Whether you’re looking for a novel equivalent to Constantine or have read one of the Dresden Files books, you might want to know the chronology of Jim Butcher’s famous paranormal mystery series.
The series follows Harry Dresden, a wizard and paranormal investigator who has to solve crimes that involve magic, which is real in the world of The Dresden Files.
This article will list all of the Dresden Files books in order, as well as the ones you should not miss. You will also learn more about Jim Butcher, the author of The Dresden Files. But before we get into that, here are the top three Dresden Files books.
Our Best Dresden Files Books at a glance:
Who Is Jim Butcher, The Enigmatic Author Of Dresden Files:
Jim Butcher is an American author who was heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings, which he read as a kid. At 19, he tried to write traditional high fantasy, finishing three novels in the process. None of them made it to print, and Butcher admits that they were “terrible.”
He had the right mentor in Deborah Chester, the sci-fi romance author who encouraged Butcher to amalgamate fantasy with alternative and more current genres. As Jim took Chester’s advice, he stopped trying to pen traditional fantasy and wrote the Dresden Files’ first installment.
The manuscript was shopped around, but no publisher touched it until it got appropriate representation. Ricia Mainhardt represented Butcher in his first publishing deal.
Once the Dresden Files series got its start, there was no looking back for Butcher, who continues to passionately pen new installments in the life and adventures of Harry Dresden, the wizard and paranormal investigator after whom the series is named.
Aside from the Dresden Files, Jim Butcher also writes traditional fiction now. His traditional fiction series is titled Codex Alera and follows the fall of an empire, Alera. The book itself has an interesting origin story, as Butcher was challenged by a fellow workshop mate to write a book on a lame idea.
Butcher allowed the challenger to give two lame ideas. These ideas were the Lost Roman Legion and Pokemon. Taking these as his driving inspirations, Butcher penned a traditional fantasy series that inspired a bidding war, which Ace finally won.
The Dresden Files Books In Order
- Storm Front (2000)
- Fool Moon (2001)
- Grave Peril (2001)
- Summer Knight (2002)
- Death Masks (2003)
- Blood Rites (2004)
- Dead Beat (2006)
- Proven Guilty (2007)
- White Night (2008)
- Small Favor (2009)
- Turn Coat (2010)
- Changes (2011)
- Ghost Story (2012)
- Cold Days (2013)
- Skin Game (2015)
- Peace Talks (2020)
- Battle Ground (2020)
The Dresden Files Best Books
For ghost-hunting enthusiasts, Grave Peril is the perfect entry into the Dresden world, even though the title isn’t the first one in the series.
In this book, Harry, the paranormal investigator whose surname lends its name to the series title, and Michael Carpenter, a Knight of the Cross, chase a dangerous ghost. In the process, a series of unfortunate events keep setting them two steps back for each step they take forward.
From personified nightmares to an antagonistic faerie godmother, there are plenty of obstacles Harry Dresden has to overcome, tackle, or sidestep to keep Chicago safe.
The book balances detective and supernatural themes brilliantly. It is a decent standalone read and has a high repeat reading value, which is why it is the most recommended Dresden Files title for newcomers to the series.
This book is the fourth in the series and takes place in a fleshed-out world. Enough world-building has happened since the first book to make this book’s plot a lot more immersive. The story’s main driver is the transference of Dresden’s debt from his faerie godmother to Mab, the Winter Queen of the Sidhe.
She offers to free Dresden if he complies with three of her wishes. The first favor entails solving the murder of a Summer Knight (also the book title). Dresden resists but is forced to follow through.
The story takes the reader deeper into the Dresden lore, showcasing characters with powers that were previously never revealed. Aside from power and character debuts, Summer Knight is a book that wears its medieval themes with pride. From royal courts to negotiated treaties, there are plenty of elements reminiscent of a medieval mythological tale. At the same time, this work is unmistakably modern and doesn’t shy from its commercial appeal.
Death Masks follows Summer Knight but has a slight thematic shift. From medieval courts and royal patronage, the story shifts to religious patronage and spiritual conspiracies. Dresden is tasked with finding the stolen Shroud of Turin.
Even taking up the assignment puts Dresden in danger. He is urged by friends and acquaintances to drop the investigation but chooses to pursue it. The stakes are high, and almost any new character introduced in this book can be the possible culprit.
This title reads like a thriller in some places and like an excellent mythological exploration in others. It is a good book to read if you’re familiar with the Dresden universe.
This book marks the end of the “golden period” in Dresden fiction, according to some readers. While many fans maintain that Butcher kept improving his writing throughout the publication of the Dresden Files, the three entries since The Summer Knight have been consistent hits. After this book, the chronology continues, but the books vary in quality.
Blood Rites follows Dresden on a quest to solve a series of murders on an adult film set. What seems like a regular murder investigation turns out to have a curse behind it. And who else other than the paranormal investigator Harry Dresden can solve a series of murders where magic is a weapon?
Dead Beat features a McGuffin search that would be cliche in any other setting, but in the world of Harry Dresden, the story takes off on an unpredictable tangent before it masterfully reigns into a more familiar conclusion.
Dead Beat explores necromancy and the threat of powerful beings amassing and consolidating more power. Dresden races to Halloween and has to find, within three days, The Word of Kemmler, while his colleague-turned-friend, Karrin Murphy, is under threat of being framed. This book is a great read for any thriller or supernatural fiction fan.
This book progresses Dresden’s character while telling a story where the paranormal investigator has to confirm the use of black magic in Chicago, find out why two factions of fae are suspiciously at peace, and figure out the culprit behind a series of attacks at the horror convention.
But instead of remaining a follow-the-clue mystery, this story takes a turn towards a battle between good and evil. Dresden finds out enough to warrant intervention, after which he has to lead an offensive.
Proven Guilty is a book that sets up a future saga and is therefore not for people who are just getting into The Dresden Files. But those who have read a few volumes, even if not the ones immediately preceding this one, can enjoy it. Some themes repeat in this volume, but there is enough new stuff to make this title worthy of being at the top of the Dresden Files list.
Surprisingly, the last in the top 10 Dresden Files is the first book, which launched the Dresden Files into the mainstream consumer consciousness.
Storm Front is, in many ways, the origin story of Dresden, even though it takes place in a period where the wizard has his private investigation practice set up. He is hired to investigate the odd behavior of a magician.
While it seems like a hired-by-the-wife story where an affair might be the subject of Dresden’s investigation, magical murders take center stage.
The conclusion of this “case,” however, is somewhat predictable, which is why Storm Front isn’t among the top three Dresden Files books. Still, it has the advantage of an introduction, which is why any top Dresden Files book list is incomplete without this title at the top.
Dresden Files FAQs
What Genre Is Dresden Files?
The Dresden Files falls under the urban fantasy and dark fantasy umbrellas, though it can be argued that it is supernatural noir fiction.
Butcher hasn’t specifically set The Dresden Files squarely into a genre box, and different installments seem to explore different themes.
What Age Group Are Dresden Files Books For?
The Dresden Files is for young adults and adults, but mature tweens can enjoy it as well. Some themes might be too dark for pre-teens, though, which is why parental caution is required when selecting Dresden Files titles for young readers.
Is The Dresden Files Ongoing?
Dresden Files is ongoing, though the writer took a long hiatus from the series in the past. As of 2023, the status of the series is ongoing.
What Kind Of Dog Is Mouse In Dresden Files?
Mouse doesn’t belong to a canine breed in our world, but the author has said that the dog resembles the Caucasian Mountain Dog.
Does The Dresden Files Get Better?
The Dresden Files is unanimously considered a series that gets better with new installments. Its initial book isn’t its strongest, and the series picks up its pace from the third book.
When Did Jim Butcher Start Writing Dresden Files?
Butcher wrote The Dresden Files in 1999 and finished the manuscript in 2000, when it was first published.
Is Dresden Files A Graphic Novel?
Dresden Files is available as a graphic novel series as well, but it is primarily a written-word novel series. Adaptations in graphic novel and TV series formats have helped popularize the franchise for a broader audience.
Wrapping It Up
The Dresden Files is a supernatural detective fiction series that sets the standard for urban fantasy novels. It has a long and rich chronology, with a world built by an author who grew up in awe of the likes of Tolkien. The book series balances commercial appeal with high-integrity authorship and is a must-read for consumers of the urban fantasy and supernatural noir genres.