Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

  “People adore monsters. They fill their songs and stories with them. They define themselves in relation to them. Do you know what a monster is? Power. Power and choice. Monsters make choices. Monsters shape the world. Monsters force us to become stronger, smarter, better. They sift the weak from the strong and provide a forge for the steeling of souls. Even as we curse monsters, we admire them. Seek to become them, in some ways. There are far, far worse things to be than a monster.”

Harry Dresden. A sarcastic, witty, cynical and generous wizard that lives in the shadows of Chicago trying to do good, help people and stay alive. He barely wins his fights, gets his ass kicked regularly and often, isn’t quite sure what is going on. The fact that he is full of star wars references and other geekified jokes is just icing on the cake to those that have followed along throughout this entire series. And what a series it has been.

At the end of Dresden’s last adventure, Changes (the 12th book), Harry Dresden was killed. May I say, it was to my horror and delight. Seeing as I had stuck with him through 11 books, I was appalled-thrilled that something so outrageous could happen to him. Especially when he was finally going to be in Karrin’s life the way we had all hoped for, well, the last 11 books. Mr. Butcher, I love your writing, but 11 books? That’s a hell of a long wait. Then to just go and off the guy seconds before we see that relationship resolved, well that was downright cruel. And awesome.

Now, to give those new to Harry’s adventures and misadventures a little background. In the last book Harry’s daughter was endangered and his former love Susan (who is his child’s mother) was becoming a vampire for the Red Court. Battles, death, destruction, fights, fireworks, sarcasm, witty repertoire, this book had it all. Then it went and blew your mind. Harry took out the entire red court by murdering his wife and sending that ultra destructive (and freakin’ fantastic) spell back on those who would have used it to wipe out his whole family. Instead, he wiped out the entire Red Court of Vampires. At the time, I’m pretty sure everyone reading the book was dancing around in little circles of joy while making fist pumps of victory in the air. Go Dresden!

Of course then we had to wait a year for the next book, which entitled ‘Ghost Story’ just instilled further excitement and despair about Dresden’s future. In my mind it went like this (in a panicky shaky voice): If hes a ghost, then he is really dead. If he is really dead, is this the end of the series? Well I can’t answer that question for you (I wouldn’t dare ruin the ending!) but I’ll tell you a little about Ghost Story.

As this story opens, Dresden is a ghost in limbo. He is told that he has two choices: 1.) to move on to heaven or hell or wherever 2.) to go back as a ghost and find his killer. He is told that if he doesn’t go back, three of his friends will be hurt. Dresden being Dresden, goes back. (Obviously…we wouldn’t have a book otherwise.) The Chicago that Dresden goes back to has changed in his absence. Although it felt like minutes, 6 months has passed. Chicago is in darkness. The death of the entire Red Court has left a power vacuum that all kinds of evil supernatural beasties are trying to fill. His best friend/unresolved love interest Karrin is scarred, hardened, paranoid and crippled with sadness. His apprentice, Molly has become a dark terror on the streets, living in filth and death. What is left of his friends has formed an alliance to help Chicago not be devoured by the numerous forces of evil that are trying their best to destroy it. Dresden floats his ghost self into their lives just in time to help resolve the current threat and maybe, possibly, help his friends find some peace with the fact that he is dead.

Experiencing Dresden as a ghost has its charms. He is more of an observer and he experiences all new challenges because he is part of the spirit world. He also tends to look back on a lot of the havoc he has caused in his lifetime. He can see his triumphs and his mistakes. As a result, we learn more about him as a person. We see past events from other books (and their consequences) more clearly, as does he.

Unsurprisingly, Ghost Story was worth waiting for. It is a bit more serious that those which have preceded it but I believe that is to be expected since he is after all, dead. Though it is more serious; it is also funny, thrilling and touching. We experience lots of good ol’ throw down fights and brawls (as always) and we also get to see a lot of emotion in those he has left behind.

The ending is, in a word, superb. I will reveal nothing in detail, but once he is done with his adventures Dresden has to make a choice. A choice to stay in limbo or to move on to what is next. Only those who read, will know.

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