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REVIEW: 'Ghost Story' by Jim Butcher

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.  But even trapped in the realm between life and death, Harry can't catch a break. He learns that three of his friends are destined to experience unbearable torment and agony. Only by bringing his murderer to justice can he save his friends and move on to what comes next-- a feat that would be a lot easier if he had a body and access to his powers. 

Instead, Harry must work as a ghost, unable to interact with the physical world, invisible and inaudible to almost everyone. Unfortunately he's not the only specter roaming Chicago. There are malevolent shadows who haven't forgotten Harry's predilection for putting evil in its place while he was alive. And now that Harry's on their turf, they are looking for some serious payback. 

So 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.


Harry Dresden is dead... Long live Harry Dresden!

As readers know Harry was shot at the end of the last book, him falling into Lake Michigan and his body not found. Also as readers know... that wasn't the end of his story. In 'Ghost Story' Harry is back as-- you guessed it-- A Ghost! It adds an interesting twist to such a long running series.

Though I'm not a fan of so many powerful beings playing games and cryptic messages where they 'hint' to the heroes and readers, Butcher at least handles it masterfully. For something I'm critical of, I never found myself pushed away from the story. I try to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible (though no holds barred in commenting so beware) so I'll discuss the story enough to say that much of it is typical from this type of story. The strange in-between limbo world, being sent back, powerful forces passing along cryptic messages, ghost problems, etc. But I thought the important parts of the book: the people, the emotion was great. Chicago has changed a lot since Harry's 'death', it's been six months since he was shot. Some characters may go in directions a reader won't like, some become more interesting. Morty and Butters made a good showing whereas Murphy and especially Harry's old apprentice Molly were a little worse for wear without Harry in their world. It was interesting to see how things have changed in Chicago without Harry around as well as see some of the consequences of his victory over the Red Court Vampires.

More questions than usual went through my head as I read the book. Questions about why someone would do this or that, questions about how this could happen a certain way, etc. I thought Butcher tied it all up well by the end and left me feeling like everything made as much sense as possible. About the only thing left hanging from this story was what happens to Bob (which I'm sure will be touched on in the future).

I'm curious to see where Butcher is going with Dresden. I believe he said he was building toward a trilogy like epic story at the end of this series. The last couple books have changed the tone of the series a bit toward a heavier and darker story as we see the built to whatever struggles lay ahead. At the end of Ghost Story we are definitely left with Harry's head on straight and a casual mention of being ready for the battles ahead.

Bottom Line:

I don't think Dresden fans are waiting for my review to pick this book up. I'm sure many of them have already read it. For anyone curious about the series it's one of my favorites and I highly recommend it to fans of urban fantasy.


  1. the biggest problem I had with the book was addressed about halfway in. It wasn't a function of inconsistency, but rather a function of Harry being a dipshit at times. Which is fairly consistent.

    But you can't go into this book, knowing it's just one of an entire series that is not ending yet, with any doubt about the fact Harry's coming back to life. I mean, if you consider that to be a spoiler, you may also never have discovered the secret answer behind "2+2=???" Butcher's spoiled the issue because he's already talked about how the series will continue for several more books.

    So we have to accept that, while it's called "Ghost Story," it's not really about Harry being dead. Death, as it is in the comics Butcher loves, is barely more than a plot point. Like all the Dresden novels, this book is about how Harry reacts to what's thrust before him, and how he figures out the best way to punch it in the balls.

    Well, perhaps "best way" isn't the best way to put Harry's solutions.

    And right away, Butcher starts laying out the clues to tell the reader, "yeah, this shit won't last, brah."

    This book did make me wonder whether a couple of characters are going to be phased out. Or already have been.

  2. Yea the fact that he won't stay dead wasn't really a shock. I can't imagine anyone that follows the series thinking it would be otherwise I guess my spoiler free review had a spoiler this time. I went into this curious about where the death journey would take him in the ongoing story.

    What characters do you think might be phased out?

    Personally, though I enjoy the dorky references in these books, I thought he laid them on a bit thick this time.

  3. Dresden doing something as stupid as taking Molly who's been proven to be too "sensitive" for proper combat into the battle against the Red Court was a problem for me in the last book. The consequences in this one are heart-breaking. Molly was already under the Damocles of Doom. Now she's going to be hunted by the Wardens. It was really disheartening to me.

    And you're right about Murphy. But she lost one of her best friends as well as the best protector Chicago has against supernatural threats. Then she think's he's back but that only confirms that he's dead. Plus the only other person who can help, which is Molly, is both guilty of something that Murphy is not sure of and is slipping into madness.

    It's just a bad situation all around.