Ghost Story by Jim Butcher is the 13th (or 14th depending on how you count Side Jobs) book in The Dresden Files series. If you haven’t been reading these books you really should. They’re a blast. If you haven’t read this particular volume and you’ve read the rest, then go pick it up right away, read it. It’s very, very good. In the rest of the review, I’ll be talking about things that could be spoilers, so, read the book and then come back (unless such things don’t bother you.)
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At the end of Changes Harry gets shot. Things don’t look so good, but we don’t know for sure. At the beginning of Ghost Story our doubts are removed as Harry wakes up and finds himself a spirit. The title’s kind of a giveaway, so that part shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
Harry is met by one of Murphy’s old partner–Carmichael and taken to meet his boss. Harry is told that he needs to solve his own murder in order to prevent three of his friends from being hurt.
Harry (being Harry even though dead) elects to help and chooses to be delivered to the house of Mortimer Lindquist (Mort), ectomancer.
From here on, the story has an overall feeling of a Dresden story, but there are a few interesting differences. Harry is dead and that means that he is quite limited in how he can interact with the mortal world and mortals. He can talk to Mort and other spirits. He can’t directly effect change in the mortal world. This (and being dead) give Harry some cause to think about his actions as he proceeds through the book rather than just blowing holes in things as is sometimes his wont. Being introspective is good for character growth in Harry’s case. It will be interesting how this plays out in future volumes.
Speaking of future volumes, one of the things I was very interested in as the book progressed was how (or if) Harry might re-enter the mortal world. Being a ghost is pretty interesting for a single volume but would seem to cause some problems in an extended series. I could picture a few ways in which this could happen and there are some hints along the way.
I admit to getting teary eyed at Harry’s reunions with Mouse, Mister and Molly. Butcher did a really good job with these. Molly has certainly gone through the wringer and the effects of that will also be interesting.
As ghosts are essentially memories, we spend some time in Harry’s memories. Specifically, we get to see his encounter with “He Who Walks Behind.” This is a good series of scenes and some of it is surprising to Harry (he had blanked it out) so we definitely get some new info. It seems that Walker may not have just been sent out by Harry’s old tutor to kill him. Walker may have been doing some organizing of his own.
The ending of the book was quite satisfying for me. It sets up the action for the next book and gives a few surprises. Very well done, Jim Butcher.