Grave Peril (The Dresden Files #3)

Grave Peril Book Cover Grave Peril
The Dresden Files
Jim Butcher
September 4, 2001

Harry Dresden - Wizard
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden has faced some pretty terrifying foes during his career. Giant scorpions. Oversexed vampires. Psychotic werewolves. It comes with the territory when you're the only professional wizard in the Chicago-area phone book.

But in all Harry's years of supernatural sleuthing, he's never faced anything like this: The spirit world has gone postal. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble - and not just of the door-slamming, boo-shouting variety. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly. Someone - or something - is purposely stirring them up to wreak unearthly havoc. But why? And why do so many of the victims have ties to Harry? If Harry doesn't figure it out soon, he could wind up a ghost himself....


The spirit world is going crazy with ghosts running amok. So, who ya gonna call? Harry Dresden, Chicago’s greatest and only wizard P.I. The story kicks off a year after the previous book with Harry and his old friend Michael ghost-hunting. Despite being an old friend to Harry, Michael is a new character. So, let’s talk about him. Michael is essentially a modern-day paladin. As in the Lawful Good, sees the world in black-and-white type of person. Which is fairly different from Harry’s own chaotic way of doing things. Michael is all about doing the honorable thing, even if the honorable thing would otherwise be considered a bad move. This gives him varying levels of insufferableness throughout the story.

Then there is Harry himself. While other protagonists like Murphy and Susan are present here, they mostly take a back seat to Harry and Michael this time around. Harry’s main function is to worry about saving his own skin and then have his guilty conscious (and Michael) force him into doing the right thing. Which he continuously manages to pull off despite massive inconsistencies in what Harry can/can’t do.

The last two books established that Harry is a very powerful wizard. Wizards have a limited pool of magic before they need to get some R&R. But Harry can cast as many spells in a day as the average wizard can cast in a week. That is all well and good, in theory. In practice, Harry seems to have no limits. He constantly mentions how he is out of magic or nearly at his limit. And then he manages to use more magic through seemingly nothing but sheer willpower. It was fine the first time it happened, but after a while it feels like reading a shōnen manga.

The other weird thing was how Harry describes women. Which comes off as more a Jim Butcher thing than a Harry thing. Almost every female character who shows up gets a description of her ahem “assets”. It makes sense for Harry to do that for Susan since they are dating, but it happens with a lot more people than Susan. They have been dating for more than a year, so Harry probably is not sex starved. Maybe Jim Butcher was not having much luck with the ladies when this was written, who knows? Anyhow, the Dresden Files seems to lose a little more quality with each subsequent book. Hopefully it can bounce back a bit in the 4th installment.

March 8, 2020

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