Okay, I ended up finishing the third book sooner than expected. While I plan to take a small break from Dresden now, I’m going to continue covering the series on this blog. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at “Grave Peril.”
The central mystery Dresden has to deal with in this one revolves around ghosts, dredged up from the other side (aka the Nevernever, more on that later) by an unknown force. One ghost in particular called the Nightmare seems to be targeting Harry and his friends specifically. On top of that, Harry’s not-so-nice godmother is after him as well. Are the two interconnected, or could the Nightmare have its own agenda?
There’s a lot more to the plot besides that vague description, but to say more about it would be getting into a ton of spoilers. I WILL say that this is easily the most twisty-turny story so far. I was only able to predict one thing in the course of it. I think I more blame myself for having seen too many supernatural shows/movies than I do the book for making it semi-obvious. The book’s focus stays on the ghosts and NIghtmare for a while to make you think that that’s the obstacle Harry will have to overcome, but the story quickly becomes much deeper than that. It’s a lot to take in, but I found it super engaging and clever in the directions it took.
A couple supporting characters make their debut here, and I’m going to mention two of the big ones. First, there’s Michael, a Knight of the Cross who wields a powerful sword called Amoracchius. This sword is also very important to the story. Michael is a man of faith and also a famiy man, as we get to meet his wife, Charity, his young daughter, Molly, and there’s mentioned of their son who Charity is pregnant with. Michael plays a big part in the story and is easily one of my new favorite supporting characters. I love how he interacts with Harry and acts like his opposite in nearly every way, from having a family to even just hating swearing. I’m normally not big on overly religious characters, as I can find them preachy at times, but Michael hits the right balance for me. There are times I find him nosy like Harry does, and there are plenty of other times where I find myself siding with him against Harry. I’ve been told I’ll see more of him through the series and I honestly can’t wait.
The other character I’ll mention is someone who resides in the Nevernever, which is the spirit world and also acts as another world for supernatural beings. It’s here, during a ghost chase, that we meet someone from Harry’s background: Lea, his faerie godmother (yes, really). Unfortunately, this godmother isn’t the kind, overly helpful type that you’d see in “Cinderella.” Lea is set up to be a character to hate and you really DO grow to hate her. She’s manipulative, cunning and takes every chance possible to bring Harry in to serve her. She ties into a deal he made as a young man, and her pursuit of him is something I feel won’t be resolved anytime soon. But, as much as I dislike her, I can’t help wanting to know more about her and by extension Harry.
If I had to gripe about this book, it’d be two minor things. One would be the use of Michael near the end, where he basically is taken out of the story so we can focus on what Harry’s doing. It’s a REALLY minor nitpick, though, as the stuff Harry’s involved in is far more interesting. The other minor thing would be Murphy’s lack of presence in the book. I’ve liked Murphy since day one, but in this she doesn’t get much to do. She’s involved at one point with the Nightmare plot, but it leaves her in a state where she’s out of the story till the very last chapter. While it was a good way to show she’s not invulnerable to danger and will no doubt have lasting consequences for her, I was just a little disappointed that she couldn’t be involved. Still, once again a minor point, and I know I’ll be seeing plenty of her in future books.
Overall, “Grave Peril” is my favorite story in terms of the twists and turns involved. While “Fool Moon” had a pretty huge cast of supporting characters, both good and bad, this one felt a bit more focused. We get to know characters like Michael and Lea pretty well, the Nightmare and other threats presented are given a lot of detail both in character and schemes, and existing characters have a few new developments given to them. While this book is also set up to be easily read by newcomers, I would still recommend starting from the first book so you can really appreciate the twists and turns this book presents.
I give “Grave Peril” a 9.5/10.