Monday, March 25, 2013

The Dresden Files: Grave Peril, a Review

Folks say that The Dresden Files really picks up steam with the third book.  Heck, even Jim Butcher himself said that at the beginning of the audio version of the thing.  Grave Peril, as it turns out, does indeed amplify the series, throwing the Reader into an even wider world than previously imagined.

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only practicing wizard, has survived some hairy situations.  Storm Front had a power-hungry psycho using storms to murder people.  Fool Moon introduced a gang of werewolves and an ancient curse.  In addition to the supernatural disturbances, Dresden is forced to work around the vampires of the city, the mafia, the police, deranged faeries, and many other affiliates.

Grave Peril introduces a brand new character into the mix.  Michael is a Knight of the Cross, one of three legendary knights that wield swords forged with a nail from the Cross of Jesus.  Michael—happily married, loving father—is helping Harry—happily dating, pet-owner—clean up the spiritual world of Chicago.  Ghosts are going berserk and attacking.  And after a mysterious girl claiming to have visions of the future turns up in Harry’s office, things get interesting.

Part of the intrigue of Grave Peril is the opening up of Dresden’s world.  The Reader finally gets a glimpse of the Nevernever.  More about Harry’s background is revealed.  More magics and wonders crop up.  The world that Jim Butcher has crafted is deep and wide, and where he’s going with the story is still undecided.  If the girl’s visions of the future have anything to say on the matter, the remainder of the series could be most interesting.

Another large difference between this book and the previous two is the formulaic is (relatively) tossed aside.  Detective Murphy doesn’t come to Harry with a crime for him to solve.  No, Harry mostly takes it upon himself to dive deeper into the spiritual chaos.  This subtle change of motive offers a more rewarding experience.

Butcher’s writing continues to be smart.  Humor comes natural and there were times when I cackled like a loon.  Butcher is also adept at being serious when the need arises, making Dresden a rich character to explore, as well as the other characters in the novel.  No one seems to be flat.  As for pacing, the book starts out in medias res and doesn’t let up.

The first time I read Fool Moon I shrugged my shoulders and thought it was okay.  The second time had me more interested in Harry, and I immediately picked up Grave PerilGrave Peril is an exciting and entertaining novel that absolutely pushes The Dresden Files up a notch or two.  I have no doubt in my mind that I will be reading more books in this series, if only for the chance to explore the world Butcher’s created.  I easily recommend reading this book.