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Ghost Story

Review by: 
Jim Butcher
Publication Date: 
Bottom Line: 

Fans of the Dresden Files are familiar with Chicago’s resident detective wizard, Harry Dresden.  Poor Harry has fought vampire clans, faeries, demons, werewolves, and more. This time, he’s gone and gotten himself killed.

The aptly titled Ghost Story, the 13th book in the Dresden Files, starts where Changes left off. Everyone’s favorite wizard is dead. He becomes conscious in a form of purgatory, beginning with the proverbial light in the tunnel and the sound of the train. He is approached by an old friend, Carmichael, who died years before. Dresden is ushered to a police station in the ghostly echo of Chicago, where he is told that he must go back…

…and solve his own murder.

Things have deteriorated in the six months since Dresden’s death. His annihilation of the Red Court vampires has created a void, and every supernatural force on earth is jockeying for that business. Through a very interesting channel, Dresden contacts his old colleagues. They’re all reeling from the constant battles; some faring far worse than others.

Murphy, Dresden’s police contact and long term friend, is holding them all together, almost all of them. The Alphas are backing her up. Daniel Carpenter, son of sword-wielding Michael, is among her allies. Even “Gentleman” John Marcone has apparently thrown resources in to keeping his Chicago business safe, and that means a tentative partnership with Murphy. The worst for wear is Dresden’s apprentice, Molly, who has become distant, troubled, and murderous.

Dresden must figure out who killed him, while trying to protect Murphy, save Molly, and learn what a person can, and can’t do, as a ghost. Old allies and enemies make appearances, and some new faces are introduced. In the end, Dresden’s journey to the end takes many turns, and his destination is one decided by choices…not all are his.

Author Jim Butcher delivers once again, making Harry’s adventure a mix of incredible danger and laughable pop culture. His writing is peppered with pop culture references, and he includes plenty of tongue –in-cheek laughs for his long term readers. He proves yet again that the forces he set in motion in Dresden’s initial appearance (2002’s Storm Front) are meant to play a part in a much larger story. 

Changes was an all-out battle royale, with a war that changed the realms of humanity and supernatural alike. It would be easy to drop off after such a climactic story, but Butcher doesn’t. He merely takes the journey a different direction, challenging Dresden with a set of circumstances he couldn’t fathom. Ghost Story provides a great next step in Dresden’s story. 

Fans of the Dresden Files will enjoy Ghost Story. Those new to the series may be a little overwhelmed with the sheer number of characters and back story told. I would recommend this to those familiar with the novels. For those who are new to the series, start with Storm Front and enjoy the journey. 

Ghost Story is followed by 2012’s Cold Days, the 14th installment in the Dresden Files

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