Harry Dresden has 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 has gone postal. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble – and not just of the door-slamming, boo-shouting variety. These gosts 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…
The third book in The Dresden Files series of novels, this one expounds quite a bit on the world that professional Wizard Harry Dresden lives in–namely, the supernatural side of Chi-town. Though, I’ve yet to see Chicago referred to as that in the series yet.
We’re introduced to new character Michael Carpenter, a Knight of the Cross that’s helping Dresden take care of a sudden rash of malevolent ghost encounters; they both are rushing to a hospital to take care of a particularly macabre one that sings newborns to death. Something is happening to make the barrier between the physical mortal world and the spirit world–the Nevernever–weak enough to have not nice things come through easier, and after almost getting caught by his Faerie Godmother, he makes the connection between this and a literal Nightmare that seems to be stalking his friends and associates for whatever reason…a reason that points to a previous case that Dresden and Carpenter helped close with the Special Investigations unit of the Chicago PD. And all of this ties into the local society of Red Court vampires and their personal beef with Dresden. Yeah, it had to be the vampires. As long as he doesn’t try to start a war with them…wait. Ah, crap.
So, Grave Peril is pretty much where The Dresden Files finally hits its stride as being engrossing dark urban fantasy noir. Not only are we taking pretty much immediately into the action of things, but it’s a nicely taunt action at that, and in the course of things we’re given more fleshing out of Harry Dresden’s world, both in Chicago and beyond. We finally get a glimpse inside the Nevernever, we meet with Harry’s literal Faerie Godmother (who I always imagined as Ruth Connell, who played Crowley’s mother on the show Supernatural), the three major Vampire courts in play (the Red Court, the White Court, and the Black Court), and the introduction of Michael Carpenter as one of the Knights of the Cross, wielding the sword Amoracchius. Gads, I love this character. And yes, I know, he’s described as being Caucasian with blonde hair and blue eyes, all Catholic ubermench and all…but pretty much from the get-go, I pictured him more as Denzel Washington. And I feel no need to update my mental picture files on this. In my head, Michael and his family is African American, and that’s that.
Yeah, it was with this third entry into the Dresden Files where I found myself a bit more than just a curious novice, and began tearing through the books with reckless abandon. If you’ve made it this far into the series, then kudos. You know what I’m talking about.