Review of GHOST STORY by Jim Butcher
DRESDEN FILES #13
Roc, July 2011
Harry hooks up with some of his usual sidekicks, including now ex-cop Murphy and ex-aprentice and current nightmare to the badguys Molly. With Harry's destruction of the Red Court, and Harry's vanishing, a lot of serious badguys, largely of the supernatural variety, have been expanding into new territory and Chicago seems to be wide open. Harry is distracted from his search for his own killer by the need to confront some of these evils, including an entity that has a hold over a segment of Harry's old friend skull-Bob.
All of this would be pretty much an easy day's work for Harry... if his powers were intact. As it is, his attempts to flash fire at his enemies depletes him and doesn't seem to do them much harm. What Harry doesn't know until it's almost too late is that each time he tries to work magic, he's depleting the memories that give his ghost form... and thinning out to the point where he'll become an empty shade.
With GHOST STORY, author Jim Butcher (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of speculative fiction by Butcher) throws the reader a slightly different look at Dresden. He's still concerned about others, willing to act first and plan later, and used to thinking of himself as the man in charge, but now he's got to act through other people, limited in what he can do, and definitely limited in his ability to change the world through his familiar fire magic.
For me, the discovery of Harry's actual killer is a bit of anticlimax, and the conclusion was a bit predictable given the hints Butcher had thrown out. Still, Harry's dealing with young Fitz, watching Molly deal with life without Harry, and Harry's ghost-brigade raid on Corpsetaker's fortress is prime Harry Dresden and exciting action.
One final thought--throughout the series, Harry faces new challenges and changes and grows as a result. Not starting at the beginning of the series means that the reader spends some time struggling to catch up. Although Butcher spends a fair amount of time providing backstory here, I still wouldn't recommend picking up GHOST STORY as my first book in the Dresden Files series. At a minimum, go back one book to CHANGES.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to email@example.com. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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