Meow's Reviews > Ghost Story

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
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's review
Apr 11, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: owned, modern-fantasy
Read from March 28 to April 01, 2012

** spoiler alert ** I'm only giving this book a 3 because I did have moments where I laughed and teared up over old Dresdenverse humor.

It's more like a 2.

I had a big bias going into this novel because, unlike a lot of people, I actually really liked the ending of Changes. I thought that in a story about a pulp-action wizard, it was pretty much the perfect, "human" death that could befall Harry, just after he'd crossed over some dark lines from which he could never be fully redeemed. He said from the beginning that a bullet was all it would take to kill a wizard, and isn't that ironic (dontcha think). But I was willing to give it a shot. After reading Aftermath, I wasn't ready to give up on the other characters even if I had said goodbye to Harry.

So Ghost Story gives us a chance to take a big step back from the worldwide war of the culmination of the previous books and ruminate on Harry's life, death, and how the world unfolds without him and with the choices he's made.

Which is all well and good, except that it's boring.

I spent half of this book rolling my eyes and eventually started skimming the long info-dump paragraphs at Harry explaining (or re-explaining) how magic works with a variety of metaphors and one too many Star Wars references. In the midst of a normal book, where he takes a pause in the action to give you a funny pop-culture mental reference to understand what's about to happen, this is a place that Butcher excels as a writer. However, in entire chapters worth of the stuff as Harry wanders aimlessly from plot point to plot point, it was pretty boring.

Also, repetitive. Harry muses: "I wonder how many other men's daughters were killed because I did ALL THE THINGS to save mine" (paraphrase). Twice. The same sentence, just rephrased. I actually blinked and went back through the book to make sure I wasn't having some weird fit of deja vu because I remembered that part already. No, not psychic, just pretty much the same paragraph.

When the action kicks up at the end, we're gifted the chance to see Harry make a bunch of huge, giant holes in perception that alive-Harry hadn't. Which is fine, because Harry often bowls straight into the center of meaty mistakes, but... I'm sorry, I felt that the character had evolved a bit more than to be making such goofy errors.

And then... there's a memory bit being removed. Who Harry's killer really was...

. . .

I was not amused or shocked. Just irritated. "The dark spirits whispered in his ear" was even less convincing. And where Harry's body really was the whole time... This was HEAVILY hinted at in Aftermath, so as a reader, I was not surprised, but also: Harry didn't figure out the whole "it's snowing unseasonally, maybe Mab has to do with" nonsense until someone points it out to him halfway through the book?

I could go on. The fact that the last four words in the Hardcover are actually a big typo didn't exactly help how I felt when I finished it. Come on. Just because you've published over 20 books or stories out there doesn't mean that you don't need a serious editing (for continuity/story flow and typos, apparently) when you're jumping into uncharted writing styles, which is what this really was; Changes didn't just mark a change in the world of the Dresdenverse, it marks a change in the entire feel of the series. Gone are the silly PI days of Harry Dresden and no amount of Star Wars versus Star Trek humor is going to return us to it. And I think this book was a pretty unsteady bridge between Part A and Part B.
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Reading Progress

55.0% "I'm getting bored by all of the magic infodump going on and Harry's kind of repetitive but I've been told that it kicks in high gear soon..."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Stephanie Krause The most accurate and honest review I've heard, really. I hope things get better as the series continues. I knew no matter what happened that this would be a weak-ass book next to Changes, so I'm still hopeful that things will get back to "normal" quality, or at least an upswing in #14... *Crosses fingers*

Meow Thank you! I mean, to be honest, I absolutely did not mind a low-key book compared to Changes. In fact, I kind of welcomed it. But it honestly felt like Butcher was writing outside of his comfort zone and he should have had a critical reader of some kind really help him polish this one. With 50 less pages and some good red lines, it could've been a sleek transition into the "new" Dresdenverse. Instead, it was clunky and disappointing. Here's hoping for the next one, eh?

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