Ghost Story

I’m still reading the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (see previous post here). I’m about to finish Ghost Story, which is book 13 (spoilers!). This is one series I just can’t seem to put down. I’ve read a couple of other books interspersed throughout, but even then I have trouble getting Harry Dresden out of my head and focusing on a different story.

I’ll admit, I didn’t like the beginning of Ghost Story. At the end of the previous book, Changes, Harry is shot and falls into a lake, and we’re lead to believe that he dies. It’s fitting, then, that the next title is Ghost Story. Because, when the book starts, Harry is a ghost. He gets sent back from the afterlife to find his killer, but, since, he’s a ghost, he can’t communicate directly with his friends.

I have to applaud Jim Butcher here, for being able to change how he writes his protagonist. It’s still the same Harry, but how he interacts with the world is required to change. He can’t be exposed to sunlight. He has to speak through a medium. He can’t access his magic, nor can he interact directly with mortals. The character has to adapt to new circumstances and change the way he investigates this case. As the author, Jim Butcher has been writing Harry Dresden pretty much the same for the past 12 books. There’s a rhythm and set ways that Harry responds to stimuli. To abruptly change these things while still keeping the story true to its roots is impressive.

That being said, I didn’t like it. I don’t adjust well to the basis of a story suddenly being changed. It happens a lot in the TV shows I watch too, especially when they introduce time travel. Suddenly the characters you fell in love with are acting completely different, and it becomes hard to reconcile in your mind. The same is true for characters in books. I love Harry Dresden, and to suddenly see him portrayed so differently has been difficult for me to deal with.

Like any good reader, I’ve soldiered on, and I only have about 100 pages left. The book has grown on me, but it’ll never be one of my favorites in the series. Harry was finally able to interact with his friends, the other characters I’ve grown fond of, and those relationships are comforting to see. He also discovered how to access his magic, which seems to make him more whole and allows him to act more like I’m used to him acting.

I’m eagerly anticipating the end of the book. See, I don’t believe that Harry is actually dead. I think Harry’s starting to believe it too. There are two more books that I know of after this one, so I think Jim Butcher is going to bring Harry back to life, which will make a terrific resolution and settle my mind. I’d much prefer to continue reading about Harry the wizard than Harry the ghost.

What about you? Does it bother you when the basis of a character is suddenly changed? Let me know in the comments!

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