Unfortunately, my biggest gripe with the book, and the series, has to do with good old Harry himself, beginning with the “dialogue” exception I mentioned above. Now, I have no problems with sarcastic and wise-cracking main characters, especially in books that are meant to be "light" reads. Thus, for much of the time, I think Dresden's wise ass not-quite-wise-but-not-dumb-ass remarks are fine and I even sometimes enjoy them....deep breath HOWEVER, when Harry is tied up and facing certain, brutal death/dismemberment, or confronted with a "the world is ending" scenario, then the “I am not really taking this seriously” jibes rocket into dumb-assville, and ruin all sense of dramatic tension. Even in a fairly “light” read, I find this problematic as I think the author wants me to feel the tension and suspense of those moments....I don't. Harry’s reactions really take the air out of what is supposed to be pivotal moments of the narrative.

I would LOVE, just once, to see Harry become truly enraged and threaten to shove his staff up some magi-being's poop shoot. But no, my desire for a raging MAD-ON goes unfulfilled leaving my anger sack full and very, very "blue." Guys, we all know how painful that can be.

Also loaded with much SUCKNESS is the way Harry is always going on about his being “over protective” of women, or “not always thinking rationally” when it comes to women, or the “sucker for a pretty face” moments. Holy gag-reflex-testers, Batman...enough already. These all to frequent moments make me just want to shake Harry until the douchy falls out of him.

It isn't manly, it isn't chivalrous...It's just STUPID!!

My final gripe is simply that, as many things as Jim Butcher is good to great at, writing a love scene is NOT ONE OF THEM. The 10 pages or so of this book in which Dresden and Susan are trapped in his place and "getting down to business" was NAUSEATING on a scale I have not experienced since the Kathy Bates nude scene in About Schmidt. Mr. Butcher, for the sake of your fans....no more (that goes for you too, Ms. Bates).

Overall, I think the series has some real strengths. It just has “areas” that annoy me enough to really burrow under my skin. I still like it, but it is precarious.

3.0 stars.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
547 reviews34.7k followers
July 11, 2020
”There are things you can’t walk away from. Not if you want to live with yourself afterward.”

And if you’re Harry Dresden there are plenty of them! Unfortunately it seems like all those things he can’t walk away from are also the ones that will get him killed in the end. We’re not figuratively speaking here, by the way. ;-P We’re talking about quite literally dying a very long, slow, unpleasant and painful death. At least that’s what Harry’s enemies always try to threaten him with, but worry not! Our favourite wizard has his own way of dealing with threats like that.

”I get more threats before nine a.m. than most people get all day,” I responded, and shut the door on him. Purely for effect, I locked it too.
Me, petty? Surely not.

Still, there happen some really upsetting and creepy things in here and even Harry has to admit that he’s out of his depth. I guess there’s only so much you can take before you question your own sanity and mortal hit men that are after you, fallen angels that want to recruit you and a blood thirsty vampire who’s ready to bleed you to death might easily get you into a, well let’s say, a certain frame of mind. *lol* Oh dear, did I forget to mention the Shroud (yes, the one and only!!!) and his ex-girlfriend Susan? Because they are added into the mix too. ;-)

”That’s it,” I said, staring down and trying to keep myself from visibly trembling. “The weirdness has just gone off the end of my meter. I’m going home and going to bed.”

Yep, Harry! I understand you completely! To go home and to get some sleep might be a sound plan. But our hero isn’t allowed to get all too much rest and whenever he actually manages to hit a shower and to fall into his bed, either his enemies or his friends seem to have a particularly bad habit of interrupting his precious beauty sleep. Sorry, Harry. I’m afraid you’re not going to be Mister Wizard all too soon! XD

”Ungh,” I said.
“Okay, then, Caveman Og. Where germs go?”
“Sunrise,” I said. “Poof.”
Butter’s voice sounded bewildered. “Vampire germs?”
“The tiny capes are a dead giveaway,” I said.

In our wizard’s defence, he was halfway asleep when he got that call. *lol* As it seems Butter’s is going to be a new addition to our human team and I think he’s going to be a great one. I really liked the little we got to see of him and Murph and he gave me some sort of romancy vibe so I hope that they might start dating at some point. Definitely would be good for her to have another human at her side that supports her and understands Harry’s world. ;-)

I leaned down and twisted his false priest’s collar, half choking him. “The Knights are good men. I’m not. And I won’t lose a second’s sleep over killing you.” I shook him with each word, hard enough to rattle his bloodied teeth.

And considering the dark road Harry is walking he’ll need all the help he can get. He was always a rather morally grey character but with the temptation of Nicodemus looming over him it will take a lot of effort to stay on the righteous path. I know he won’t make it easy for “the dark forces” though! Because his heart is definitely in the right place!

All told I really enjoyed “Death Masks” and I can’t wait to read the next book! That ending was just OMG!!! I need to know what’s going to happen now and I need to know it soon!!! If you liked all the Harry Dresden books before I’m sure you’ll love this one too! Plus it gets more and more interesting with every book!
Happy reading! =)


It’s time to read the next Harry Dresden book because there’s no other wizard like him. XD
I really love this man and his self-deprecating and sarcastic attitude. *lol*

This is one of those rare series where I’m actually glad that there are still so many books ahead of me and judging by all the praise from my goodreads friends it only gets even better the longer the series continues. =)

Let’s see what this one has in store! ;-)

P.S: I recently discovered a very hard-to-reach and therefore pretty hidden library and I think I found my personal paradise. They don’t only have all of the Harry Dresden books but also so many other amazing books and series. It felt like Christmas came early this year! <3
Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46k followers
May 13, 2020
Harry Dresden need some sleep, and he’s not getting one easily.

Harry Dresden has a duel with the Red Court of Vampire’s Champion who wants to kill him at all cost, professional hitmen are using him as target practice, but that’s not all, Harry also needs to seek the missing Shroud of Turin while fighting all the new villains. All of these conflicts are brought to Harry Dresden within the first quarter of the novel; it’s safe to say that Death Masks, the fifth book in The Dresden Files series, is the most action-packed installment in the series so far. And to make things even crazier, the frantic situations won’t allow Harry to sleep. This poor wizard just can’t catch a break.

“Sleep is God. Go worship.”

It’s incredible how Butcher gradually expanded the world-building and cast of characters in this series. With each new installment in the series, there’s always something new being added and learned. The previous book, Summer Knight, focuses more on introducing the Faeries and Harry’s godmother, Death Masks introduces another group of villains that may truly be the overarching big boss of the series: Nicodemus and The Denarians—a group of fallen angels that have their souls attached to the thirty coins that Judas took to betray Jesus Christ, and they seek human hosts. Yes, that means there are thirty Denarians. I found this to be such an intriguing concept, and although some action sequences felt a bit too long for its own good, every scene in Death Masks that involved an encounter/battle with The Denarians was tense and page-turning.

Picture: One of the Denarians. Art by Vincent Chong.

As the number of baddies that Harry has to fight grew, the group of protagonists also received additional characters. Shiro and Sanya are new characters that appeared here, and with this book alone, I have become attached to them. And my favorite side character from the series so far, Michael Carpenter, makes a return once again; he didn’t appear in Summer Knight. Michael is such a great character to root for; he’s kind-hearted, faithful, protective, and loyal. I find his friendship with Harry, despite their differences in faith and personality, to be very wholesome.

“It's one of the things that makes us different than they are, Harry. The blood on their hands does not make it right to bloody my own. My choices are measured against my own soul. Not against the stains on theirs.”

There are an understanding and trust between these two, and the same can also be said with Harry’s friendship with Murphy. It’s unbelievable, in a good way, that this is the same Murphy from the first two books. Butcher didn’t get the right balance in portraying her personality in the first two books in my opinion; she was always angry in the early books, with almost no sense of trust towards Harry at all. To be fair, the same can be said for Harry as his chauvinist plus narcissistic attitude in the early books can indeed be testing to anyone’s patience. Now, they have become more and more acquainted with each other’s behavior, and none of these character’s development never felt forced. I mean, even Marcone developed in a way that made me empathize with him a bit. That’s something I didn’t think would ever happen.

“It isn't good to hold on too hard to the past. You can't spend your whole life looking back. Not even when you can't see what lies ahead. All you can do is keep on keeping on, and try to believe that tomorrow will be what it should be—even if it isn't what you expected.”

In addition to the action-packed nature of the book, Death Masks is at its core a great book about choices, responsibility, and doing your best in every possible circumstance. There isn’t much else to say here except that, once again, this is another entertaining read and I look forward to reading the next installment soon.

Picture: Death Masks by Vincent Chong

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Devin, Hamad, Joie, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
719 reviews886 followers
September 25, 2019
This is my favourite Dresden File to date because for the very first time reading this series, I actually felt emotional resonance. In the past few instalments, I was entertained, intrigued, and mostly treated these books as my guilty pleasure when I needed something I can breeze through for some fun and action with more than a touch of snarky humour.

In Death Masks, there were less unrealistically badass moments where I'll go "Oh, come on! Really?!" Instead, at least a couple of scenes in here elicited poignancy and really tugged at my heartstrings. As I have alluded to in quite a few of my other reviews, emotional investment a significant factor in determining whether the book is merely good or great, for me. Hence, with me coming out of this feeling the way I did, I have to say that Harry's story is moving to greater heights as I am starting to care.

I was also fascinated by the introduction of a new kind of adversary in this book. Without giving away too much, let's just say that eternal battle between Heaven and Hell (or between the angels and the fallen ones) has been a perennial favourite supernatural theme of mine. (Side note: The Constantine movie with Keanu Reeves is another one of my guilty pleasures, and I have watched it at least half a dozen times).

While I'm not sure of how I feel about the romantic angle in these books yet, I am loving the themes of friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. Even Michael whom I found too self-righteous and stuffy in the previous novel, is great here.

I'll end this short review by saying that this was also the first time I felt like starting on the next volume immediately after finishing one of the Dresden Files. That alone probably indicated how much I enjoyed Death Masks.
Profile Image for Will M..
304 reviews625 followers
September 7, 2016
What I noticed right away after reading the first few chapters would be that the series has a routine. It starts of with Harry complaining about his broke life, then a lover appears or a new villain. It's not a bad routine, on the contrary I actually enjoy it. Harry Dresden's life is really fascinating and adventure filled.

The plot tried to be more action packed but ended up on the mild side. The new enemies presented were quite interesting but honestly were all over the place. They weren't introduced well enough to make a lasting statement. I liked them but they were all forgettable. I like characters that are awesome enough to be remembered. Harry Dresden himself is obviously unforgettable, but I'll need more than one to really enjoy the novel. Murphy and Michael are also old favorites, but I need new ones.

I'm not fond of the Harry-Susan love team. I just don't see any love between them. I didn't like that this novel focused more on their relationship too, aside from the duels Harry had. Susan has this pretentious vibe that I never really liked right from the start. I'm hoping not to see her that much in the next novels.

3.5/5 stars. Not my favorite of the series, but at least it's still not the worst. This novel was enjoyable for some parts, but quite tiresome for the most. It was still good though, so I'm still recommending this. I can't wait to continue on with the series.
Profile Image for Philip.
513 reviews684 followers
April 12, 2018
3ish stars.

To anyone who still isn't convinced that Harry is a chauvinistic, narcissistic douchebag:

"My blasting rod thumped against my leg rhythmically."
Blasting rod, eh? Someone's cocky (pun intended?).

"I gathered in my will and settled my grip on my blasting rod."

"I jerked the tip of the blasting rod up and away from the girl, releasing the gathered energy."
Wow, Harry. First of all ew. Second, woman, not girl, that's demeaning- and to think you consider yourself chivalrous. Third, enough with the" blasting rod" talk, a little humility would do you some good.

"She frowned at me until I coaxed the blue beetle to life and pulled out."
It's a start.

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
383 reviews1,764 followers
February 7, 2017

I really do love this series. This book was my least favorite but I did enjoy it a little. I loved the last four so I am excited to start the next one.
Death Masks is the 5th in the series and I really have to say that I am
so over with the war with the red court.

In Death Masks, a vampire named Ortega challenges Harry to a duel that will end the war between the vampires and the wizards. Harry has no choice but to accept, and almost no hope of winning the duel. However he has another problem. A catholic priest - who doesn't believe in magic - needs Harry's help in finding the Shroud of Turin, which stolen by a trio of thieves, on of which has turned up very dead. Harry traces the remaining two thieves to his hometown of Chicago. He also quickly finds out that he isn't the only one after them. A group of terrifying demons wants the shroud, and the demon leader wants Harry's soul too. Phew! Life is never easy for Harry, all he wants is to just do private investigations and earn a living. He realises that he must accept help from all of his friends, including three Holy knights, his police-officer friend, and even his half-vampire ex-girlfriend, Susan.

The story is well-paced, the action well done, humour abounds in spite of grizzly events. Jim Butcher cleverly twists religious history and the occult, and builds on events from the previous books without you needing to have read them. Harry's world is increasingly complex, and he continues to grow as a character.

However, I just couldn't say this is a 'wow' book for me - a few things irk me. Why is Harry the only Wizard doing anything - yes I know he is on the out as far as wizarding goes - but this is threatening the whole magical world, why let him do all the work? I hope there is less war and more investigations into creepy magical beings in the future books.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,389 reviews1,470 followers
January 17, 2018
Harry Dresden can't catch a break... or a full night's sleep. He's up against the Red vampire court, he's being attacked by supernatural creatures with powers he's never seen before and his ex-girlfriend is back in town.

But, you can't keep a good wizard down, right?

Even when you introduce a holy relic into the tale: "Someone stole the freaking Shroud of Turn?' I demanded. 'Yes.' I settled back into the chair, looking down at the photos again. This changed things. This changed things a lot." pg 28

In case you haven't read the first four entries in this series: Harry Dresden is a wizard for hire. He solves supernatural crimes, he finds lost items and he never seems to make enough money to be comfortable.

"I'd learned something in several years of professional wizarding. Never walk into a fight when the bad guys are the ones who set it up. Wizards can call down lightning from the heavens, rip apart the earth beneath their enemy's feet, blow them into a neighboring time zone with gale winds, and a million other things even less pleasant- but not if we don't plan things out in advance." pg 58

Some criticisms of this series are that the humor is juvenile and corny. I'll confess: it is. But I still love it.

"I get more threats before nine a.m. than most people get all day," I responded, and shut the door on him. Purely for effect, I locked it too. Me, petty? Surely not." pg 110

If I was a male wizard, I think I'd be something like Harry. I'd go in with the best of intentions and end up with the most mediocre of results.

Harry stands up for the little guy and has a soft spot for the ladies. He protects children and holds the door for women.

He likes to drink, wears a leather duster and can't seem to sleep even when he's exhausted.

Aren't we all, in some ways, Harry Dresden? Fighting the good fight, even though we know that death waits around the corner?

"Apocalypse, as you refer to it, isn't an event. ... Apocalypse is a frame of mind," he said then. "A belief. A surrender to inevitability. It is despair for the future. It is the death of hope." pg 353

Recommended for fans of urban fantasy and especially the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. I am a fan of The Dresden Files despite the fact that it can seem formulaic. I think Harry Dresden is worth the read.

Thanks for reading!
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,883 reviews5,800 followers
September 1, 2016

Poor Harry Dresden.

You sweet, oddly sexy, powerful wizard. You just CAN'T catch a break!

I adore this series and I adore listening to it on audio. I think James Marsters just keeps getting better and better. I can hear a wider range of voices in this one than in the previous books, and he is so SO DAMN PERFECT as Harry Dresden. I could listen to these books all day, every day.

Interestingly, a lot is left hanging at the end of this book. I can't wait to see where the next few books take me!
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,144 reviews1,849 followers
July 16, 2012
The story continues here and stays true to form.

The Dresden books are some of my favorite novels...bar none, hands down. These are great brain candy. They're pure escapism, total Urban Fantasy fun, comic drama that do several things very well. Each novel tells it's own story making them individually readable and enjoyable while in the back ground evidence and details mount to tell a larger more involved tale.

Here we open up with Harry broke (not that unusual) and in a spot he isn't all that happy about...a TV studio. He's on the Larry Fowler show (seems like it might be something like the old Jerry Springer show???)as Chicago's only consulting wizard . The producer offered double his usual fee. He's trying to control his emotions lest he accidentally destroy thousands of dollars worth of TV equipment. Things seem to be going pretty well...till a major Red Court vamp noble shows up as another guest (known to the world as a debunker of paranormal beliefs of course, not a vampire).

We'll not go into the damage done when Harry loses a bit of emotional control.

One of the other guests is a representative from the Vatican. "Father Vincent" also debunks the paranormal.

The priest and the Vampire are not really in town to appear on Larry Fowler of course (big surprise, right?)..and the real reasons they are in town have to do with Harry (well, if they didn't we wouldn't have a book).

You see the vampire war is dragging on a bit... and Harry has been recommended to the Priest Vincent as an investigator. What does the vampire (Duke Ortega) want? What does "Father Vincent" want Harry to find?

That would be telling.

My recommendation? Don't miss any of the Dresden books.

I know some aren't as taken with them as I, fine. But try them yourself. I'm not here to run down objections and complaints about the novels. While there may be some flaws and they may not be to the taste of some I think most will find this book (these books) at least greatly enjoyable and some, like me fantastic. The series opens wonderfully and gets better as it goes with the books seeming to me to hit their stride around volume 3 or 4 and continuing to get better as they go.

Highest brain candy recommendation.
Profile Image for The Fantasy Review.
273 reviews198 followers
April 25, 2022
I am so glad that this series continues to be brilliant! Summer Knight shocked me with how good it was, but Death Masks shocked me by being both brilliant and different to the other entries in Jim Butcher‘s fantasy series.

Harry Dresden has been growing slowly over the past couple of books
I won’t get into specifics because of spoilers, but I will say that Jim Butcher’s character work in this entry to The Dresden Files is beautiful!

In Death Masks I am now beginning to see Harry Dresden become more nuanced than ever. He loves deeply, isn’t having as many sexist thoughts, and continues to put his life on the line for what he believes is right – no matter the cost to himself.

He’s a fantastic character and I’m looking forward to watching him continue to grow in the next few books.

As with the other Dresden books, there are several plot elements that all link together quite well
In this book, however, there is one plotline that sticks to itself for the most part and the end is quite unsatisfactory.

I can see how this book is possibly bridging several books together, however that made the plots of this book just feel like introductions to something more. I say “just”, but they were still fast-paced, exciting, and fun to follow!

We are getting so many hints to the future books…
…which is something Jim Butcher has not done much of in the previous books like Fool Moon or Grave Peril. I am guessing that Death Masks and the next one, Blood Rites, or two will be similar in that kind of style before all these threads come nicely together and explode in Harry Dresden’s life!

If that’s true, I’m all in, because there is nothing better than a series becoming that epic.

I am so glad that this book was more of an introduction to a bigger plot
We got to see so much more of the characters interacting. Harry, Murphy, Michael, Susan, and even Marcone(and Molly who it seems Jim Butcher wanted us to notice? Possible future main character? I hope that theory is right because she’s funny!) have their time in the spotlight and we get to see them for who they really are.

I love these characters and I’m glad I got to spend more time with them just being themselves, rather than constantly fighting off werewolves and the like!

View the full review at The Fantasy Review
Profile Image for Christine.
6,673 reviews490 followers
July 12, 2009
Reasons to read this book.

1. Harry Dresden is a believable character. He learns, he grows, but he does not gain a new power every book. In fact, he doesn't seem to gain any power in any of the books. He gains awareness and knowledge.

2. Susan is cool, but flawed like Harry. Love her.

3. Godfather with a helicopter.

4. One of the best love/sex scenes I have ever read. Butcher could write a good romance novel.

5. Good female detective who has smarts.

6. Vampires with bite.

7. Butcher knows his myth, legends, and religion.

8. An agnostic black Russian knight.

9. A woman who knows how to make armor.

10. A good cat.

11. Most importantly, an ending that works in terms of the rules of the series.
Profile Image for Alex Nieves.
176 reviews665 followers
January 29, 2021
Happy to be back reading Dresden again! This was yet another different flavor of the formula that Jim Butcher is crafting with this series, where yet again Harry is dragged into a case to solve some supernatural problem that inevitably leads to nothing but danger. Storm Front gave us warlocks, Fool Moon gave us werewolves, Grave Peril gave us ghosts and Summer Knight gave us the Fae. Death Masks brought us some nice demons this time around and certainly the most deadly villain that I think the series has seen to this point, Nicodemus and the Denarians. Sorta sounds like a band.

I love how Jim Butcher seamlessly blends humor with action and suspense. This book brought back characters that I was hoping to see more of and gave me some great scenes with some that I wasn't expecting to be part of this story. We were also introduced to more of the Knights of the Cross and they were pretty cool as well.

I still have literally no idea where this overall story and series are headed, but I've pretty much loved each of these books and if I've already read the "bad" Dresden books then I seriously can't wait to continue. This was great and I'm excited to continue to Blood Rites.
Profile Image for Trish.
2,018 reviews3,436 followers
March 23, 2023
This 5th volume was awesome!

Why? Well, it might have to do with the fact that I didn't hate Susan. I did before. I still don't love her but she was so much more capable here (and I'm not talking about her super strength) and much less stupid. I was also intrigued by the markings the Fellowship of Saint Giles provided her with. Scratch that, I was pleasantly surprised that something like the Fellowship existed, period.

But first things first: what is this installment about?
The White Council (wizards) and the Red Court (vampires) are at war. And yes, it's thanks to Harry and how he dealt with Bianca. The solution everyone seems to favour is Harry duelling one of the vampires. Because that's a good idea. *rolls eyes*
Moreover, there is a relic of the Catholic Church almost everyone is after now and which Harry was hired to find first: the Shroud of Turin. Yep, that one. Which might explain why there are even demons running around now.
And as if that wasn't enough, Gentleman Marcone is up to something as well.
Thankfully, help comes in the form of some Knights (oh yes, Michael isn't the only one and his "co-workers" were highly entertaining) as well as Susan, if you can believe that.

Naturally, all these various elements come together nicely, sooner rather than later in this case even.

Not a whole lot of new magic here, sadly, but a nice look at the political tapestry with a number of highly interesting players introduced. It very much reminded me of the mess right before WW1 and I bet that was no coincidence.

The plot was moving along so fast-paced that I didn't even mind the inter-personal stuff between Harry and Susan. And, like I said, it helped that she wasn't as annoying as in previous books. Nevertheless, I appreciated Mister meowing at an opportune time. ;)
What I usually don't like is that every time Susan shows up, Murphy takes a backseat. usually with a "good excuse" but it's annoying because why shouldn't there be enough space for both women? It's as if Harry mustn't have more than one female ally at any given time, which is ridiculous of course (the only other woman here was Michael's wife and we all know that she sure as hell isn't an ally of Harry's). However, that didn't marr my enjoyment one bit. It's just something I noticed.

Very nice part of the series with very nice places it took us.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,643 reviews1,511 followers
May 15, 2015
Buddy at Buddies Books and Baubles with some Dresdanites

3.5 Who Else Could Want To Kill Harry Stars

Five books in and the world and characters keep expanding a little at a time. I enjoy reading this series to a certain extent but the thing is Harry isn’t the reason. Mostly I like all of the side characters more than him. Each doesn’t get a lot of page time but the glimpses I see of them…well usually the side character steals the show from Harry, at least for me.

It isn’t specifically Harry’s fault I mean sure he is a wizard with a snappy wit, pop culture references and a keen sense of humor in the face of danger but here is a list of the side characters that make an appearance.
BOB - Although he is a little out of it this time and didn’t get his normal page time for banter the spirit/lab assistant to Harry housed in a skull almost always steals the show when on page.

Micheal - *Swoon* I totally crush on The Fist of God. Good men are hard to find and he is the best of them. Anyone with a holy sword and Crusader Armor is interesting in my book.

Molly - The Fourteen year old daughter of the Fist of God. She was hilarious, a little bit of a romantic and full of enough teenage rebellion to be interesting but not annoying she was one of my favorite new additions.

“Ohhhh,” Molly said wisely. “Those are fun-time handcuffs, not bad-time handcuffs. I gotcha.”
“No!” I protested. “And how the hell would you know about fun-time handcuffs anyway? You’re like ten.”
She snorted. “Fourteen.”
“Whatever, too young.”
“Internet,” she said sagely. “Expanding the frontiers of adolescent knowledge.”

Shiro and Sanya - Holy Crusaders and Michael’s equals Shiro is like the Mr. Miyagi of the book much knowledge and a great sense of devotion to his cause while Sanya is very different from what you would expect of a holy crusader of God.

IVY - Also known as the archive. Imagine all of the world’s knowledge in a 7 year old girl. I’m thinking of the daughter in Dune, slightly creepy but infinitely powerful. I hope she shows up in future books as she was really interesting.

“You know how to use magic?” I asked.
“I prefer calculus.”
“But you can do it.”
“Yes.” Yikes. If the reaction of my wards was any indication, it meant that she was at least as strong as any Wizard of the White Council. Probably stronger. But if that was true… “If you know that much,” I said, “if you are that powerful, why did you hire a bodyguard to bring you here?”
“My feet don’t reach the pedals.”

Waldo Butters - Medical examiner who has caught on to the supernaturalness of some of the some of the corpses coming in lately. A little on the unusual side, I can tell I’m going to love him in this series.

There are so many more including staples such as Murphy, Charity, Marcone, Thomas and Susan. There are some and new additions including the Oracle, Ortega, the Fallen and Nicodemus. So many people for Harry to interact with it gets staggering at times.

While I really like most of the characters of this series I sometimes find the plotting kind of thrown together. It sometimes feels jumbled crashing together until we get to the end. Don’t get me wrong I’m entertained the entire time but I feel like I have a difficult time following parts of the plot occasionally.

That said though Harry is an easy guy to root for even if the entire world seems out to get him and really it seems like the ENTIRE world IS out to get him.
In this corner, one missing Shroud, one impossibly and thoroughly dead corpse, one dedicated and deadly vampire warlord, three holy knights, twenty-nine fallen angels, and a partridge in a pear tree. And in the opposite corner, one tired, bruised, underpaid professional wizard, threatened by his allies and about to get dumped by his would-be girlfriend for John Q. Humdrum

Seriously, tell me that isn’t a lot to deal with. I will give it up to J.B. for the way he pushes the expectations of people’s roles in the story. Sanya in particular is a Warrior for God but…..he isn’t quite what you would expect at all. I loved the twist to his character. The inclusion of the 30 pieces of silver that were paid to Judas as well was a fantastic re-imagining of how to incorporate Christian lore into story. I also very much liked the addition of a duel between Harry and a Duke of the Red Court and how the rules for that were incorporated.

There are a ton of great ideas in the story. Possible even too many which is why at times it felt slightly jumbled to me at times. Still right now this is a series I could read a few and walk away for a few months then read a few more. I haven’t fallen in love with Harry’s character enough yet to want to plow through 15 books before I move onto something else like has happened to me with a few of the other series I really love.

Still Harry is a good dude to hang out with and go on a ride into crazytown. Also you can feel better about your life because I guarantee he has way more problems with romance, people trying to kill him and just paying the rent than you do.
Profile Image for Jim C.
1,548 reviews24 followers
June 22, 2023
This book is part of a series and I recommend reading them in order. In this one Harry is hired to retrieve a religious artifact. Meanwhile a vampire challenges him to a duel and someone who means a lot to him is back in his life.

I am reading this series in order and this one is easily my favorite. I have read that this series picks up around the fourth book and I am seeing that. What I enjoyed about this one was the author had a lot balls in the air for the main character and he handled them perfectly. Each plot received the attention it deserved. This one really builds its characters including the main character. Harry made me laugh out loud several times. I loved the build up for the minor characters. A couple of them I wasn't sold on until this book. This book also had a resolution to one plot that has been ongoing for a couple of books. There are still open plots that provide incentive to jump into the next book.

I am finally seeing why this series is beloved by many. I have enjoyed it up to this point but I wasn't enthralled with it. That has changed with this book. This was fun with a touch of mystery and had repercussions for the series. I am looking forward to the next one.
Profile Image for Jody .
202 reviews141 followers
November 8, 2019
Another solid book in The Dresden Files. I am thoroughly enjoying this series. The first couple of books were a good warm up to Harry and his world. Now the main plot is starting to take shape, and I am really liking the direction the story has taken.

Harry seems to always have a little too much going on. He has his work that keeps him in constant danger. Plus, there is almost always something nasty trying to kill him for....well, just for being him . Butcher's technique of weaving a story within a story is really masterful when applying it to Harry's personal & professional life. The two intermingle so much, it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. This is one of the main reasons these books work so well for me. There is never a dull moment.

Say what you want about Harry Dresden, but the man really makes the most of his resources. He has an abundance of magical items, almost always has someone to cover his back, and his sheer dumb luck seems to be unlimited. His pessimistic attitude and uncanny ability to piss off just about anyone he meets are just a bonus. How can you not love the guy???

All joking aside. The more books I read in this series, and deeper I delve into the world of Harry Dresden, it's easy to see how this series has been such a success. Harry is an easy relatable character...for a wizard. Butcher makes sure to show his struggles with everyday things like bills, family, and love. Just like we all deal with. It strengthens the readers connection with Harry and helps us empathize with him. Even if we do want to reach into the pages and smack the shit out of him every once in a while.

Death Masks is one of my favorite books in the series so far. The story, characters, and pacing were executed very well in this volume. There is literally no down time when reading these books. I encourage all urban fantasy fans to read The Dresden Files if you haven't already. The entertainment level is through the roof. Plus, they are just fun to read. What else could you want???

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars ****
June 25, 2016
My sister and I listened to this on Audiobook in the car. I had to return the CDs to the library, but fortunately, they had the Playaway, so we were able to finish this. I loved James Marsters' narration. He doesn't sound a thing like Spike and I'm glad. He showed a wonderful vocal range, and he really gave life to Harry Dresden for me. He's really fantastic at accents and different inflections. He does women voices without them sounding cheesy or falsetto (which is a huge thing for me). I think I will definitely have to listen to more of these on audiobooks. My sister had never read any of this series, and she really liked this. Of course, she loves James Marsters (and Spike), so that was a good way to suck her in.

As far as the book, I really liked it. I think it could probably give this five stars if I wanted to be generous. I think the reason I didn't is because the story doesn't really wrap up to my satisfaction. I would have liked a lot more closure than I got. But it was a good follow-up to Summer Knight. Harry is a hero, but he doesn't ever seem to get that day in the sun or the resolution of his personal and private issues that you would hope for. Susan is back, and that was very cool. I think that her return was pivotal to the storyline, and the storyline in itself has a nice complexity to it in which various elements tie together very well. I can't say I was a huge fan of the Susan relationship, but it's treated well in this book, and there was a surprisingly steamy love scene that I wasn't expecting. I wonder if the author's wife is rubbing off on him (Shannon K. Butcher). I can see that there was genuine love between them, and I can't help hoping that works out in the future.

I think that Harry gains a lot of personal growth in this book, acquiring new allies along the way, and realizing that there are people who really do believe the best of him and trust him to do the right thing. I know I am seriously behind in this series, because I tend to get behind in my reading of series. I actually wasn't lost, even though it had been years since I read Summer Knight, so that was nice. He also develops more nemeses, not like he needs them. Harry really does have a kiss my butt attitude that makes people hate his guts. But those people are usually jerks, so that's okay with me.

I have heard things about Dresden being a sexist. I think listening to this on audio does reveal this flaw in his character. While I am not for sexism, I still like him a lot. I think that his sexism backfires on him because he allows his preconceived notions about women get him in trouble again and again. My hope is he will learn from his mistakes. Here's hoping. But despite this shortcoming and others, I count Harry as one of my favorite characters for many reasons. I think that even though Harry has some really obvious flaws, he's a good guy that I'm very fond of and I always look forward to spending time with him.

Like most of the books in this series, the secondary characters are great. They add so much to the read. The Knights of the Cross (including Michael), Murphy, Susan, Martin, Susan's work companion who is on the surface very mild-mannered but is really kind of like Jack Reacher, Molly (Michael's daughter), his wife who hates Harry, and not to mention some truly despicable bad guys. I loved the Archive and her bodyguard Kincaid.

I am ever a fan of authors with rich imaginations who can put that on the page in a readable fashion, and Jim Butcher has that in spades. The humor is great, and parts of these stories are genuinely scary and thrilling. And the action is top notch. I'm such a geek for urban fantasy and magic noir, this is very up my alley for that type of story.

I have most of these in paperback, but I'm thinking about going back and listening to the first books on audiobook, just for fun.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
February 18, 2020
On a field in Knebworth, the GODS OF ROCK AND ROLL gather to be cool and to discuss Jim Butcher’s 2003 Dresden Files novel Death Masks.

Page: It was arcane and occult with clear references to ancient Christian relics and artifacts and I enjoyed it.

Bonham: The action was good, Harry and me could be mates, he’s a truculent and bold lad, but also aware of his limitations and that’s what makes him even the more brave. I don’t hold with vampires and he’s against ‘em and I like that about him.

Plant: Butcher can supply this whole lotta mystic realism where there is magic and gods and sorcerers but it’s also real life and with real troubles and concerns besides. Some may not ken to the corny one liners, but it’s that kind of personality that will keep me coming back. The Chicago setting with links to other earthly and interdimensional spots is also right on.

Jones: Butcher is a righteous bloke and I like him.

Bonham: When I died in 1980, the ideas of vampires were still very much old world, not the kiddy glitzy stuff getting’ writ these days and Butcher has dialed into that darker and more brimstone notion. He’s got Harry fighten’ ‘em, and squarin’ wit other underground ideas and that’s what makes me say, “Mr. Butcher, Mr. Bonham would like to buy you a pint.”

Page: Right, Butcher has the urban fantasy script locked in, it’s like he’s got a connection to something holy. The inclusion of the shroud of Turin and the whole Red Court of vampires versus the White Council of Wizards and then also the Knights of the Cross – it’s almost akin to epic fantasy.

Plant: At first I think of Immigrant Song, but there’s also Stairway with the mysticism but then also Kashmir. But you’re right, Jimmy, about the epic quality, like a modern day urban fantasy saga that also makes me think of Achilles Last Stand.

Jones: True. The darkness and sobriety inherent in Butcher’s writing is very much like the tone of our Presence album.

Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,796 reviews485 followers
January 25, 2018
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this book! This was a re-read for me and I liked it just as much the second time around. I did remember some parts of the book from the first time I read the story but I had forgotten most of the details. It has been about a year and half since I listened to the last book in this series and I really enjoyed spending a little bit of time with Harry Dresden once again. This is the fifth book in the series and I do recommend that this series be read in order. This was a book that entertained me from beginning to end.

Harry has a lot going on in this book. I don't even know how he is able to keep everything straight. He has a vampire from the Red Court that wants to duel him. A priest wants his help in finding the Shroud and a few other people would like to get their hands on it as well. An old girlfriend is in town to keep things interesting. Plus there are all the other situations that Harry seems to regularly find himself in. If you are looking for a book with a lot of action, look no further because this book really never slows down.

The characters in this book almost feel real to me. One thing that I love about reading a series like this is how well you get to know each of the characters. It is almost like they are old friends and you can somewhat anticipate how they might react in certain situations. I do think it is also a lot of fun to re-read a longer series like this because the groundwork for future events is being laid. Having already read the later books, I know that some scenes will become more important later on. There are a lot of characters featured in this story that have been very important to the series. I liked seeing Michael and his family as well as the other Knights of the Cross. Thomas, John Marconi, Susan, and Karin also play important roles.

James Marsters takes this book to a whole new level. I originally read this book on my kindle but if I had known how good the audiobook was, I might have went that route the first time around. I think he does a fantastic job in bringing Harry to life. I know what Harry is feeling at times because I can hear it in his voice. I think that he does a great job with all of the characters and the dialogue in the story flows very nicely. He has a very pleasant voice that was easy to listen to for hours at a time.

I do recommend this series to others. I like that it is a fairly complex story with some humor worked in at just the right moments. Harry is a character that is easy to cheer for because in the end he really is a good guy. I am looking forward to continuing with my re-read of the series very soon.

Initial Thoughts
This was a re-read for me. I remembered parts of the book but no details. I think that Jim Marsters narration brings Harry to a whole new level. Lots of excitement in the one with appearances by most of the key characters in the series.

Book source: Audible purchase
Profile Image for Alex Nieves.
176 reviews665 followers
August 18, 2022
As good as I remember. This is when Dresden really kicked into another gear and showed how deadly some of these villains will get. Nicodemus and the Denarians are so cool, the Knights of the Cross are great to see in battle and we got to see some more of future stars in the series. Love it.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,595 followers
October 15, 2020

"...“I am blind and limited. I would be a fool think myself wise. And so, not knowing what the universe means, I can only try to be responsible with the knowledge, the strength, and the time given to me. I must be true to my heart.”
― Jim Butcher, Death Masks..."
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
903 reviews1,816 followers
August 26, 2016
EDIT: Enjoyed it way more this time as I knew how subtly Butcher dropped clues about Harry's past and future here and there.


Fifth book of the series. A new case and problems from the previous books to solve.

So Harry’s journey covers a dual challenge from vampire Ortega (red court battle), finding the stolen shroud (case), return of his half-vampire girlfriend Susan (surprise) and his fight with supernatural creatures (his usual stuff).

Michael made his came back in the book with other two knights. Denarians i.e. the supernatural creatures were absolute cruel and evil. The base of the story was finding the stolen shroud. Gentleman John Marcone’s appearance in the book was the other surprise and him helping Harry in retrieving the Shroud was even more fascinating.

Characters other than Harry were also pretty good though I missed Murphy in this edition.

Story was good and fast paced. Full of action and surprises. Hats off to Mr Butcher for creating such a complex yet beautiful supernatural world.
Profile Image for Angela.
321 reviews63 followers
October 31, 2016
Reading in Saucy Wenches Book Club in October. I'm only two months behind on the series read.

Another great outing from Harry Dresden. Susan was fantastic in this one and I really enjoyed seeing her again. Even if she is very changed from who she use to be. I think her development makes sense and I do hope she appears again in later novels.

One of the delights of this series is that Dresden really can count on his friends and that his friends are there for him. Even if this sometimes leads to sadness and heartbreak.

Harry survived for another adventure. Marcone,why is he now a grey character? I'm not meant to like him and yet now a teeny bit of me does. Dresden can be pretty sneaky when he needs to be to find things out and the reveal about Marcone definitely put him in a new light.

I'll definitely be continuing with this series. Recommended for lovers of urban fantasy and a good adventure.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,510 reviews855 followers
March 28, 2018
That Nicodemius is one tricksy Demon! Good to see the three Knights working together in the story. We meet Butters,a significant addition in books to come. Harry and Susan manage to hang out for a while. A duel is fought. Marcone’s secret is out. Harry wins to fight another day. Another book down in my reread campaign, killing time until the next book is published. Soon I hope!
Profile Image for Mike's Book Reviews.
149 reviews6,223 followers
February 18, 2020
Full Video Review Here: https://youtu.be/L8VFzf7YRkc

Wow. This is the Dresden book I have been waiting for since I started the series. While I've had a great time with all of them up to this point, this was the first one to be more than just "fun." Butcher becomes a better writer with each offering and this is the first in the series to hit some emotional resonance with me in a lasting way.

New characters are introduced and become instant favorites. The new "big bad" this go around is by far the best villain in the series to date and I'm hoping we see him again in the future. Tying this case in with religious artifacts and legends feels like Dan Brown but written with actual talent.

When fans of this community tell me that these books just get better as they go along, I thought that was just a tag line. If Death Masks if that measuring stick, it seems to be based in fact. I can't wait to read more.
Profile Image for Haïfa.
190 reviews180 followers
February 11, 2021
Man, it took me ages and a long pause in the middle to finish this installment.
I can't figure out if I really didn't enjoy the plot in this one, or if I just wasn't in the right mood.
May be the break helped, or may be the second half of the book was really good.
What I know for sure however is that Harry is growing as a character; and that the cast of friends, allies and enemies is growing with him and gaining substance.
I'm looking forward to the rest of the journey.
Profile Image for Tosh.
163 reviews39 followers
July 17, 2017
4.5 stars

I read the first few chapters then switched to audio. James Marsters' narration is perfect and definitely kicked the story up a notch for me.

Knocked off 1/2 a star because I really can't stand the sexual tension between Harry and Susan. Is it truly love, or just lust? Had we had more relationship development between the two in earlier books maybe I wouldn't question it.

Otherwise, never a dull moment and some interesting new characters on the scene.
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