Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

April 25, 2014 3.5 stars, Audio Book, Book Review 28 ★★★½

Review: Ghost Story by Jim ButcherGhost Story by Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #13
Published by Penguin Audio, Roc on July 26, 2011
Genres: Adult SFF, Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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My Reviews in this series: Storm Front, Jim Butcher's Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin, Skin Game

The eagerly awaited new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files series.

When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn't doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn't stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has nobody, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends-and his own soul-Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic...

three-half-stars

Someone’s out of their weight class
We open up in Ghost Story with Harry being in shall we say not quite the after life, ok let’s call it limbo instead. He’s told he must go back to Chicago as a ghost to find out who killed him otherwise 3 people close to him will be seriously hurt. Of course he goes back, who wouldn’t go back if they were told that? Unfortunately for him, he’s used to being a heavy weight and now he literally has no weight to throw around. It’s like watching a guppie get thrown in with a pack of piranhas. Entertaining as it may have been to watch Harry be powerless for once I think this effected some of the mojo in the book.

Because he is powerless we get to see other characters step up to the plate that normally Harry would have dominated. This was quite a refreshing change and I loved seeing how these characters handled things. It was especially nice having Harry stop and think about things. After all what more could he do other than mull over his circumstances, the people from his life and his own past actions. Indeed, Harry undergoes a lot of personally eye opening moments, given that he’s finally stopping to think about things instead of rushing headlong into the fray. He’s able to reflect and catch details about his past that he never noticed before and he sees just how much he has effected the lives of the people he cares about.

Bedazzle you with the Smoke and Mirrors
Any magician worth his salt knows about misdirection but only an effective one can put it to you the way Jim Butcher can. It’s likely why I’ve always returned to his books again and again because I can always expect to be strung along by my nose, not being able to guess at where we might be going next. Ghost Story delivers that here with a punch. I’m tootling along thinking in one direction and then I’m thrown for a loop with an altogether different kind of revelation. I was a bit peeved towards the end with a few things that felt tacked on like ‘afterthoughts’ but that might just be me personally and who knows others might think its totally normal for them to have been included. I can see why they would have been given the circumstances but I couldn’t help feeling the way I did.

I can see right through you!
So sometimes Harry never ceases to gobsmack me with how daft he can be in certain areas. Of course that particular trait is also part of what I find so appealing about him. He SEES things, or just knows them about people, but by golly there is so much he really doesn’t know – or just doesn’t get. In a way I kind of compare him to my husband that way, it’s endearing how his clueless tendencies can make me both want to throttle him and hug him. Yeah, so what that’s my oddball contradictive fangirl moment.

But oh, Ghost Story after that cliffhanger of an ending in Changes I had expected all sorts of crazy fireworks and hell raising that I didn’t quite get. There was just so Muchy-Muchness to Changes that in a way I felt a little let down by the action level in Ghost Story. Ultimately, it was still a vastly enjoyable read even though it didn’t grab me as much as the preceding novels. Another great addition to the Dresden Files.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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28 Responses to “Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher”

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I am halfway thru the audio of Cold Days….Loving it! So glad to have James Marsters he is so fabulous and maybe that is why I didnt care for Ghost Story that much, but who knows. Seriously Shecky said that Butcher had intended this as a “internal trilogy” and if that really was the case then this one suffered from my dreaded middle book syndrome. Kind of like middle child lol
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  1. Melliane

    Really? 13 books? Ok I’m really impressed, I was sure we had only like 5-7 books in this series… They released them in French a while back but it didn’t word so they stopped. But I tried book 1 at this period and I was quite disappointed so I never continued. Maybe I should one day.

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I have noticed that while I really love urban fantasy I tend to gravitate towards the female authors in the genre. This series is honestly the only one I can think of off the top of my head that I have continued to like that is written by a guy. But when it comes to normal sci fi or traditional fantasy I like them both equally. Personally I love this series and it is one of my favorites so it makes me wonder what about that first book didn’t work for you?
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: In the Shadows by Kiersten White & Jim Di BartoloMy Profile

      • Melliane

        There are some great men authors, like E.S Moore. And I have some UF books by men too but haven’t read them yet. But you’re right it’s usually women in this genre. I read book 1 years ago so I don’t really remember but some told me it was only the first books that weren’t that great.

        • Tabitha (Pabkins)

          E.S. Moore is in urban fantasy? I’ll go check him out now – thanks!

          Yes I think these definitely get better as they progress but I tend to think that of a handful of series. These have been going for so many years now that I’m sure the writing style has improved but I did listen to the first book over again recently and still loved it (but maybe I’m biased)
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  2. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I never made it this far in the series, I think I stopped at book 3 – not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I had too many other things I had to read. I can see how this would be slightly underwhelming, though, what with the action level down and Harry powerless to boot. But to have such a strong series after 13 installments is no small feat.
    Great review!

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Hgck yes! I personally love this series but I do know a bunch of people that say they stopped after a certain number of them. I wonder why that is. I also really wonder if or when the author ever plans on finishing the series cause it really has been going a long time. I am already listening to the next book and it is so much better than this one. Things are back in full swing and I am gobbling it up!
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: In the Shadows by Kiersten White & Jim Di BartoloMy Profile

  3. Shecky

    Something that may be of interest is that Jim intended Changes, Ghost Story and Cold Days to be an “internal trilogy” with its own self-contained arc within the larger story: destruction of Harry Dresden’s life (big and boomy stuff), destruction of Harry himself (subtle and internal stuff), and then his new reality. It’s part of the clearing-away of the old to make way for the new, next-level life for Harry. He’s *always* going to have some blind spots, even if they move around over time, but his particular character growth pretty much depends on that shift.

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I freaking love Cold Days already! I am about halfway thru and listening on audio and I think but didn’t realize at the time that perhaps the narrator of Ghost Story might have hampered my enjoyment some. This time I am doing great. I can totally see what you mean about it being an internal trilogy. It is totally working for me now. Which means Ghost Story suffered from the middle book syndrome for me, which I find is rather common with trilogies I read.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: In the Shadows by Kiersten White & Jim Di BartoloMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yes the frequent narrator of this series is great. His name is James Marsters (however he did not narrate this particular one because of a schedule conflict and I think that is why I enjoyed it less) its a long freaking series and while I love it and I have a total fangirl crush on Harry Dresden (i wanted to name my son after him) i am also wondering when will we see the end?
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: In the Shadows by Kiersten White & Jim Di BartoloMy Profile

  4. Charleen

    This is one of those series I’ve been wanting to get to for a while. Something about the idea of an urban fanasy from a male POV is extremely appealing, after almost all urban fantasy I’ve ever read convincing me that it’s not the genre for me, despite how much I want to like it.
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  5. fishgirl182

    I actually stopped reading this series about book 3. It’s not that I did not like it but Harry was always such a martyr and it was a little dreary. Glad to know that people are still enjoying it though.
    fishgirl182 recently posted…Uncovered (105): JackabyMy Profile

      • fishgirl182

        Maybe dreary isn’t the right word. Harry just always seems to martyred and woe is me, I have to save the world again. I guess I just wanted a bit of levity or joy in his life but it’s always one crisis after another. I don’t know exactly what it was that eventually turned me off but I made it through 3 books. I can understand why people like it though.

        Some series that I like are Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series (OMG best thing ever!). I really like the Asylum Tales series by Jocelynn Drake. It actually reminds me of Harry Dresden a little but I like it more. The reckoning by SJ Harper is fun. It’s not mind blowing but it’s fun and I definitely want to see where it goes. Those are the ones I can think of right now. There are a bunch of series that I need to start though. So many books, so little time.
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        • Tabitha (Pabkins)

          Hey you are right he does play the martyr quite a bit and yes there is a lot of non stop action (I love action and crisis though) It would be neat to see a smidge more downtime to interact with other characters more.

          I have the first Kate Daniels. I don’t know if I have Jocelyn Drake but I’ll be sure to pick one up. I haven’t even heard of SJ Harper so I’ll add that to my to buy list too. muuwhahaha
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          • Melliane

            Yes he is, with his Kat Redding series. It’s a nice one.

            And maybe I need to try more of them to!

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Thanks for saying so Joy! Some of my reviews are definitely better than others I write lol. I find the 3 star reviews to be the hardest to write since they are just ‘”ok” so I struggle to find things to say.

      Urban fantasy is one of my favorite genres but definitely not for everyone. Is your fav contemporary? I have noticed a bunch of contemporary on your blog.
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