Grave Peril by Jim Butcher, No.3 of the Dresden Files

Just finished reading Grave Peril by Jim Butcher.  This is Butcher’s third in the series of the Dresden Files and for me was a definite improvement.  The first two books are Storm Front and Fool Moon.  I liked the first two but wasn’t as ‘wowed’ as I would like to or thought I would be.  Well, that feeling was more so probably with No.2.  But, I figured this is a series I could get in too so I continued.   If you’re planning on reading this series then be warned that the rest of the review may contain spoilers.

Grave Peril gets off to an immediate and spooky start.  Ghosts are running riot and terrorising the Town and Dresden his battling against the odds to discover what’s going on and why the world of ghosts is in such an uproar.  (I must confess that reading the start of this I couldn’t help picturing the Ghostbusters and the scene with the ghost librarian).  On top of this the vampires again enter the scene.  The Queen of the Vampires has not forgotten her grudge at Dresden and is eager to see him pay for the insult he gave her previously and perhaps an invitation to the annual vampire ball would be the perfect occasion.  On top of that there is a much more sinister entity at work, one that is stalking it’s prey carefully.  And, as if that wasn’t enough for Dresden to deal with he has to enter the world of the Nevernever where the veil between the realms is stretched thin, demons roam and his fey godmother and her hounds are baying for Dresden’s blood (or soul).

This was definitely a packed instalment.  Dresden wasn’t so much investigating anything this time round as just trying to find out why things were becoming so heated and at the same time simply trying to stay alive.  We have the usual cast.  Bob puts in an appearance as does Murphy and Susan’s relationship with Dresden seems to be going fairly strongly.  On top of that we are introduced to a number of characters from the White Court of Vampires and to top it all off a dragon makes an appearance at the Ball.  And, Dresden is lent a helping hand by Michael, a knight templar who helps Harry to defeat the baddies using his blazing sword.

Lots of the characters come under threat in this episode.  And nobody is going to escape completely unscathed.

What I like about this series is Harry.  He’s a readable character.  He likes to pretend he’s tough but really he’s a raging softie.  He’s developing much more as each book goes by as we find out more about his character and his history and in the same way his magic seems to be growing.  In fact the whole world that Harry inhabits is developing.  It’s almost like that the author was giving us a slow introduction to this strange and fantastical world – like if you had to read about all these strange creatures from the get go you just wouldn’t accept it.  It’s the frog soup recipe.  Basically we’re being slowly brought to the boil so we don’t have the sense to jump out of the pot.  I’m quite nice and cosy now so I’m staying where I am – just waiting for the carrots and herbs to be added!

I also like the dark and sinister world that is created here.  We’ve been for a visit round Nevernever now and it’s not particularly friendly. You certainly wouldn’t want to stick around or start asking for directions.  Fey and demons and probably more sinister creatures inhabit this world beyond the veil and for me it was good reading.  The sort of make believe fantasy world where anything can happen and I like that I can’t always predict it.

In terms of criticisms.  I wouldn’t say everything was quite rosy with me with this series just yet!  I’ve already made reference to the way that a formula is being followed and to be honest I would say that is still the case here, although as mentioned above this installment isn’t your typical investigative story so that’s something of a step change.  But, as in previous novels, Harry does get terribly beaten up, then beaten up some more and, yes, then beaten up again before finally having his lightbulb moment.  I know that these style of books usually do operate to a formula but I would prefer it to be mixed up a bit more.  I also wasn’t really that keen on the character of Michael – again, given the number of adversaries in this novel I think Harry needed all the help he could get – and yet somehow I couldn’t quite get along with him for some reason and it felt as though the whole ‘tone’ of Harry was diluted in some way due to the addition.  Also, that brings me to the final point which is that I did have a couple of ‘uugh’ moments.  For example, with the character Michael – he just appeared in the novel as though we knew who he was – I almost thought I was reading the wrong book in the series or had skipped ahead at first, and I actually have done that before!  I mean the book just started and it was all ‘Michael this, that and the other’ and I was thinking who is this Michael – same with the evil fey godmother – where did she suddenly pop up from without any explanation.  I don’t mind not having an explanation and I’m fairly sure even with my limited grey cells I can pick up what’s going on however it jars a little bit with the continuous repetitious explanations that you get in each novel about other aspects.  I expect there to be repeat explanations because the author wants people to be able to read the novel as a strand alone but I just don’t get why these new characters came so unintroduced. Although, now I’ve made that point I’m starting to disagree with myself so I’ll just move on…

Now in spite of the above.  I enjoyed this.  There’s plenty of action and the author doesn’t shirk away from getting a bit dark and gritty.  I feel like there’s going to be plenty more to this series and I like the fact that I’ve got so much yet to look forward to.

If you want a dark urban fantasy with all sorts of paranormal activity and a slightly unconventional won’t stick to the book magician then you’ve got plenty here to look forward.

This novel is one of my R.I.P reads for the book event taking place at Stainless Steel Droppings.  Drop in here and take a look.  There’s plenty of activity and loads of bloggers taking part so it’s never too late to join.



12 Responses to “Grave Peril by Jim Butcher, No.3 of the Dresden Files”

  1. Michael

    The first three or four books all keep getting better and better. I still think this is the best fantasy series being published right now.

    • lynnsbooks

      Hi Michael
      I’ve heard something similar before about the series gets better. I like the series and so will definitely continue – I think sometimes the earlier books are not always the best and you have to give it more time. I thought No.3 was very good though.
      Lynn 😀

  2. nrlymrtl

    Nice writeup. I really enjoyed this series and I am looking forward to the next one coming out in November. I love how each one builds upon the next, how the characters grow (flaws and all), and how each book becomes less and less formulaic. I hope you enjoy the series as much as I do as you press on.

    • lynnsbooks

      I’m definitely going to continue. I like Harry, he does have his faults, but I still like him. And, I think Butcher has created a really interesting world for Harry to run around in. Plus I don’t see how this series could continue so long and have such a great following if it didn’t have a lot of redeeming features!
      Lynn 😀

  3. Grant

    I’m super jealous. I can’t imagine what it must be like to discover the series and be reading through it (as I’ve already read what’s available).

    You know, if you like this series, check out his other series, the Furies of Calderon (or whatever the series is called), because it’s amazing. I think I fell in love with those more than the Dresden Files.

    • lynnsbooks

      Hi Grant
      I will look into Jim Butcher’s other books so thanks for the recommendation.
      Are you reading anything good at the moment?
      Lynn 😀

      • Grant

        Yeah. I joined a book group, and the first book we’re reading is “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” by Haruki Murakami.

        It’s interesting, and it’s also REALLY bizarre.

      • lynnsbooks

        Are you going to review it when you’ve finished? Would be interested in knowing if you recommend or not. I actually haven’t read any Murakami – which I’m sure is very bad 😦 and I think I actually have a book on my shelves!
        Lynn 😀

  4. Rachel

    I’ve been planning on starting this series for a while…I never get around to it. But it looks so good!

    • lynnsbooks

      And apparently it gets better and better – and the good news is there are plenty more available to read with no long waits in between!
      Lynn 😀

  5. Carol

    I read the first six or so in this series and really enjoyed them, even talked my husband into reading a few. I haven’t read more though. To be honest, when a series goes so long I tend to get bored with the characters, no matter how good the books are.

    • lynnsbooks

      I’m definitely going to continue with these for now. I do love urban fantasy and I think Harry is pretty cool. I’ve been reading a few series now where I’ve got up to like No.12 and I have to admit that I’m ready for those to conclude!
      Lynn 😀

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