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Ghost Story (Dresden Files)
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on August 14, 2017
This was a pretty good one. I appreciate that Jim Butcher tore down his whole series and did something completely different. I loved a scene near the beginning of the book, where a non-Dresden character. That was probably the most badass fight in the series so far.

However, the book got extremely repetitive at times, especially during the memory sequences. A lot of the book felt like filler, or like it was a series of vignettes cobbled together. I find it hard to remember exactly what was even going on, and I literally just finished reading the book.

I liked it enough to give a good rating, but is this the best Dresden Files book so far? No. Really, no.
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The story of this installment of the Dresden Files saga began to feel more than usually contrived by the time I got to the end, with the justifications for stuff getting less believable and a move right out of the 1940s Saturday Morning Serials to introduce a cheesy reveal if not on the last page, certainly late enough in the story to make me gnash my teeth. I won't spoil, but you'll hate it when you see it.

That said, I ended up reading the damned thing until one in the morning TWO nights in a row on work days. Conflicted? Me? Maybe you won't hate the cheesy reveal after all.

I know I'm maybe being a tad harsh here, but compared to some of the earlier books in the series this one had large chunks that had a "phoned in" feel, especially the seemingly endless recapitulations of mental debates that Harry keeps having about the *same* issues that read as though they are there simply to inflate the word count. I found that eventually these became distractions from the story. I'd say the point was to emphasize that Harry's Ghost cannot learn, but that is not the case (though earlier tracts on ghosts from this saga suggested that very thing).

I dropped a star because the story simply didn't hang together as well as others in the series in my opinion (though it may not be the worst offender in that) and I have to think that when reviewing these books they should stand against each other as marks of excellence.

I knocked off another star because an Amazon review is NOT just an attempt at a critical review, but also a review of the physical build of whatever it is, and two pages of mine fell out because they hadn't been bound into the spine in the first place!

The story is worth reading (after all, if you've gotten this far you want to know what's going to happen to the protagonist after the cliffhanger in the previous volume). It should go without saying that this isn't the place to start your acquaintance with Harry Dresden. Though some of the earlier novels are OK on-ramps to the Weird Chicago Thruway, Ghost Story is a terrible place to attempt to merge in my opinion.


This book makes me wonder how much more life there is in the Dresden Saga. It gave me the same impression of weariness with the subject that watching "Let It Be" does. The skill and the talent are still there, but the desire to make them work in this arena is flagging, or so it seems to this reader.

All my impressions and opinion of course.

Your mileage may vary, especially if you travel through the Nevernever.
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VINE VOICEon November 4, 2011
This is the 13th book in the Dresden series. It is hard to believe that this series has been going on so long. I enjoyed this book, but it was more of a transition book and I thought it was one of the weaker books in this series. The ending was spectacular though and I am eager to see what book 14 brings. This is definitely not a book to start the series on, you will be totally lost unless you have read the previous books in this series.

At the end of the previous book Harry was shot and killed. This book starts with Harry as a ghost; he is given a choice...he can dwell in purgatory or go back and try to find his killer. When Harry is told that people he love will die if he doesn't find his killer it becomes a no-brainer for him. Harry returns to find both Chicago and his friends much changed...and not for the better. Can he save the city and solve the mystery before everything gets even worse?

This is a large and lengthy book...and it felt like it. Usually I breeze through these Dresden books and enjoy them immensley but this one was more of a chore for me to get through. It moves slower than previous books and there is a lot of reminiscing on Harry's part.

Okay let me take a step back for a second. There was a lot I really enjoyed in this book. We learn a ton about Harry's past and that was pretty cool. Harry has to figure out how to operate as a ghost and that was nifty as well. Both Murphy and Molly have become powers to be reckoned with, and while at times it was painful to read about what they've endured, it was awesome to watch their characters development into even more interesting people.

There were also things I didn't like about this book. The pacing was off. The majority of the book was kind of slow and then the ending was spectacular. Ghost's and their special powers run off of memories. So, as you might expect, Harry does a lot of reflecting on his past memories. While it was nice to learn more about Harry's past, these little flashbacks had a tendency to break up the story and make it loose its momentum. There were also large portions of the book where Harry would monologue about whether or not he approved of his past actions; I like seeing in Harry's head but these lengthy monologues happened too often and were too long.

There was also a lot absent in this book. The Vampire Courts and the White Council was conspicuously absent for the majority of the book. With all the weird supernatural stuff going down it was hard to believe that they would be absent from it all.

I did enjoy some of the plot twists at the end, there were unexpected and creative. I loved the ending and it made me excited to see what comes next.

Overall I am kind of on the fence about this book. I really enjoyed some parts of it, I thought other parts were lengthy and boring. I loved learning about Harry's background but got sick of the soul-searching monologues. It seemed like this book could have used some better editing and tightening up. All that aside it was nice to reunite with all these characters that I love so much. The ending was excellent and I do look forward to reading the next book in this series. Even though this book wasn't as spectacular as the books in this series normally are it was still a good book. I definitely recommend this whole series to fans of urban fantasy.
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on June 27, 2015
This is not a bad book and it certainly brings a new and fresh story and angle into the Dresden universe. Harry is, as you can read in the book blurb, dead and now roams around as a ghost.

Unfortunately I have to say that I liked the old live version of Harry Dresden better. Harry has none of his magical powers in this book and, to me, this is a real negative point. A lot of the world around him, the real world, have gone down the drain and on the whole the ambiance of this book is much more sad and depressing.

There are plenty of action and plenty of new enemies which is what keep the book going but Harry is mostly a spectator while other people are doing the fighting for him. Again something that I have to say I was not too pleased with. The majority of the book is spent on Harry trying to figure out who killed him by trying to persuade the various people who can, if not see so, at least hear him. It got boring fairly quickly though.

The biggest positive point with this book (a bit of a spoiler ahead) is the ending which hints that Harry will be back in the saddle again in future stories.
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on August 14, 2017
Again, Dresden goes where you really hadn't expected!! The featured characters were a different mix than prior books and the self narrative was a primary tool. This story is darker and a little sad, with less of the urban hero bravado of before. Must have been a real challenge to write such a transitional piece. Looking forward to the next installment.
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on August 10, 2013
While re-reading Ghost Story in preparation for reading Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files, I realized Ghost Story had a lot of dry humor and snide side comments that I totally missed the first time around due to the frenzy of OMG! moments inherent in the story.

The story is great. The book is great. The plot twists and thickens with every chapter. Yes, yes, and yes!

It is also really, really funny! Well worth the time to read it again. Once the plot twists are not overloading the brain cells, the humor of Harry learning to be a spirit and the snarky asides he throws out come to the forefront to enjoy. It was almost like reading a new book.

Go see for yourself!
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VINE VOICEon July 26, 2011
Jim Butcher is one of those authors I count on. Usually his books are like the reading equivalent of a weekend at a five-star hotel with a personal chef and a cabana boy. GHOST STORY was was more like a weekend at a four-star hotel with a nice dinner out. Not bad - not even close to it - just not the same superlative wonderfulness that Butcher usually delivers.

In GHOST STORY, Harry is forced into a passive role. The title is literal: he's a ghost. He can't do much of anything. He has to stand by and let other people act, or, if he's lucky, persuade them to act according to his instructions. In terms of Harry's character development and moving the series forward, I think this is exactly what Harry needs. For example: there's a sideplot with a gang of kids who are ordered to do a drive by shooting on Murphy's house. Harry ends up hanging out with the top kid, learning about his situation, and then working to change it by rustling up some caretakers and competent adult supervision. He achieves a better, more humane result than he would have found if he'd been able to jump in and fight, like he usually would.

In general, Harry is forced by his circumstances to do a lot of listening, waiting, and reflecting. Harry's always been a smart, thoughtful guy but not someone who dwells unduly on the past. I think that being forced to change his tune is good for him as a person and ultimately for the series - but, just like having Harry be so passive, it's not great for the reading experience. I think half of GHOST STORY might be flashbacks. Taking a stroll down memory lane with Harry is enjoyable...but it's still a STROLL, and Harry Dresden books are usually a lot more like, I don't know, a freight train crashing down Mount Everest. GHOST STORY simply does not have the momentum and muscle of the average Dresden book.

The overall feel is uneven. The action either occurs in the material world without Harry's participation, or else in the spiritual plane without any help from the cast of supporting characters. Harry finds ways to communicate with his friends, but he can't interact with them. The sense of disconnection and compartmentalization is pervasive. A book narrated by a ghost OUGHT to feel like that, so in a way this is a compliment, but it's not as much fun as a book with a live narrator, what can I say?

Then there's the last, final, biggest problem. Harry's told that he has to go back to Chicago and find out who killed him before he can move on to the next world. And while I was VERY interested to discover the answer, it was also, weirdly, a letdown. I felt a little bit like at the end of a TV episode where you find out everything that happened was a dream - that's not what happens here, the book is not just a big dream sequence, but I had that same feeling of having been cheated.

My final judgment is an odd one. I like GHOST STORY just the way it is - I think that cutting Thomas and Murphy out of the plot was cheating, but I wouldn't change the fundamentals. I think I'll like Harry more with these new lessons under his belt; I have no trouble seeing GHOST STORY as a springboard to better things, a necessary step in the series arc. But most Dresden Files books would clear five stars easy for me, and this one is four.
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on November 12, 2016
I love the Dresden stories, but this one left me flat. I understand that Harry has a lot of memories, guilt, people he thinks that he let down. But this book was too talky for me. It would have been better to cut to the chase. It is still excellent writing, but if you are a fan like me, you are aware of the pain and heartache he has gone through. Still enjoyable and will continue with the installments.
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After waiting for so long we now get to find out the fate of our beloved sarcastic wizard after his untimely demise. The series gives us a focus on the story of our dear Harry Dresden than before, but what can you expect from someone whose already deceased. The ending while somewhat typical still fit the story nicely so now all we have to do is wait until the next Dresden Book to come out which is a major bummer but guess it can't be helped. Also a little off topic while the kindle product is indeed nice for readers I still feel we should support the printed age a little more still, and for fans and readers out there I say buy the printed copies of this enjoyable series...
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on August 8, 2011
I have read every single Dresden files Novel. I have liked or loved all of them, this one was no different except for the emotional roller coaster it takes you on. The plot dodge, dips, ducks, dives, and....dodges. I thought I could see what was coming then it didn't, then it did. The book was fast paced, and always kept you interested, it took me a hour and one long plane ride to finish it(usually I sleep, it wouldn't let me). I don't want write any spoilers so this is it for my review, if you like Dresden, you will like this book.

One more thing, in every story book he writes it pushes the whole series along, not just the book. It draws from several books in the past and sets up story arcs a few books in the future. It is one of my favorite things about this series
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