Top critical review
What A Colossal Mess
Reviewed in the United States on September 3, 2019
When we last left gumshoe wizard Harry Dresden in the 12th installment, he'd been shot. GHOST STORY, the 13th installment of the highly-acclaimed Dresden Files series, picks up the story following the shooting.
Harry's dead. Now he's a member of the Afterlife, and with this volume we learn the supernatural has more layers and complications than the EPA Manual. Ghosts. Shades. Wraiths. Lemurs. Hoods. Ectomancers. Harry has encounters with them all while he fights the clock to find his real killer, and--perhaps--earn a chance at mortality again. (Wow, like that's a surprise.) He's being a ghost while learning on-the-job, discovering he has lost his magic. . .only to find out he can recover his powers via memories. . .yet he can only use it against supernatural beings--not humans. The installment is a build-up to the big fight against a villain we've encountered in a previous volume; the battle is a confusing and befuddling mix of who's-doing-what to whom. And suddenly, we come across an almost forgettable scene when Harry remembers who his killer really is. . .and it rings as hollow as my sugar jar.
We do get to meet a few characters from the series, and two of them--Molly, Harry's apprentice; and Murphy, the former Chicago PD officer--have been an absolute mess since Harry's demise. Harry also saves another previous character, Mortimer, who has only briefly appeared in another volume, for reasons we're never made to understand. The book does attempt to redeem itself in the end, when Harry is allowed to look in on his brother, Thomas, and Justine, the love of Thomas' life, but the poignant scene is not enough to salvage this hackneyed train wreck. And of course we have the Winter Fairie Queen Mab swoop in during the final pages to pull Death from Harry's soul and restore his mortality so that living Harry can go on as her Winter Knight. Talk about power. I've loved these books since the beginning, but I hope author Jim Butcher can get his groove back on. With the absolute mess GHOST STORY is, I'll be reaching for the next volume with 100% trepidation.
~D. Mikels, Esq.