Nick Reys's Reviews > Grave Peril

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
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Aug 06, 11

bookshelves: own
Read from August 02 to 06, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** Rogue wizards, werewolves and now ghosts… No day is the same when you’re Harry Dresden. With two Dresden novels behind me, I can say that I enjoy walking with Harry, though it’s not the best urban fantasy I’ve read. This third novel brings ghosts to the table and apart from one book where the main character was a ghost, I haven’t read any urban fantasy yet who features ghosts as the main villains. So I started this book thinking I’d get something new and exciting, but instead I ended up a bit confused about it all.

So it’s been a pretty busy couple of weeks for Harry, with ghosts roaming all over the city and they’re all but nice. With the help of friend and Holy Knight Michael, he sets out to give the ghosts the rest they deserve. But when the ghosts act out of character and strange cold wires seem to be attached to their ghostly form, there’s got to be something more.
Just like in the second Dresden novel, Fool Moon, the story takes a turn halfway through. The first half is all nice, with some ghost hunting and the appearance of Fae Godmother Lea. When the novel turns a page for The Nightmare to appear, things take a turn towards the vampires. As it turns out to be all a set-up designed by Bianca, we find ourselves deep in vampire politics and some heavy action. The different courts – Red, White and Black – are nice, but now it all seems a bit vague. I am sure some light will be shed on this matter in the books to come, but I felt a bit out of touch here with all that was going on.
The whole vampire set-up seemed a bit farfetched at first, but in hindsight, I do get where they’re coming from. At the moment of reading, however, I thought it was a bit over thought and a bit too much. A ghosts-only novel would have worked out very well too, I think, but then the dire consequences wouldn’t have been there, perhaps.
What I did like from the beginning was that it wasn’t just ‘another day at the job’ but instead Harry got to deal with some leftovers from a job we weren’t able to follow in the books. When you leave some time between the books, it is important that your characters don’t stay status quo. For the time you didn’t get to spend with them, also have an influence – they can’t just sleep through the days until you decide to pick up the next book in line and then go on like no time has passed at all, right?

This in between books-time is also reflected in the characters. Apparently, the relationship between Harry and Susan got to a different level since we last saw them and this gives a new emotional depth to Harry as a character. In addition to that was I pleasantly surprised to read that the author isn’t scared of putting his characters through hell, seemingly without a way out. It doesn’t always have to be a happily ever after – or at least until the next case comes along – for everyone, and kudos to Jim for doing that.
When we meet up with him again, Michael also seemed to have joined the forces and while I would like to get some background info on him and where he comes from – cause they act all friend-like but he was never mentioned before – I did like what he brought to the table. He has the ability to balance Harry out as a character, for Harry tends to be a Debbie Downer and Michael is quite the more stable/faithful person. Also, I liked his wife, Charity, so I hope she gets some time on screen in the following installments.
Another relatively big role is for Fae Godmother Lea – a vicious woman, really – but just like it was the case with Michael, I miss some backstory to make the pieces fit.

Missing pieces, that is exactly what is wrong – for me, that is – with this novel. I liked it, and I liked the action and all that was going on, but I feel like I could have liked it more if I knew more about the different Courts who were in play here, or about Michael and Charity and how they ended up with Dresden. I’m pretty sure these gaps will get filled over time, but right now it’s something that’s holding this book back.
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