Pros: Great ups and downs!
Cons: Thought I’d missed an installment or two…
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The ghosts of Chicago are up in arms, and Harry and his friend Michael can barely keep up. Harry tries to help a young woman named Lydia, only to find that an unknown force is stalking her. Ghosts wouldn’t be able to affect the real world so much, but almost anything else should have left footprints while tearing up the place. Harry has to figure out what sort of evil stalks Lydia–and soon he realizes that it’s hunting him and his friends as well. The vampires are involved, as is Harry’s ‘faerie godmother’, who comes to collect on a bargain Harry made. Add to that a romantic relationship that’s getting serious, and the stakes are high.
Jim Butcher’s Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, Book 3) confused me a little at first. Harry is running around town dealing with ghosts with the help of Michael, who uses faith (and a really big sword!) as his weapons. He and Michael have the feel of having been fighting together for some time, yet I don’t remember Michael showing up in either of the previous novels. For a little while I thought I’d gotten the order of the books wrong and accidentally missed an installment; I was surprised to find out I hadn’t. Still, despite the feeling of displacement, I didn’t feel lost or confused within the context of the book. Things were explained well without resorting to infodumps.
I love the characters in the Dresden Files books. Harry is just fantastic as the powerful-yet-beleaguered wizard. Susan as his girlfriend (and also a tabloid reporter who mines Harry for stories) works well with him. They’re an unusual pairing but they have chemistry. Michael is great as a man of God whose faith is so strong that it can bend reality in its own ways. There are some interesting new side characters in this installment, including Thomas the vampire, a possible ally who can’t be trusted. Harry’s ‘godmother’ is quite something herself, and she and Harry go several rounds in which she tries to collect on a bargain and he tries to weasel out of it. Faerie bargainings are something to behold. We see more of the vampires, ghosts, wizardry, name-based magics, and so forth.
All right, so. The entire day wasn’t a living hell.
But, as it turned out, hell got up awfully early in the morning.
The Dresden Files books have a lot of humor and whimsicality in them, but that in no way means that they’re fluff. Very dark things happen, and Butcher isn’t afraid to bring the hammer down on interesting characters. He’s perfectly comfortable stirring things up and changing the face of his world, which means you never quite know how things will go down. There’s plenty of tension, some horror, great pacing, and wonderful humor.
I don’t know how I managed to go so long without reading these, but I’m slowly making up for it now!