Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files universe has a very rich mythology, something I greatly admire about the series. From werewolves to vampires to faerie, Butcher doesn’t just take one or two types of supernatural creatures and run with it—he takes all-comers. He continues this trend with these three novelettes that involve Bigfoot. Working For Bigfoot is a short but nice little collection that takes the edge off waiting for the next novel in the series.
I liked each story for slightly different reasons. “B is for Bigfoot” is interesting because it lacks much in the way of magic on Harry’s part. He mostly acts as a guide for young Irwin, giving him advice on how to deal with bullies. “I Was a Teenage Bigfoot” puts Harry in a slightly more active role—but there, too, he’s more protector and guardian, putting on his Warden cap, and the antagonist backs down pretty quickly. “Bigfoot on Campus” involves the most action and peril—and even then, it’s ultimately not Harry who intervenes to save the day (and that is rather the point).
None of the stories would impress me on their own. Collected here, though, they form a nice progression. They remove Harry from his element—none of them take place in familiar haunts, and none involve any characters we are familiar with—and, as I mentioned above, Harry doesn’t actually use much magic. Nevertheless, these still feel in all respects like quintessential Dresden Files stories—just proving that it isn’t the way Butcher writes magic that keeps me coming back. It’s Harry Dresden, and his inability to keep his nose out of other people’s business, especially when he’s trying to be a do-gooder.
If I had to pick a favourite, it would be the last one. Firstly, Irwin has a much stronger presence now that he’s a young adult. (In the middle story, being sick, he basically lay around and was far too passive.) Secondly, Butcher brings the theme of fatherhood to the forefront here. In the earlier books there are hints of it, and Harry acts rather like a proxy for River Shoulders. However, Butcher has us come full circle, with Irwin finally meeting his father (and acting extremely cool and mature about it, by the way). Finally, I also liked Connie. I love how Butcher deals with the idea that she doesn’t know she’s a White Court Vampire, and how she might actually be “saved” if they handle the situation properly. Again, Harry is all about having compassion in the strangest of circumstances.
(There’s a curious continuity error in my book—in “Bigfoot on Campus” Harry calls Irwin’s mother “Carol Pounder” even though she is “Helena Pounder” in “B is for Bigfoot.” I don’t know if this error was caught and fixed in other editions, but I just thought I’d point it out for posterity here.)
Otherwise, as always this boutique Subterranean Press edition is lovely. From the paper to the artwork by Vincent Chong, it’s totally worth the added price, even for something as short and quick as Working for Bigfoot. Not what I would recommend for Dresden newbies, of course. But for fans it’s a really cool way to celebrate your enjoyment of the books.
Working for Bigfoot is nothing special or extraordinary, but it was never supposed to be. It hits the spot, does what it’s supposed to do, delivers a little more Dresden to the bloodstream. In those respects, it’s fun but forgettable—until I want to come back and read it again.