Ghost Story is the thirteenth book in The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. I am aware that the only book in the series that I have currently reviewed is the very first (Storm Front). However, Ghost Story is such an unusual entry in the series that it really cries out to me for a review. Although I am an avowed Jim Butcher fan, I am disappointed to admit that Ghost Story is my least favorite book in the series so far.
It is fair to say that I am addicted to the epic adventures of everyone’s favorite wisecracking, pop culture referencing wizard: Harry Dresden. I have been reading like crazy to catch up with the most recent entry in the series, Skin Game, but Ghost Story derails Harry Dresden’s story and seems to be spinning its wheels without really advancing the overarching plot of the series. At this point, I am throwing up a *SPOILER ALERT* in the hopes that I will not ruin the books for anyone who is further behind in the series.
The plot revolves around Harry’s death at the end of Changes and his struggle to defend his loved ones in the wake of his unexpected termination. Harry is charged with solving his own murder and returns to Chicago as a shade to get the job done. Unfortunately, Harry’s new ghostly lifestyle means that he is deprived of his magical abilities for the majority of the novel. Some readers may disagree, but one of the reasons that I love the series is Jim Butcher’s handling of the spell casting system and the excitement of following along as Harry works his magic (pun intended). Harry is reduced to a bystander for an uncomfortable period of time and spends the first couple of hundred pages simply getting acclimated to life as a ghost.
Of course, Butcher’s writing style is still excellent and he manages to focus interesting bits of the story line around Molly Carpenter. The development of her character is fascinating and leads to some interesting truths later in the novel. Mortimer Lindquist, a character who has not been terribly significant to the novels since Grave Peril, plays a very large role in Ghost Story. Depending on a reader’s sensibilities, the decision to pin so much of the story on a relatively minor character could either be seen as a positive or a negative. Personally, I was not very interested in his development because other characters tend to overshadow him.
In the end, Ghost Story is a decent adventure that seems to be a bit of a side-step for the series. I felt like I was reading mostly to get Harry back into his body rather than for the pure enjoyment of the novel. Ghost Story is good, but a living, breathing, potent Harry Dresden is better. It is worth reading to keep up with Harry’s story, but it is a weak entry that comes on the heels of Changes which is arguably the best entry in the series up to this point. Keep your eyes peeled for my review of the next book in the series: Cold Days.