Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ghost Story

Who shot Harry Dresden?

When we last saw our hero, the only professional wizard in the Chicago phone book, he had just been shot and left for dead in the cold water of Lake Michigan. Six months later, supernatural Chicago is in bad shape, with the good guys struggling to make up for Harry’s absence and maintain a certain amount of peace in spite of the mad scramble to fill the power void left by the eradication of the Red Court of vampires. Harry finds himself on the wrong side of both life and afterlife, asked to return as a shade to solve his own murder and told that three people he loves will surely suffer if he does not. But a shade is only memory: invisible and inaudible to most people, unable to affect the physical world, and (Harry learns to his horror) unable to work magic. How can he do anything to help his friends if he can’t actually do anything?

What I really liked about the answer to that question was that Harry had to use a method he has frequently been able to get away with ignoring: he has to think. He is, after all, a detective, even if his favorite way of getting answers has always been to blow stuff up until someone starts talking. And because a shade is only the sum of its memories, we get to see Harry remember events that have previously only been alluded to. I read this book in one fell swoop the afternoon it came in the mail, and really enjoyed this glimpse of a more reflective Harry Dresden. I have some concerns about the implications of the ending, but I’m quite interested to see where Jim Butcher takes the series next.

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