Review: ‘Grave Peril’ by Jim Butcher (audio)

Grave Peril

The Dresden Files, Book #3

Author: Jim Butcher

Format: unabridged audio book

Reader: James Marsters

Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing Corp.

Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins

Release Date: 06/10/09

(novel released September 5, 2001 by Roc & a 378 page paperback sits on my Dresden shelf)

Acquired: received as a gift

Publisher’s Summary

Harry Dresden’s 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’s 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….

My thoughts… and beware, I think about spoilers quite a lot:

Aaaaand James Marsters has fully gotten the feel of Harry and is once again giving me goosebumps with his growls and snarls and such. *shiver*

Jim Butcher gives a little intro at the beginning of this audio book and it’s kind of cool to listen to. One thing he mentions, and I’m totally paraphrasing and kind of going from memory and from my impressions of what he said, is how a lot of people have commented on how this third book in the series really steps up the pace and kicks the series into gear. Having just finished reading it, I agree. Several things are set into play in this book that aren’t realized until the latest novel, Changes and wow, did I see a lot of foreshadowing in this book.

One problem I personally have with this series is that I didn’t pick it up until the release of Turn Coat and so in both of my previous read-throughs, I’ve read the first ten books one after the other so it’s rather been like reading one long book. Because of that, I have difficulty distinguishing the events of each book and placing them on a time line. Unless I’m immersed in the series as I am now, albeit only a quarter of the way through at the moment, I can’t recall off the top of my head which book had the dinosaur or which had Harry working with Marcone in the cave, etc. That’s one reason I’m keeping track of my thoughts on the books I’m reading, so I can recall who, what, why, when, where… and how.

The point of all my blathering is, once again, that I agree with Butcher’s statement about this book. It’s like books #1 & #2 were intros, prequels… just to give us a taste of Harry’s world. Because now… now it starts.

We get to meet Michael Carpenter, Knight of the Cross and frequent cohort through much of the rest of the series, immediately as the book opens. He and Harry are in the Blue Beetle, racing toward the hospital… erm, rather, driving as quickly as possible toward the hospital… to stop a ghost from killing the babies in the nursery. Intense.

During that scene, in which we get our first glimpse of the Nevernever, we also meet another new character, Harry’s actual faerie godmother, The Leanansidhe. Or Lea for short because she’s a nickname kind of gal! She’s a member of the Winter Court of Faerie and her character is also recurring. Much of the time when we see her, she’ll be trying to make Harry into one of her hellhounds, sorry… heckhounds, and Harry generally doesn’t care for her/is terrified of her.

Harry and Michael vanquish the ghost (though not before seeing that she’s been tortured into insanity), escape the evil godmother and to top off the evening, they both get arrested. At which time we meet Michael’s very pregnant wife, Charity. Charity isn’t happy about having to bail her husband out of jail… she doesn’t much like Harry. Big surprise. Not a lot of people like Harry. Poor Harry.

A short time later, when we first meet up with Karrin Murphy, head of Chicago PD’s Special Investigations Unit, she’s irritable as usual but this time, she has a damn good reason. A colleague has literally gone insane overnight and she has called Harry in to help. To fix it. And fix it now, dammit! Again, Harry has an infinite amount of patience with Murphy in these early books. She’s so quick to expect wonders/miracles from him and equally quick to blame him for anything and everything that I just wanna smack her.

Now, let me reiterate my love of her character… I can understand that her lack of understanding  of all things magical and supernatural makes her unreasonable but it still makes me wish Harry would turn her over his knee and paddle her behind ala Mat Cauthon and Joline Aes Sedai in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Which was inspired.

Anyway, during this scene, Harry uses his second sight to see that the insane cop’s very soul is being tortured in the exact same way as the ghost that was after the babies. Upon removing the psychic barbed wire from the cop’s soul, Harry has the opportunity to see Murpy with his second sight: ‘Murphy, a guardian angel, coming through the door in a blaze of wrath.’ So. Cool. Listening to Marsters read that part gave me goosebumps!

Then the ‘Nightmare’, as Harry dubs it, goes after him in his dreams and stars and stones! It eats some of his magic. That’s not creepy. So the scene is set for another action-packed Dresden adventure. Harry’s been stripped of much of his magic yet he’s got to find and stop the Nightmare, figure out if it was summoned by the same person that’s stirring up the dead and causing so much ghost activity in the city and protect his friends because the Nightmare is after them, too. He’s also got to somehow recover Amoracchius, Michael’s magical sword… yes, there’s a magical sword. Of course there is, hello?! And Harry kind of lost it.  To his evil godmother. Oops. Last on Harry’s to-do list is to rescue the damsel in distress who asked for his help and was kidnapped by vampires of the Red Court. Easy peasy, right?

Harry and Michael attend a celebration at BiancatheRedCourtvampire’s mansion. Where we first meet ♫Thomas♪! Into the lion’s den they go and it doesn’t go well. Despite the disaster that the ball turned out to be, Harry pulls a few pretty slick tricks out of his bag near the end of the book. Bereft of much of his magic or no, he is pretty awesome. Finally, despite of… or perhaps because of the situation with Susan and the vampires, Harry is finally able, late though he may be, to admit to Susan how he feels about her. Something Michael had nagged him to do throughout the entire book. Better late than never, huh? The fact that it was too late was so very sad.

One last tidbit before I move on to the next book… is this perhaps a bit of book #13 foreshadowing from dream ghost Harry once the ‘Nightmare’ has been vanquished? “That’s the only bad thing about this gig as a ghost. Once you accomplish whatever it was that caused you to get created, you’re done.”

Fave quotes:

“Holy shit. Hellhounds.” “Harry, you know I hate it when you swear.” “You’re right. Sorry. Holy shit, heckhounds.” ~Harry & Michael

‘”Ow,” I complained. I keep my complaints succinct.’

‘The married thing. Sometimes I’d look at it and feel like someone from a Dickens novel, standing outside in the cold and staring in at Christmas dinner.’

“In the real world, the vampire eats you before you hit the record button.” ~Harry, to Susan

‘Hi God, it’s me, Harry. Please don’t turn me into a pillar of salt.’

“Don’t ‘yadda yadda’ the Lord, Harry. It’s disrespectful.” ~Michael to Harry

‘I slip into the archaic at dramatically appropriate moments. So sue me.’

“Let that be a lesson to you. Hands off the Fist of God.” ~Harry to vamp

‘I offered myself a hand up. So I took it.’

“What goes around, comes around and sometimes you get what’s coming around. And sometimes, you are what’s coming around.” ~Michael to Harry


Check out my other Dresden Files reviews:

#1 – Storm Front

#2 – Fool Moon

#4 – Summer Knight

#5 – Death Masks

#6 – Blood Rites

#7 – Dead Beat

#8 – Proven Guilty

#9 – White Night

#10 – Small Favor

#11 – Turn Coat

#12 – Changes

#12.5 – Side Jobs

#13 – Ghost Story

4 thoughts on “Review: ‘Grave Peril’ by Jim Butcher (audio)

  1. I really enjoyed this book, too. I think it is one of my favorites so far of the series because it does kick Harry’s adventures into high-gear.

    You get to see more of his smart-ass comments and, because of the loss of his magic, his real character when the chips are down.

    This book sets up so much of what is to come in the series that rereading it only shows you how much is set into motion.

    Your fave quote section at the bottom is my favorite part of your review. 🙂


    • Thanks! I have fun with the quotes, as most know!

      The quotes section on this particular review was rather long and I even wanted to add more but the bloody post was already over 1,400 words long!

      Even though this is my third time through the series (1st was in PB, 2nd on audio), I’m seeing a lot of foreshadowing I didn’t notice before. Having fun with it!


  2. Pingback: Review: ‘Summer Knight’ by Jim Butcher (audio) « Writing About Reading

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