Greetings book lovers:
Below is a review of Jim Butcher’s latest novel, Ghost Story. There are spoilers from the previous novel in the series so if you have not read Changes and you are planning on it, you might want to skip this review.
After over a year of waiting Jim Butcher’s thirteenth Dresden Files novel, Ghost Story, was released on Tuesday, July 26th. The book was originally slated to be released in April of 2011 but the author felt that the book was not ready at that time. The question is, was the wait worth it for fans?
The last book ended, not in a cliff-hanger as Butcher points out in his forward, but with the death of our protagonist, Harry Dresden, Wizard. That’s right. Harry saves his daughter, is finally about to make it with the woman of his and the reader’s dreams, and then he gets shot and tumbles into the icy waters of Lake Michigan. That’s a bummer. In the wait between novels, a short story following Karrin Murphy, the above mentioned lady love, was published as a teaser in the Dresden-themed collection,Side Jobs. The story was set directly after Dresden’s death, and followed Murphy’s shock and coping. Fans were moved. More depressing “Harry’s dead” wailing was expected. When Ghost Story finally debuted, that’s not quite what readers got.
Butcher’s Ghost Story begins directly (we assume) after Dresden’s death. Rather than weeping and gnashing of teeth, the story sticks one-sidedly to Dresden’s perspective. Which, I suppose, shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise. After some reflecting on what death is or isn’t, the loophole we are all expecting makes its way into the plot and Harry’s shade is sent back to Chicago in order to solve his own murder after making some new acquaintances on the way.
What ensues for the next one hundred pages is a whole lot of action, and not a whole lot of plot. Harry gets used to being all ghostified, he learns about the big evils currently decimating (that’s funny, read the book) Chicago, fights or doesn’t fight a lot of spectral figures, finds a personal Obi-Wan type, can’t use his magic, and slowly catches up with the familiar cast of characters. I have to admit, for as long as I’d waited for this book to come out, at first I wasn’t that into it.
After the first hundred or so pages, the plot began to pick up. Dresden started doing his detective thing, and gathered, as only Dresden can, a seemingly insurmountable list of problems and people to save complicated even farther by sunrise and, oh yeah, not being able to touch the mortal world. In other words, the book gets back to what made the series an international best-seller in the first place: Dresden has a lot of problems and solves them with bravado, mystical aid, and a lot of sass.
The rest of the novel was almost completely satisfying. Characters grew, as did Dresden’s perception of them, problems were resolved, and there was plenty of firepower and biting wit. My main complaint while reading was the complete absence of Winter Knight obligation in the book. The previous few novels had built up all of this drama, in a moment of despair Dresden finally signed the deal with the dark fae in order to save his offspring, and then Butcher just ignores this for the entire novel? That’s awfully convenient for Dresden, and awfully annoying for me. I will say nothing about the end of this book, except that my complaint is no longer valid.
So, yes, the wait was worth it for me, even if I feel a little bad for saying that I’m much more excited for the next novel.
Four stars out of five