Wire. Strands of barbed wire ran about the ghost’s flesh, beneath her torn clothing. The barbs had dug cruelly into her flesh every two inches or so, and her body was covered with small, agonizing wounds….The wire was a single strand that began at her throat and wrapped about her torso, beneath the arms, winding all the way down one leg to her ankle. At either end, the wire simply vanished into her flesh.
‘Sun and stars, I breathed. ‘No wonder she went mad.’”
Someone is torturing the ghosts of Chicago, and the victims are none too happy about it. But why torture a ghost? And why do so many of the ghosts have a connection with our wizarding detective hero, Harry Dresden? Harry, along with Michael, a holy knight named after the avenging angel, work together to solve the case before the mastermind gets his way. Adult Urban Fantasy Published September 1st 2001 by ROC. Jim Butcher is the author of the Dresden Files, the Codex Alera, and a new steampunk series, the Cinder Spires (which I have also reviewed)!
A friend and I read Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series as teenagers, rushing from our rural hometown to a Barnes and Noble over an hour away to buy First Lord’s Fury on its first weekend out, despite AP homework and college assignments and everything else modern high school entails. So when my friend raved about The Dresden Files, I gave it a shot. I pushed through books one and two, but I lost interest halfway through three, despite promises that the series would improve. I just didn’t find the direction all that interesting. I think this was my first—or at least one of my first—urban fantasy series, and I just wasn’t…that impressed? I didn’t like Susan, I couldn’t relate to Harry, I hadn’t read much in the way of noir—or Urban Fantasy, for that matter….it just didn’t work for me.
Recently, I decided to give book III another shot via audio. I had been scolded, encouraged and pleaded with by enough library patrons to try them again. I promised myself to read book III, at least. I’m glad I finished it because I feel like I can now express a valid opinion!
I have to say that from what I remember, Grave Peril is better than the first two books, largely due, I think, to the relationship between Harry and Michael.
‘Oh, Jesus,’ [Harry] whispered. ‘Son of a bitch.’
‘He didn’t mean it, Lord,’ Michael said. ‘Harry? What did you mean?’”
The contrast between these two kept me in fits. But there’s lots more humor where that came from, and that’s my favorite thing about this series. I really enjoyed laughing my way through the audio version of Grave Peril on my way to work, every morning.
As far as the plot, it kept me guessing about the culprit, although there’s a rather short list of Harry’s enemies, and I had guessed the “big reveal” before we got there. The series seems to focus less on plot and more on detailing the world of Dresden’s Chicago and all of its magical power players. I’m trying to be patient with that.
I did enjoy a lot of the ghostly encounters—very creepy and suspenseful—and how Michael has his own sort of power, quite unique from Harry’s. The worldbuilding and magics seem to have endless, fun layers to explore.
I think I quit this series, the first time, because of the characters. I like do like Murphy and I adore Michael, but everyone else is mainly meh.
But I still wanted to keep listening, by the time I finished book III, so it has that going for it. In fact, I’ve already finished book IV and will be posting my review next week!
It was funny, but nowhere near amazing, so I’m just sticking around to find out what all the fuss is about.
Recommended To :
So many people love this series, I would have to say “give it a shot.” Maybe you’re one of the readers who will find a soulmate in Harry Dresden. I don’t know what book will tell you that for sure, or not, but I don’t recommend skipping any of them. There’s a lot of set up in these first three books that you might miss, if you jump straight into book IV.