If you haven’t read the earlier books, it’s not a good idea to read this review. Spoilers ahoy! Start with STORM FRONT (Dresden Files #1). If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, then trust me, you won’t be sorry for picking up this series.
I read GHOST STORY while on my family trip in Florida. I’m responsible for turning my entire family into a bunch of Jim Butcher fangirls, and quite proud of that fact.
Now, as for my thoughts—this book is one I had desperately wanted to get my hands on, but hadn’t had the chance to sit down and read. If you know what my schedule has been like, then you know that it’s been taking me anywhere from 2-5 weeks to finish a book lately, simply because I haven’t had the time to fit in any pleasure reading.
My trepidation going in is hard to describe. I love Harry Dresden. This series of books was one of the reasons I chose to write urban fantasy. Yet, in the last book, Harry was shot and, presumably, died. It was a hell of a cliffhanger. Knowing that this book was about Harry wandering around Chicago as a ghost hurt something in my heart. I did and I didn’t want to find out how things turned out. In the end, I had to know what the hell was going on, who killed Harry, and, most of all, what the heck he was going to do about it.
Holy hell, you guys.
This book. It’s epic.
If anything, being a ghost opens up Harry’s eyes to even more dangers in Chicago than he ever imagined. There is a whole separate world that functions alongside the “real,” physical plane, and there are things that want out so they can live again and melt faces. He has to come back to solve his own murder—or he could be stuck as a ghost, watching the world pass him by, unable to be seen, heard, or touched by any of his friends—forever.
It was a surreal and incredible journey. The humor, as always, was the best part of the book. Just when things seemed to be at their most serious, Harry would spout off his snarky one-liners or think something that turned the scary stuff into something absurd. It made some of the truly emotionally draining bits a lot easier to bear.
As powerful as this story was, it wasn’t my favorite in the series. Seeing Harry in such a passive role was… odd. There were a number of flashbacks that, while they moved the story along and were integral to understanding some of Harry’s reasoning, were still flashbacks. And while he did have a truly epic battle toward the end, there was far too much reflection and thinking and twiddling thumbs on Harry’s part to get there. As a character, it was a good thing for him to take a step back, but to spend the bulk of the story as the mostly powerless new kid was, frankly, painful to endure after all of the amazing things he’s done and accomplished and defeated in the earlier books.
Plus, some of the changes Molly, Butters, and Murphy went through in the interim between Harry’s death and then return to Chicago as a ghost were hard for me to buy. Explanations notwithstanding, I am still having a very hard time swallowing Murphy willingly working with or for Marcone, Butters growing a backbone, and Molly buying a ticket to ride the crazytrain.
I’m not sorry I read it, and still recommend it to everyone who is on board with the Dresden Files, but in the end, Harry is in a really shitty place—again. I know the series isn’t over yet, but after all the poor guy has been through, it makes it hard for me to see how he’ll ever get his happily ever after (or get laid, damn it, c’mon Murph, you guys were so close in CHANGES, ARGH). Despite all this, I still can’t wait to get my hands on the next book, COLD DAYS.
I’ve got faith in you, Jim Butcher. I’m in this series ‘til the end, bitter or otherwise.