I'm going to assume that if you're reading this review, you've read all of the Dresden books up to and including Ghost Story. So, if you haven't, don't complain if I spoil this for you, because I just don't think I can vague-ify this one. Here we go...
Reaction immediately after finishing Changes & Aftermath (from Side Jobs):
Reaction while reading Ghost Story:
Reaction after reading Ghost Story:
So like... if you know me, you'd know why this motherfucker right here got 5 stars. It made me cry. Many times. I don't really know how many because I didn't count, but I was kind of surprised it happened at all. I mean, I'd recently finished Changes, and I remember how emotional that one was, how much Harry lost, how much his world, his life, changed. How he gained a daughter that he could never know, how he had to murder someone he loved to protect that daughter. I remember these things and the way they affected me. And it was good. I'd never felt that way reading a Dresden book before.
But this one upped the emotional ante and (dare I say it?) went all in. I'll probably be turning right back around after Cold Days and saying, "Remember how I said Ghost Story was fucking raw?? Well, color me fucking short-sighted..." If that happens, I admit it, I'll be thrilled. Because I'm deranged like that and love when books gut-punch me. By the way, Ghost Story was fucking raw.
I loved all the little ways that this hurt me. From Murphy's distrust that Harry's shade was really Harry, to the way Molly changed after losing Harry, to the fact that it was 10 pages before the end of the story before Harry lets himself think of Thomas... and all that those things imply, the emotional aspect of this one was ratcheted up. I loved (and hated) feeling Harry's loss through his friends, through the city itself, and how it's gone wild in such a short time without Harry's influence there, and I feared what permanence might mean. I loved Harry's growth and insight, and his concern for his friends even after death. I loved all these things, and how they all tied in together to show how much I'd grown to love Harry
over the course of twelve books. I mean, I knew I'd loved him... but I don't think I knew how much until I lost him. Yeah... I said it. Cliche FTW.
This used to be a series that I enjoyed, but to me it was like candy. Really good candy, satisfying candy, but candy nonetheless. I like it, but I don't need it, I can't live on it. Now the emotional impact has been upped and this is ranging more in the soup and a sandwich zone. It's now got substance and nourishment and it's filling
... but leaves me wanting more a few hours later. Pleasepleaseplease let Cold Days graduate to dinner! I'm hungry!
Technically, aside from the details, this was kind of what I expected... had I expected anything. Dang, that sentence really doesn't make much sense. I mean, once it started and I knew what kind of story I was working with, the storyline kind of went where I thought it would. Or... rather, where I was fingers/toes/legs/eyes-crossed/hair braided hoping it would. The route it took to get there was unexpected and different, but still. I'm thankful it DID get there, and didn't go the closeish route of having Harry join Captain Murphy's team. While I'm sure that would have been interesting, and Harry'd have found some method of interaction, I was hoping for the full Monty. THANK YOU, Jim Butcher, for letting me have that. I can't wait to see where Cold Days goes. (I'm a little frightened too, though.)