Ghost Story

I ran out of superlatives regarding Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files a long time ago. This series has definitely become one of my favorite SFF reads and Changes was the very best one yet!

As mentioned in past reviews, if Dead Beat turned out to be the point where the Dresden Files shifted into high gear, for its part Proven Guilty did build on the storylines introduced in basically every other volume and pushed the envelope even further. Far from losing steam like so many other speculative fiction series, the Dresden Files continued to grow in size, scope, and inventiveness. Having matured as an author with each new book, Jim Butcher has definitely hit his stride and he definitely became more confident, more ambitious. And with so many plot threads coming together to form an impressive tapestry, the potential for what came next was indeed enormous. But with the bar being raised with each new volume, the possibility that Butcher would somehow lose control of his tale, or allow himself to lose focus and simply milk his popularity for all it's worth, remained risks that could become all too real if he did not avoid certain pitfalls that had plagued some of his peers also writing bestselling urban fantasy sequences.

White Night had lofty expectations to live up to. But even if it was a fun and entertaining read in its own right, it was not as good as its last few predecessors. The novel was not as intricately plotted and satisfying as Dead Beat and Proven Guilty turned out to be, yet it nonetheless set the stage for another chapter in the Dresden Files. One that would undoubtedly raise the series to another, deeper and more complex, level. And Small Favor was definitely a return to form for Jim Butcher. The book elevated the series to an even higher level, with several hints of an even bigger and more ambitious story arc that is gradually becoming more and more discernible. Given its predecessor's quality, Turn Coat had big shoes to fill. But Butcher upped his game yet again and came up with his best effort thus far.

Changes proved to be the culmination of all these interwoven plotlines. It raised the bar higher than ever before and nothing will ever be the same for poor Harry Dresden from here on out. Doubtless, this would turn out to be a major turning point for the series and its characters. In many ways, Ghost Story felt like a transition novel meant to bridge what happened before with whatever will come next. And though it couldn't possibly be as great as Changes was, it set the stage for whatever Jim Butcher has in store for us in the future.

And if the ending of Ghost Story is any indication, it appears that the endgame of the Dresden Files will provide plenty of drama and fireworks.

Here's the blurb:

Chicago wizard Harry Dresden gets a taste of the dead life in this novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

In his life, Harry’s been shot, stabbed, sliced, beaten, burned, crushed, and tortured. And after someone puts a bullet through his chest and leaves him to die in the waters of Lake Michigan, things really start going downhill.

Trapped between life and death, he learns that his friends are in serious trouble. Only by finding his murderer can he save his friends and move on—a feat which would be a lot easier if he had a body and access to his powers. Worse still are the malevolent shadows that roam Chicago, controlled by a dark entity that wants Harry to suffer even in death.

Now, the late Harry Dresden will have to pull off the ultimate trick without using any magic—or face an eternity as just another lost soul…

It is safe to say that Harry Dresden's life was complicated. If ever there was someone who deserved to rest in peace, it was Harry. Unfortunately, he will soon discover that the afterlife isn't all it's cracked up to be. By destroying the Red Court, he left an enormous vacuum that countless supernatural bad guys are now trying to fill. Hard to believe given the wizard's misadventures, but his sole presence apparently kept many a paranormal threat out of Chicago. With him gone, factions are now fighting to take control of the city. Even worse, before he can be allowed to rest in peace, he must find the identity of his murderer, or else the people he loves will suffer. No, for Harry Dresden at least, the afterlife is no walk in the park.

As always, the novel features the first person narrative of Harry Dresden. His voice as the only POV, even caught between life and death, continues to be witty and irreverent, filled with dark humor that makes you chuckle every couple of pages or so. As has been the case with the majority of the last few Dresden Files volumes, it's the supporting cast that helps make this one another memorable read. Especially the unexpected appearances from familiar faces we haven't seen in a while. Harry's death had a profound impact on those who were close to him, especially Murphy, Thomas, and Molly Carpenter. There are some truly touching moments involving them. Like he did in Changes, Jim Butcher played the emotional impact card rather well on a number of occasions, which really made you feel for Harry and the rest of the gang.

Changes was hands down the most convoluted installment so far. It began as a relatively straightforward mission but quickly turned into another extremely complicated and intricately plotted ensemble of storylines that linked that novel with plotlines from basically every other volume that came before. It did take a while for everything to come together, yet no other book in the series was this complex and unveiled that many secrets which kept readers begging for more. Revelations about the White Council, the Red Court, the Winter Court, other deities and immortals, the war, and Harry's past make for some compulsive reading. As a transition novel, Ghost Story is no less convoluted, but the plot revolves more about finding the identity of Harry's killer. As a matter of course, Harry finds out a lot more than what he's bargained for. Hints have always been there, yet it now evident that he is a pawn in a game played by higher powers.

Changes delivered on all fronts and it was a tough act to follow. The unanticipated ending signaled that the series would take an abrupt turn from here on out. I know that some fans were not as enthused by Ghost Story, but I'm not sure that anything could live up to the potential showcased in Changes. Ghost Story is probably the most divisive book in the series thus far. And yet, it proved to be a good read in its own right and it sets the stage for bigger and likely not better things for Harry Dresden.

And since Cold Days is considered to be one of Butcher's fans' favorites, it appears that a transition novel like Ghost Story was a necessary evil to help elevate the Dresden Files to yet another level.

The final verdict: 8/10

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1 commentaires:

machinery said...

seems like he is going down the road towards g.r.r.martin and that sub-par writer rothfuss.