Book Review – Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story

Die alone....

So I’ve been meaning to write this review for awhile, I kind of a did a little mini review of it when I first started reading, but I’ve been finished for awhile and it’s had time to digest for me. I imagine there will be spoilers, so you have been warned.

Overall score: 8/10 Pentacles

The book was another great Dresden adventure, but I don’t think it will go down in the records as my favorite in the series. But it was hardly a failure. I spent half the book yelling at the pages wishing I was some kind of speed reader because there were so many questions to answer and they were all dragging out so slowly. Harry spent a lot of time alone and isolated from his allies in this book, and that’s not terribly unique, he practically had no allies in Book 1: Storm Front, but at the same time it was frustrating because on top of that he was incorporeal and unable to interact with the world around him. He’s a ghost and in the Dresdenverse only insane ghosts can physically interact with the mortal world, sane ghosts can only interact with certain magically gifted individuals and other spirits or magical creatures. So it was a central challenge of the book for Harry to over come, not being able to just blow shit up, kick down doors, and burn down buildings.

Harry’s Chicago and the rest of the world has also been turned upside down as a direct result of his actions in Changes when he destroyed the Red Court, but also as a result of his absence for the 6 months after his death. Murphy is even more beat up and demoralized since we last saw her, she’s lost her badge and has been forced to ally herself with the king of crime John Marcone and occasionally the White Court of Vampires too. She hasn’t taken up one of the Swords of the Cross yet, but I think that’s coming down the tunnel for her. I also think Michael eldest son, Daniel is bound to end up with his father’s sword here in short order, which I think would be fitting and great to see unfold. I wanted to see more of Michael, which we actually saw zero of him in this book, but we did learn that Maggie (Harry’s daughter) is living with the Carpenters now which made me very happy. It was totally fitting and within character for both Michael, Charity, and Father Forthill that Maggie would be sent to live with them and their secret service detail of guardian Angels when Harry couldn’t take the girl himself. When Molly developed magical abilities, Harry not only took her as an apprentice, he put his life on the line to do so, the Carpenters are the perfect guardians for Maggie.

I didn’t get to see enough of Michael, Thomas or Mouse in this book and that was very frustrating. All of those characters had very legitimate reasons to be absent, and we at least got to see Mouse and Thomas by the end. BTW good on Justine for finally figuring out a loop hole in the whole White Vampire’s weakness to True Love thing. It’s just the sort of thing that could bring Thomas back out of the darkness and onto the side of Good again. I’m really surprise Bob’s nasty dirty mind didn’t think of that solution, a kinky threesome is right up the skull’s alley of thought. I deducted star because I missed these characters so much. Also, not that I missed him, but John Marcone was sure talked about a lot considering he never got any screen time. What the hell is that bastard up to?

Speaking of Bob! Oh. My. Science! It was awesome getting this one chance for Harry to be inside Bob’s skull and see the spirit’s “home” in a sense. We did get to learn lots of awesome little bits about Bob in this book and that was very cool. Also it was very interesting to see Bob and Butters partnered up, Bob being an insane resource into all things magical (and now that he can tap into the EM spectrum and get the internet pretty soon it’ll just be all things period), but Butters being a pure mortal was still able to utilize him, and in some cases in better ways then Harry ever did.

Also, I think it’s awesome that Mort Lindquist has turned out to be much more of a supernatural heavy hitter. I love the idea that while Harry has been out running around Chicago, that Morty could have been running around having his own insane adventures that Harry was never aware of.

In a lot of ways this book was about Harry’s supporting cast, Murphy, Butters, Molly, Billy & the Alphas, becoming the new champions of Chicago’s supernatural world. Which considering Harry really isn’t out of the woods yet, is a good thing. It’s also made some of them into Bad Ass Mo Fo’s. And being inside Molly’s mind and to find out she’s a classic Trekkie at heart….I just wish this was a TV show (done right this time) so we could see what ever sexy actress they cast as Molly running around in classic series mini-skirt uniforms. Sigh. I’m sure my imagination is letting me down somehow…

It was also very gratifying that Kincaid turned out to be the trigger man in the end, as we had all suspected all along, but to have Harry turn out to be the architect of his own murder was just brilliant! I don’t think anyone could have seen that coming. Or at least I didn’t. We all knew that Harry had a record of cheating his way out of deals with the Fey, but this was a masterful stroke. However, I think Mab cheated some how, the Winter Knight is supposed to serve until death. I know that since his body never actually died it doesn’t seem to have qualified, but hells bells she’s a bitch! Even for a faerie!

I actually deducted a star for the ending. Really another…maybe not cliff hanger…but open ended ending? Up until Changes, most of the Dresden books all wrapped up pretty well be the end. There were some story points that stretched from one book to another, but they didn’t make contemplating an entire year until the next book seem an unbearable proposition. Now Harry is off to the Winter Court with Queen Mab, and he’s still the Winter Knight. I know this is Harry’s life and it kind of makes sense, but that’s just gods damn unfair! For Harry and the readers damn it. It was just disappointing to get to another open ended ending of another Dresden book. I accepted it from Changes, although it was very frustrating at the time. It’s going to be a bit souring if this starts happening with every installment. Especially if Jim Butcher get’s in the habit of falling behind on his publishing schedules and making us wait more than a year. He managed to do a 12 month release on his other Dresden Books when he was still writing Codex Alera, I don’t think Ghost Story warranted the extra 4ish month wait time personally.

I haven’t listened to the Audiobook and it may skew my score further one way or another. Although there isn’t much room to go up. But I’ll probably do that next. After I finish the 3rd Game of Thrones audiobook. I also think I’m due for a Hotel Business type post relatively soon.

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  1. #1 by HoaiPhai on August 21, 2011 - 10:52 PM

    Excellent review! I haven’t read the book but if it’s half as good as your review, it’ll be a top seller!

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