Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to…
The third title in the Dresden Files, Grave Peril, marks a noticeable shift in the world of Harry Dresden; so much so that the author, Jim Butcher, voices a forward at the beginning of the audiobook suggesting something to that effect. It’s not that everything is completely different, but it’s definitely not the same series that I fell in love with when listening to the first title.
The story opens with Dresden recalling the recent uprising of spirits in the Chicago area, and how he and his friend, Michael, a Knight Templar, have been working tirelessly to keep the peace. This is the first evident change – who is this Michael? In the previous books, Dresden didn’t have other supernatural-fighting buddies. He worked solo and brought in help reluctantly, yet in Grave Peril, we are told they’ve been working together for a while.
When Michael and Dresden take on a particularly nasty ghost who is trying to kill a bunch of newborns in the hospital, the pair have to follow her over into the never-never, the place where the supernatural reside. Once there, we learn that Harry is fearful of seeing his Godmother, a beautiful and deadly female fae who owns Harry’s sole. *raises eyebrow* Say what?! Where did this Leah come from? The story is told as if everyone knows about Leah (who is anything but motherly as she tries to seduce and capture Dresden), yet in the first two titles there is NOTHING mentioned about her. I understand that we will learn bits and pieces about Harry as the series unfolds; however, this feels like a contradiction to the background of Harry presented in the first two titles. In book 2, Fool Moon, Harry learns a small hint that his mother *may* have been a practicing witch and *possibly* was into the dark side; but this time around, Harry talks as if he knows more and that his mother assigned Leah as his Godmother. It felt like such a left turn from the direction the story was taking after two books, that it rubbed me the wrong way.
While the story itself was good; albeit a bit gruesome at times, it had a very different feel than in previous books. In the first two titles, Harry is brought into a whodunit case by Police Lt. Karin Murphy because the murders indicate some sort of supernatural twist. The premise of the stories is the mystery solving, with a bit of paranormal worked in due to the circumstances of the cases. However, Grave Peril is all about the fantasy, paranormal, and demon fighting. The story isn’t a whodunit, but rather a battle between good and evil on multiple fronts. There is a bit of mystery in that Dresden must figure out who is disturbing the normally peaceful spirits, but it isn’t a crime the listener can puzzle out along with Harry.
Luckily, James Marsters remains on as the narrator for the title, and once again, he turns in a stellar performance. He’s beginning to dabble a bit more with altered voices, changing the pitch and tone to suit both gender and species of each character. The base narrator is still that of Harry, and I just adore Mr. Marsters’ smooth voice, which smoothly flows across my psyche even during the most turbulent moments of the book.
In the end, Grave Peril was a good story, but not what I had come to expect from the first two books. If the series had started out this way, that would have been one thing, but it didn’t, so I found myself a bit disappointed. With the introduction of Harry’s mysterious godmother, the Fae and Vampire politics, and Michael with his faith power, the series shifted from a wonderful whodunit mystery full of fact-finding and problem-solving to a hardcore urban fantasy series based in supernatural.
My Rating: B-