I’m going to build up to my review of the most recent release in the Dresden Files: Ghost Story. We’re starting with:
Proven Guilty (Book 8 )
Allow me to preface with a brief word about the whole series: I frakking love it. I don’t just read these books, I devour them. Butcher has an amazing talent for creating and building a sense of tension and immediacy that is pitch perfect. It drives the story without frustrating the reader.
Okay, on to this book. In one word: mesmerizing. Reading Butcher is like reading about Sherlock Holmes, but in reverse. With Holmes, you’re given the answer first and then taken through the steps that were needed to arrive there. The answer is perfectly reasonable once you’re given the steps, but you wouldn’t found your way there without them. With Butcher, you watch the steps as they unfold and when the story reaches its climax it is the only climax that could have happened, usually with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. It’s nothing short of delightful.
At book 8, I think we can safely say that Butcher has had plenty of time to develop his characters. However, each book I read as I move through the series continues to add more depth, more life, more vibrance and more color to the characters. The Dresden/Murphy dynamic of this book is delightful. I’ve always been rooting for them and Butcher does a great job of exploring this relationship.
However, there is a character who totally steals the show. I can’t even tell you how awesome she is. This character is Charity. You know, Michael’s wife, Michael the Knight of the Cross who wields one of the three swords of God. (I might have gotten a little carried away there…) Anyway, Charity turns out to be a hardcore badass. There is a point in the story, when the shit’s about to hit the fan, that Charity pulls a sword (just as big as Michael’s) and armor (custom made by herself for herself) out of nowhere. She not only has armor for herself, but routinely carries enough armor to cover an entire raiding party. The best part is that she pulls all of this armor/weaponry out of plastic tubs that SHE STORES IN HER MINIVAN.
You can say a lot about supermoms, but nobody has shit on a woman who can pull a sword and armor out of her effing minivan and then proceed to use them effectively. Juggling a high powered job seems easy compared to fighting a hoard of magical beings that feed on fear.
Dresden is, of course, Dresden. He’s still the good guy who takes a beating from others as well as himself. Dresden is the kind of guy you want to fight alongside. He might not always bring out the best in people (okay, mostly monsters), but you can always count on him being on the right side of the fight. And you know he will back you up, even if it kills him.
Random aside: I don’t know why, but my mental image of Dresden is the author’s photo from the back cover, but more wizardy. (You can blame Buffy for my propensity to throw a “y” on nouns to make them adjectives) (Too many asides? Okay, I’m done. I promise.)
One final thought. In series that stay with the same character over a long stretch of time, some authors become formulaic over time. As much as I love the Sharpe series from Bernard Cornwell, this was the one complaint I had as I read through the series. Sharpe gets into trouble. Sharpe gets into more trouble. There’s no way Sharpe can get out of this trouble… and then Sharpe gets out of trouble. They never stop being interesting, but after a while it becomes a little predictable. Butcher absolutely avoids this trap. You could argue there’s a similar formula of Dresden getting into trouble and then miraculously getting out of it, but I don’t agree. Though there is always a new problem for Dresden to deal with, it’s always completely different from the one in the last book. This book is included in this. It’s not a formula. It’s an adventure and a thoroughly entertaining one at that.
I highly recommend this book and this series to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy and anyone looking to check out the genre. It’s practically a gateway drug. 5 ink bottles, of course.