The nth book of the series, Cold Days sets a fairly frentic pace without much downtime in it. It's a solid work in the series, probably falling somewh...moreThe nth book of the series, Cold Days sets a fairly frentic pace without much downtime in it. It's a solid work in the series, probably falling somewhere in the middle with respect to overall quality. Better than the previous book, not as good as the two prior to that.
I give Butcher credit for really shaking things up in his story/universe, something many authors have been reluctant to do. Starting a few books ago, he really turned a lot of the story on its head, and while some of it has been somewhat unturned, the twists keep coming. I've also found throughout his books that he's pretty good at pulling off an unexpected twist or two—no matter how many I see coming, he usually manages to squeeze in at least one more.
The biggest drawback to me was the humor. Harry has always been a smart ass, free with the cultural cross-reference joke, and I've generally enjoyed them, but in this book it felt over-the-top and forced. Instead of being just part of the character(s), it felt more like the author trying to continually show how clever he was. (less)
A bit of a letdown after the previous story. Butcher did some fairly daring with the end of the last book and this book (he didn't have to; there were...moreA bit of a letdown after the previous story. Butcher did some fairly daring with the end of the last book and this book (he didn't have to; there were any number of ways he could have played the end of the previous book differently, although they would have been a cop out). Unfortunately, from the broad perspective, there was only way this book could end and it was obvious from the very beginning. The story felt more telegraphed than some of the others and felt a bit rushed. Also, the writing is a bit more redundant (I noticed this in the previous book also); Butcher has to describe various aspects of magic and/or background to the reader in exposition (in case they hadn't read or didn't remember details from previous books), but he's done it so often that he's now starting to repeat his exposition within the same volume. Another sign of rushed writing, or poor editing. There was also a continuity oddity or two that seemed off to me.
All of this is not to say that Ghost Story isn't a good book, but it doesn't stand as one of the better books in the series and definitely doesn't fails to live up to the promise of the previous volume.(less)
This series has started to really come along strong, with this book being no exception. The characters and back story are continuing to develop well a...moreThis series has started to really come along strong, with this book being no exception. The characters and back story are continuing to develop well and the denouement is much less dependent on seemingly deus-ex machina incidents for conclusion. Looking forward to the next story. (less)
Dresden and the global story are really moving along by this book, with actual character growth and advancement (a shockingly novel concept for many s...moreDresden and the global story are really moving along by this book, with actual character growth and advancement (a shockingly novel concept for many series). At the end, it even takes a twist which could lead to a lot of potential interesting future stories. A series which just keeps getting better.(less)
Quite possibly the best book of the series so far, at some point part way through this novel it suddenly struck me how much better the writing was tha...moreQuite possibly the best book of the series so far, at some point part way through this novel it suddenly struck me how much better the writing was than in the earlier books. I'm not sure precisely what aspect was better, but definitely had this feeling that Butcher's writing had matured quite a bit.
A solid tale about necromancy, this story also advances the grander plot quite a bit with a few twists that definitely wouldn't have been predicted from the previous books, but serve to move things in interesting ways. Definitely looking forward to the next one.(less)
Jim Butcher has developed a tendency to start his books with a bang. This story is bookended by them (pun intended) and they are bigger than anything...moreJim Butcher has developed a tendency to start his books with a bang. This story is bookended by them (pun intended) and they are bigger than anything he's pulled before. Changes brings together long-running threads, hints, and plots to twist the characters and long arc into new directions. Never was a title more apropos. By the end, a number of long-running plot elements are (presumably) well-and-truly finished, but quite a lot remains, with some new elements and twists added. Where the story goes next is hard to imagine, but should be exciting to find out.(less)
A solid novella-length work about a young Rachel Morgan as she attempts to summon the ghost of her father in order to get permission to join the IS. B...moreA solid novella-length work about a young Rachel Morgan as she attempts to summon the ghost of her father in order to get permission to join the IS. Better than many of Harrison's other shorter works, I think part of its success is due to the fact that the longer novella format gives her more room to work with than the short story. Although a prequel to the primary novels, the events in this book set up characters and events that start to appear around the 7th book.
Unfortunately, some of the events detailed in this book are later contradicted in the primary novels. I don't think this story is to blame, as much as Harrison wanting to integrate characters and ideas without having planned ahead to do so, and thus essentially being forced to retcon certain details in the novels to fit the greater theme. It's a shame because the later changes potentially detract from what is a solid story. (less)
Possibly the best of the series thus far, Blood Rites focuses a bit more on the White Vampire Court (as opposed to the Red and Black which have had la...morePossibly the best of the series thus far, Blood Rites focuses a bit more on the White Vampire Court (as opposed to the Red and Black which have had large roles in previous stories) and sets events in motion which may fundamentally change Harry's view of magic, the white council, and the world at large. Only a few of Harry's friends and acquaintances make appearances in this book (Murphy, Thomas, Ebenezer, and Kincaid), but the relationships with all of them are given more depth than previous books have sometimes allowed. Potentially a transitional book in the series, it is well written and definitely leaves one wanting more.(less)
The 4th and 5th books of the series, Wizard by Trade moves beyond the early stumbling and world building of the first few books and delivers a pair of...moreThe 4th and 5th books of the series, Wizard by Trade moves beyond the early stumbling and world building of the first few books and delivers a pair of solid stories of wizard Harry Dresden and his battle to do what is right in the face of adversity.(less)
A collection of short stories and novelettes from the Harry Dresden universe. Most of the stories are individually good, but very few stand out as bet...moreA collection of short stories and novelettes from the Harry Dresden universe. Most of the stories are individually good, but very few stand out as better than that. As a whole they slip between the main novels moderately well. The later ones are more likely to contain plot elements that work their way back into the primary novels, while the earlier ones tend to be more filler.
Restoration of Faith - A short story prequel to the series, it is clearly a rough and early story about Harry as a younger PI. 2.5 stars
Vignette - An extremely short story, a discussion between Harry and Bob about an ad in the Yellow Pages. Not much to it, but focuses on humor. 2.5 stars
Something Borrowed - A short story which takes place between Dead Beat and Proven Guilty, it is a tight story about the events surrounding Billy and Georgia's wedding. 3.5 stars
It's My Birthday Too - A short story which takes place perhaps 8 months after White Night, Valentine's Day also happens to be Thomas's birthday (naturally) and Harry attempts to deliver him a present and gets caught in the middle of LARP meeting reality. 3 stars
Heorot - A short story which takes place sometime after the previous story and before Small Favor, Harry investigates a kidnapping and inadvertantly leanrs some of the backstory to a previously mysterious (and little seen) secondary character. 3.5 stars
Day Off - An attempt at humor, this is a slapstick story about Dresden trying to take a day off from work (sometime after Small Favor). While a bit amusing it doesn't reach the level of laugh out loud funny one would want from such a story. 2.5 stars
Backup - A novelette which takes place between Small Favor and Turn Coat, this tale is told from Thomas's point of view rather than Harry's. The first story to show Harry from someone else's perspective, there really isn't a lot to it to make it work. 2.5 stars
The Warrior - Another story between Small Favor and Turn Coat, this is a fairly solid tale which nicely captures some of the fallout from the end of Small Favor with regard to Michael and his family. One of the stronger entries in the book. 4 stars
Last Call - The last short story which occurs before Turn Coat, this tale about magically poisoned beer comes off as rather forced. 2.5 stars
Love Hurts - A short story which takes place between Turn Coat and Changes, this is another attempt at forced humor where Harry and Murphy get caught under a love potion type of spell. Works on a limited level. 2.5 stars
Aftermath - A novelette taking place shortly after the end of Changes, without giving anything away the story focuses on an investigation into supernatural kidnappings. 3 stars(less)
Pale Demon is the ninth book in the Rachel Morgan/Hollows series and is easily the best of the last few. Harrison manages to wrap up many of the ousta...morePale Demon is the ninth book in the Rachel Morgan/Hollows series and is easily the best of the last few. Harrison manages to wrap up many of the oustanding threads in reasonably satisfying fashion, without meandering too far off rail as she did in some of the previous books. Future books may go in many different directions from this ending and it will be intriguing to see which direction she decides to take it.
A large portion of the story takes place as part of a cross-country road trip, giving the readers the first real look at the broader implications of The Turn as it affected the country as a whole (all of the previous books, but one, had taken place essentially entirely in Cincinnati, and even that one was really a fairly simple shift from one city to another). This helps expand the background and story to a broader vision than has really been previously given.
On the other hand, Rachel's relationships with others is still a bit rough around the edges at times. The story starts with what is essentially a giant step backwards in her relationshp with Trent, not flowing very naturally from the events of the previous book(s). This discordance is gradually overcome, but feels like it was forced into the story for dramatic tension then becuase it was a natural progression from the overall plot.
In a similar vein, I'm not sure how happy I am with the romantic direction the story is taking. Off the top of my head, Rachel's relationships average about two books each. It started with Nick, which was clearly doomed and problematic from the beginning, shifted to Kirsten, which was ended for plot reasons, had a brief dallience with the out-of-town-witch-whose-name-escapes me, which was clearly meant as filler, and in the more recent books has had something start up with Pierce. This doesn't include the more complicated issues of her relationship with Ivy, which is one of the more tragic elements of the longer story. The shift in this book is in some sense very predictable, and one could ask how and why this didn't begin sooner. On ther other hand, Harrison threw a curve ball to readers by not having it happen sooner, so perhaps the better question in why does this suddenly happen now. It's not clear how well this will translate in the next book or two.
Overall this book was an excellent addition to the series and has carried through on the promise of the previous volume to get the story and writing back on track. Interestingly, with very little change, this could easily have served as the final book in the series. It's clearlly not meant to be that way, but Harrison closed off enough events in a staisfying enough manner that she could have shut down the tale here, something I certainly wouldn't have predicted at the start of this book. It certainly leaves her with a wide-open pallete of possibilites for the future.(less)