I didn’t finish this book, but I’m counting it toward my 75 books because I read more than half of it and gave it my best effort. In the end I just couldn’t get invested in it. I read the first two books and enjoyed them, but with this one there was something different. It might have been me, I’ve been stressed while job-hunting for the past few weeks, but there were some things that irked me. I’ll get to those in a minute, but first, cue summary.
Harry Dresden, token wizard of Chicago, has faced a great many supernatural denizens, overcome innumerable odds, and still miraculously lived to see the present day. But now the spirit world has fallen out of whack and ghosts are popping up all over the city with startling regularity. But they aren’t doing it alone; the ghosts are being tortured and tormented, forced to push through into our world and wreck havoc, and the victims that begin to pile up are all connected to Dresden. Pushing himself to the limits of his strength, Dresden has to find out who is torturing the undead and sending them his way before one of them comes for him.
Things that irked me – a list that’s too long to be discussed in full, but I’ll try and discuss only those things that pertain to the book at hand. Though I remember enjoying the previous two books a great deal (I even wrote them both reviews that were rather high in praise), this book has very little of that same charm. The main character, a determined, chivalrous, and exhausted man who goes days without sleep so long as he is able to catch the baddies in the end, was irritating, self-righteous, and over-the-top in so many ways. The author also likes to make most of the female characters sexy and alluring, giving Dresden a lot of time to admire their legs and chest. Even the ones who want to kill him get their time of being admired by the hero.
All of this isn’t usually enough to deter me from a good story, but there was one character in particular that I couldn’t stand, mostly because I couldn’t figure out why she was included or how she affected the storyline at all. Sometimes this can be attributed to reader error or ignorance, but I don’t believe that is the case. Now, for anyone who has read any of The Dresden Files you know that Harry Dresden goes through most of the books facing one near death experience after another before finally collapsing in the end with the smell of victory in his nostrils. But Dresden’s demon witch god-mother jumps into the story at almost random times to either rescue him from grave peril or try and drag him away to hell, whichever fits the author’s whim. The only reason I could think of for having her in the story at all was to make things harder for Dresden and his friends or to pull him out of deaths grasp because there was no other way for him to survive. Whenever she came on scene, the story felt cheated.
Let’s be honest, I’m not usually this critical. I can find fault with plenty of books, but usually I try to stay positive to provide potential options for people looking for a good book to read. The thing is, every series can have a book that falls a bit short. Everyone has a favorite and least favorite book in a series and this just happens to be mine. I still like the author’s overall style, his well-used and relatively subtle fourth wall breaks, and the general idea of the alternate Earth he has created as the vessel for his stories. Usually The Dresden Files is a good, simple, fantasy series that can carry you through on a constant flow of Dresden’s adrenaline pounding adventures, but just keep in mind that not all books are created equal.