Jim Butcher’s “Ghost Story” came out in late July. I wont bother summarizing the plot, head over to Butcher’s website to take get a brief book jacket summary.
I wanted to review the thirteenth book in the Dresden Files series earlier but I also wanted to stew over the reading before I put up a short review. A friend of mine didn’t think the book was on par with the other books. He was never specific but I gather he believes the series has grounded to a halt and nothing is happening currently in the story.
I on the other hand think Butcher delivered a solid read. No, he did not kick the series up a notch but “Ghost Story” is a fine entry into the series.
“Ghost Story” is an intermission. A stop off. Harry Dresden is dead as of the end of the previous entry in the Dresden Files series–“Changes”. Naturally Butcher cannot have his main character stay dead. So Harry jumps back into action as a ghost and has to find his killer. Hopefully that didn’t spoil anyone’s day, sorry if it did.
The book is meant to create immediate character development. Not for Harry but for his pals. His friends have lived without him for six months, and so has the world. Murphy, Butters, and especially Molly (and so may others), have all had to live in a world without Harry Dresden. The world is scary too. We readers don’t know how badly the world needs Harry to create a sense of stability, nor does Harry for that matter. From the first book Butcher has done something amazing, he’s made all of his hero’s actions have consequences… even the deeds Harry has done in the name of the greater good. And the results are not always rosy red, rarely are his deeds. In Harry’s world, no good deed goes unpunished. “Ghost Story” is the pinnacle of this idea, which is why I enjoyed the book.
I loved seeing the characters grow and change too, responding to Harry’s death in different ways. No, I won’t say how everyone changes but I will say this: some people have grown, others are now broken. Even Harry changes. At least I believe he does. Being a ghost means Harry has no access to his magic. This could have been really boring. But no. Not for Butcher. The author forces Harry to slow down and rely more on his wits. He cannot use magic as a battering ram. Harry needs to think about his moves and in doing so he is made to contemplate all his potential actions and their consequences. No more shooting and asking questions later. Harry cannot shoot, so he’s asking more questions. Good for him. I hope Butcher uses this development.
I’ll say it again. “Ghost Story” is the Dresden Files intermission. Butcher has said that the series will end with an apocalyptic trilogy. Well, “Ghost Story” is the set up for that. The world has changed and not for the better. All the characters are turning into the men and women they need to be for the coming struggle, and this is going to be a brawl!
The one thing I felt lacking was the villain. He/she is someone we have seen before and he/she doesn’t appear to play into the series’ overall arch. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. However, the reveal of Harry’s killer is interesting and how Butcher works Harry back into the living world is cool. Again, I won’t give anything away but know this: everything has consequences… everything Harry does efforts the world and the people he loves.
I’m going to stop here, less I give away too much.
Bottom line: not a step up or big stretch for Butcher’s writing muscles but “Ghost Story” is at least fun. The book is a warm blanket we can snuggle up and feel comfortable wrapped up in. That is good and bad. I am hoping for the next book to propel the series forward. I’ll be there. I love Harry, Bob, Murphy, Molly, and Butters. These are good friends of mine.