Grave Peril

After reading something as thought-provoking as Ian McDonald's The Dervish House, I was aware that I needed to tackle something lighter, something more fast-paced, for my next book. And Jim Butcher's Grave Peril, the third installment in the now insanely popular The Dresden Files sequence, appeared to fit the bill rather perfectly.

Though a bit formulaic and episodic in format, the misadventures of the wizard Harry Dresden have always made for fun-filled reads.

Here's the blurb:

Harry Dresden's faced some pretty terrifying foes during his career. Giant scorpions. Oversexed vampires. Psychotic werewolves. It comes with the territory when you're the only professional wizard in the Chicago area phone book.

But in all Harry's years of supernatural sleuthing, he's never faced anything like this: the spirit world's gone postal. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble — and not just of the door-slamming, boo-shouting variety. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly. Someone — or something — is purposely stirring them up to wreak unearthly havoc.

But why? And why do so many of the victims have ties to Harry? If Harry doesn't figure it out soon, he could wind up a ghost himself...

As was the case with its predecessors, Storm Front (Canada, USA, Europe) and Fool Moon (Canada, USA, Europe), Grave Peril features the first-person narrative of the sympathetic, if frequently inept, sole wizard in Chicago. Although he may not always be the sharpest tool in the shed, I find it hard not like and root for Harry Dresden. Like James Bond, you know he'll pull through in the end. Hence, it's in the execution that you truly get to enjoy Jim Butcher's stories. And the witty tone of the narrative adds an extra layer to the overall reading experience.

The supporting cast is again comprised of Bianca St. Claire, Karrin Murphy, Susan Rodriguez, Bob the Skull, and the cat Mister. But new characters play an important role in this book, chief among them Michael Carpenter, a Knight of the Cross, Leanansidhe, Dresden's faerie Godmother, Thomas Raith, a White Court vampire, as well as Mavra, a Black Court vampire.

The addition of new characters provides yet more hints that this series echoes with more depth than meets the eye. The introduction of new concepts such as the various vampire Courts, the faeries, and the Knights of the Cross is yet more evidence in that regard. Hopefully, there will be more developments regarding these concepts in the next volume. For, as fun and entertaining as these novels are, I'm afraid that they will lose their appeal if they remain too formulaic and episodic in style and scope.

Once again a fast-paced urban fantasy plot, Grave Peril has more surprising twists and turns than the more linear first two volumes. Especially the fate of one of the main protagonists at the end, which sort of shocked me, for I never saw it coming. I'm glad to discover that it won't always be a case of all's well that ends well. . .

If you are looking for quality urban fantasy books featuring a flawed and endearing wizard trying to do the right thing, then I strongly urge you to pick up The Dresden Files books.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe, and Subpress for the limited edition

7 commentaires:

machinery said...

and what's with the moderation, have some people been naughty or something ?

machinery said...

well, you can't judge that series that way.
you can criticize the book, on it's own merits or demerits.
but the series has a story that goes as a theme through it, and even though each book is more or less stand alone, it's also a contributor to the whole story line.
the first three books in the series were good but their importance was in setting the stage for the whole series.

as such, it's one of the best.

Anonymous said...

If you were shocked by the ending on Grave Peril, then you should really start reading more of the series until you reach the latest, Changes... that'll knock your boots off with shocking endings.

Patrick said...

Machinery: Got spammed rather heavily by one or more GRRM haters about 2 weeks ago. And since I don't have time to monitor the blog all the time, and since I prefer to give the opportunity to leave comments to everyone, the moderation seemed like the best way to go while I was abroad...

GunMetalBlue said...

Grave Peril is where Butcher REALLY starts to ramp it up...and by Death Masks you'll want to keep reading them one after the other. Then will come Dead Beat....which will melt your mind with awesome.

Enjoy Pat. All us Dresden fans are envious of you being near the beginning of such a brilliant series.

Philly Homer said...

It's true the end of Grave Peril is where Jim Butcher really starts to stand out. All the characters and factions that you mentioned in your review play a large part in the upcoming books, and they play a large part in improving the overall series.

If you continue on reading the series, I guarantee that by the time you are finished Changes (the latest book) the Dresden Files will be one of your favorite series.

Anonymous said...


You really do need to hold on. The end of "Grave Peril" is where the series really starts getting good. The most recent book "Changes" is a huge slap at the "formulaic" charge sometimes laid upon this series. Butcher does sometimes hit the outline a bit hard, but, I've got to say he's really beginning to transcend that the acussation of over formulization with this series.

Keep reading and let us know what you think.


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