Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ghost Story: A Review

Ghost Story (Harry Dresden #13)
Written by: Jim Butcher
Hardcover: 481 pages
Publisher: Roc
Language: English
July 2011
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Dresden Files

B When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn't doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn't stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has nobody, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends-and his own soul-Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic...


Sometimes, very similar to the way Joey put The Shining in the freezer on Friends, I don’t want to handle the end of a book. If you put it in the freezer you don’t have to worry about it. Just freeze that moment in time and you are good. I felt that way about Changes. I was in shock. My mouth hung open. I think I have let out a little sob. And then I may or may have not thrown the book across the room like a petulant child.

You see Harry and I have been bibliophile buds for quite some time now. I first started reading Jim Butcher’s series after realizing my current crush, James Marsters, read the audio versions of the Harry Dresden Files. So we would sit down together and recount the snark filled adventures of my favorite wizard. I’ve defended him after people watched the TV version of his stories, but did not read the books and gave up on him (I’ve helped defend Katniss too). Harry is my urban fantasy hero and after 13 books and possibly a year or two after it had come out, I finally decided to take the series out of the freezer and try to continue. But I was so scared. How could you come back from Changes?

Harry is dead. Has been for six months and this is a bit problematic for our favorite Chicago Wizard in residence. He doesn’t have a clue who killed him, has no magic, and the world has become a lot darker because of Harry’s actions and his death. Chicago is not a great place to live really, but the heroes left are trying their best. Karrin Murphy, the Wolves, Father Murphy, Molly Carpenter, etc are coping, but it is a grim vision of a life without Harry Dresden. You see when you wipe out an entire group of Baddies and we mean completely wipe them out and not just in Chicago, there are a lot of baddies who are more than willing to rush into that power vacuum. The Red Court was bad. But things from the Never Never could be worse. A lot worse.

But the Powers that Be are giving Harry another a chance, so he is sent back to what is left of his Chicago to solve not only his own mystery, but save those he cares about. All without using his magical powers… And per usual Dresden fashion, not everything is as it seems. Including the details surrounding his death and return.

Things I loved: I will say that this fairly spoiler heavy for all things CHANGES so if you have not read the book, please stop now. While I will do my best not to spoiler anything major in GHOST STORY, well sometimes I cannot help myself. So be forewarned. No seriously stop reading unless you are okay with spoilers which E says quite a few people are actually okay with.

Ghost Story is the 13th installment and it has your usual Harry suspects: humor, snark, action with some big baddies, and Harry being the self-deprecating hero we have all grown to love. The prose is accessible and for the most part the pacing is decent and well balances (though there are a few more stumbles than usual). And I have to say this is one way to reboot or at least breathe new life into a longstanding series.

Harry is neither dead nor alive. Instead he is somewhere in between and acting very much like a ghost. For Harry this is devastating as he is unable to interact with the world as he used to including saving those he cares about. As much as Harry as unable to do a lot of physical things in this book we see how much the world has changed with his actions and with his death. The creatures and things that go bump are back in town now that Harry is gone. Everyone has changed, into something different, something that is trying to keep the city safe no matter what the cost. Karrin is cold and lethal as ever, Butters has grown, and…Molly. Molly does her best as the Ragged Woman, to create a thing for the bad guys to fear, but she is just the Grasshopper. Her Mr. Miyagi is gone. I kind of just wanted to hug Molly lots.

I love the ghosty physics. Reasons why Harry doesn’t sink into the ground or how different types of spirits exist and how much they are able to interact with the real world. I also like the essentially we are made up of memories and those memories have value and power, even more so when you know the trick of it all.

There are some truly great moments in this book that made me get all weepy eyed such as Mister’s reaction, Molly as a whole, and eben people like Karrin and Butters. I also dug the fairly big revelation about a major event in Harry’s past. While it does not directly affect the Ghost Story plotline, I do think it will become important in the future or at least come into further play.

Things I didn’t love so much: There are some stumbles in this volume and perhaps if I had read Changes and Ghost Story one after another like a Netflix binge on House of Cards I may have been forgiving. *Shrug* Harry spends a good time not only justifying his actions from Changes with the Red Court and everything else that it didn’t seem very authentic to Harry. While Harry is not an ass once he makes a decision he sticks with it.

I also hated that I knew the trick of it all (who murdered Harry and why) so early in the book and would have preferred to be a bit more clueless, just like Harry, and have it slowly unfurl instead of me waiting for Harry to catch up. The murder is force fed on you with a gigantic spoon.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. A worthy addition to the Dresden Files and an excellent way to breathe new life into the ongoing series.

Part of: The Dresden Files
Storm Front (Book One)
Fool Moon (Book Two)
Grave Peril (Book Three)
Summer Knight (Book Four)
Death Masks (Book Five)
Blood Rites (Book Six)
Dead Beat (Book Seven)
Proven Guilty (Book Eight)
White Night (Book Nine)
Small Favor (Book Ten)
Turn Coat (Book Eleven)

Also Recommended: The Felix Castor series by Mike Carey, the Sandman Slim novels by Richard Kadrey, Simon R Green’s John Taylor series, Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.

3.50 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

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