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Great For Fans of Harry But Feels A Bit Like Filler,
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This review is from: Ghost Story (The Dresden Files series Book 13) (Kindle Edition)
As I nearly always do when reviewing Dresden Files novels I will start with a warning. If Ghost Story is the first Dresden novel you've contemplated buying then don't. Go back to the first novel, Storm Front (Dresden Case Files), and work your way from there. Trying to engage with the Dresden universe for the first time via Ghost Story, Changes (Dresden Files) or any of the last five or six books would be like trying to join a very involved debate halfway through and with no idea what the original subject was. The Dresden Files are great but need to be tackled in order from the beginninhg.
If you're already a fan of Harry, Murphy, Mouse, Molly, Thomas, Butters, Queen Mab and myriad of characters who populate the universe that Jim Butcher has crafted over 13 novels then you'll enjoy Ghost Story as much as I did. I'd doubt however, that you'll be totally blown away by it.
Sure, it resolves the shock ending of Changes and I will admit that the ultimate answer to the question of who shot Harry and more importantly why is one I did not see coming at all. The whole 'Harry-as-a-Ghost' concept also shakes up proceeding considerably and gives the book a somewhat unique feel within the series as a whole. Plus it keeps you guessing right up to the end about how the hell Harry will get out of the predicament of being deceased, or whether he will at all. Add in the usual fine character work, some decent action and the opportunity for some hitheto secondary characters such as Morty and Butters to come to the fore and you have a solid entry in the series.
What it doesn't do however, is reach the heights that series is capable of. After the series changing events of 'Changes' this latest adventure feels a bit like Jim Butcher catching his breath. Whilst the whole 'Harry's Dead' thing is a good hook it feels like Butcher is using it partially as a smokescreen to distract readers from the fact that not a lot really happens over the course of Ghost Story. The primary threat Harry and his friends encounter is a dangerous but not a particularly significant one. Its more about how they'll defeat it rather than will they. The fact that Butcher has to pad out the narrative with a significant number of flashbacks to young Harry (none of which add much to our understanding of Dresden after 13 novels) and a whole subplot involving a Fagin-esque sorceror tells you how thin the main plot thread actually is.
The real purpose of Ghost Story seems to be setting up a number of new, larger story arcs for Harry and other characters. With the destruction of the Red Court in Changes Harry was left without a primary foe to fight. It would seem that the Fomor, glimpsed in Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Filesand much discussed here but relegated to a background role, are to be that new foe. At the same time the book allows key characters such as Murphy and Molly to be given make-overs that shift the dynamics between them and Harry, introduces new ones such as Fitz and his crew who seem set to become Harry's equivalent of the Baker Street Irregulars, and it allows the author to address if not tie up few loose ends such as Harry's recruitment as Mab's Winter Knight.
All of which is fascinating to long standing fans of the series such as me, but doesn't make for the most high-octane entry in the series. Ghost Story feels simultaneously like a throwback to earlier Dresden Files, with their comparatively self-contained tales, and somewhat like a filler episode before the next epic battle commences. Having become used to earth shattering, grand adventures and complicated plot threads stretched out over multiple novels, it all seems like a bit of an anti-climax.
So not a mis-fire but also not up there with the best of the Dresden Files. It does however, whet the appetite for what's to come for Harry, his friends and his frenemies. Roll on the next volume.