A shift in style to a somewhat more serious novel.
Dec 26, 2009
In my earlier reviews of the first two novels in Jim Butcher's Dresden file series, "Storm Front" and "Fool Moon", I described Harry Dresden as a hapless, down on his luck wizard, in fact the only licensed wizard in the Chicago phone book. Business isn't exactly brisk so from time to time he acts as a consultant with the Chicago Police Department when the cases drift out of the mundane and into the realm of the paranormal.
I went on to suggest that they were both enjoyable novels that almost defied genre classification. Harry Dresden assumed the role of the angst-ridden, hard-boiled detective with the self-sufficient, anti-authority attitude reminiscent of a John Corey or Harry Bosch. He was also portrayed as a bit of a laughable bumbler - fantasy, blended with comedy, the paranormal, cozy mystery and thriller. The key, in my opinion, was that the books didn't take themselves too seriously and, as long as the readers didn't either, easy-going enjoyment of the story was a slam dunk!
"Grave Peril" represents a fundamental shift in the character of the series and has changed flavour entirely.
The difference is that "Grave Peril" definitely takes itself seriously and, while the comedy is still there and is just as funny and just as enjoyable, the emphasis is now on the horror, the monsters, the plot and the underlying mythology. The mystery is now a long way from "cozy"!
Harry and his good friend, Michael, a Knight of the Sword, do battle with a series of evils - demons released through a weakened wall between us and the hereafter; a veritable army of over-heated, over-sexed, vicious and very hungry vampires; a not so nice fairy godmother who lusts after Harry's soul and seeks to seal the bargain that Harry made trading her that soul when he was a young boy; turbulent, angry ghosts seeking revenge against those who caused their deaths; and an evil being called "Nightmare" that attacks you as you dream and consumes your soul by eating you from the inside out!
From a plot point of view, the story focuses on Harry's attempts to discover the cause for this rift in the wall between the two worlds. On the character front, we witness the developing relationships with his lover, Sue Rodriguez, his police colleague, Karrin Murphy, and his dear friend, Michael.
For those that enjoy the paranormal and the world of vampires, ghosts, witches, wizardry and spells, "Grave Peril" will be a wonderful ride through a dark and eerie place with plentiful interludes of comedic relief.
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