Narrator: James Marsters
Published by Roc Hardcover on July 26th 2011
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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The eagerly awaited new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files series. When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn't doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin. But being dead doesn't stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has nobody, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own. To save his friends-and his own soul-Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic... Watch a Video
There will be some spoilers here, for this book and the previous book, Changes. They really go together as a set, it’s difficult to talk about one without talking about the other.
This one wasn’t quite as good for me as the last one, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.I think after Changes, anything would have been a bit of a letdown. Changes was just so good.
At the end of Changes, Harry has lost his home, his cat, his car, his daughter, and possibly his life. He’s killed Susan Rodriguez, wiped out the entire Red Court, and discovered that his old mentor Ebenezer is actually his grandfather. Literally every single thing about Harry is in a different place by the end of that book than it was in the beginning. I didn’t know where Jim Butcher was going to go with a lot of this, especially Harry’s own murder, but I didn’t really expect him to go this way.
This book picks up right where and when Changes ended, at least we think it did. After being shot on the Water Beetle, Harry is sent to an “in between” place where he’s told by Karrin Murphy’s father that he’s being sent back to solve his own murder. He’s going back as a shade because his body isn’t available. He gets dropped off at Mortimer Lindquist’s home, only to discover that in the few hours he’s been gone, six months have passed for his friends. Word has gone out in the supernatural world that Chicago is now unprotected, and the monsters have come to play. Harry’s friends are doing their best, but there are just too many bad guys. Karrin, Father Forthill, and Butters are doing everything they can to keep Chicago from turning into a cesspool, but Molly, who could have been their best weapon, has gone into a deep, self-destructive depression for reasons we’re not aware of, and they’re not able to stem the tide. Once Harry sees this, he puts aside his own quest to find his murderer and tries to help them. As a ghost, Harry can’t do magic, though, so there isn’t much he can do. And, obviously, most of his friends are hesitant to believe that he’s really his own ghost. First because they’ve seen too many supernatural beings take the shapes of other humans. And second, because believing that this is Harry’s ghost means accepting that he’s really dead. They’ve managed to not quite do that yet since his body hasn’t been found. They still have a little hope.
I expected this one to be a bit of a letdown after Changes. And I’m never too disappointed by being right. I liked seeing Harry have to figure out how to solve this case and fight for his friends without using magic. I liked seeing his friends have to step up and go from secondary character status to primary character status because they couldn’t rely on Harry’s magic. And they weren’t sure they could trust Harry. There was a lot of internal ruminating in this one, which slowed down the action. There was a long description of the first time Harry encountered He Who Walks Behind. I could have done with a little less of that piece of it, especially when Harry had so much to do, and we were so eager to solve the mystery of his death. But, I do get it. As a shade, Harry couldn’t go out in the sunlight, so he had a lot of downtime. And he couldn’t use magic, so he had more waiting around to do than he usually does on a case. And since the books are all first person, we couldn’t just head on over to see what the other group was doing.
As for the narration: This is the first time I’ve listened to this book. I’ve been listening to the entire series, but, no offense to Jim Glover, it just wasn’t the same without James Marsters. I listened to the sample on Audible before deciding, and Jim Glover was just not Harry Dresden to me. This is the thirteenth book. I couldn’t make the mental switch after so long. Jim Butcher and James Marsters have both said they couldn’t get their schedules to sync up so that James could do this one, and Jim and the publishers didn’t want to wait to get the audio out because so many people listen to these books, so they made the decision to use a different narrator. I get it. So I read the hardback of this one the first time through. But a few months ago, James went into the studio and recorded this one and the Jim Glover edition was retired. The narration by James Marsters was, as always, fantastic. James Marsters as Harry Dresden is one of my favorite listening experiences, and this was no different.