~by Jim Butcher
Grave Peril is the third book in the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I first began reading the series because they came so highly, and frequently, recommended. Even though they seem a little overrated so far (granted I find that most things are, and I've only read the first few books), I have enjoyed them immensely. But if the books continue to improve in quality like they have been, I might have to change my opinion. Though far from perfect, Grave Peril is definitely the best book in the series up to this point.
Life's been pretty good lately for Chicago's only wizard-for-hire, Harry Dresden: work is steady, he's got a great girlfriend, and no one has blatantly tried to kill him for at least a couple months. Granted, he's had to deal with a surprising number of ghosts recently, quite a few requiring backup from the resident Knight of the Cross, Michael Carpenter. And then there's the fact that the barrier between this world and the Nevernever seems to be disintegrating, which is a big problem--and not just because it makes it easier for Harry's godmother to track him down. Complicating matters even further, Bianca--the local head vampire--is getting a promotion and the city will be crawling with out-of-town vampires arriving for the celebration which he is required to attend as the representative for the White Council. Unfortunately for Harry, none of them are very fond of him at all, and Bianca arbors a particularly nasty grudge. Just how nasty will soon become apparent.
I was a little hesitant to read Grave Peril since Harry had irritated me so much in Fool Moon. Fortunately that was not the case in this book. While Harry still has the same personality quirks that had annoyed me so greatly (particularly blaming himself for everything), they are significantly toned down, making his characterization much more balanced--slightly more endearing, and much, much less frustrating. (It also helped that he didn't keep getting arrested every two pages.) I found a few things really stood out for me in Grave Peril. First was the introduction of Michael and of Thomas Raith--a vampire from the White Court. (Please, oh please let them be recurring characters!) I also particularly appreciated the further exploration of faith magic (in this case, Christian) and the continued examination of Butcher's version (actually versions) of vampires.
I enjoyed the first two books in the Dresden Files, but I really enjoyed the third. I think Butcher has begun to hit his stride with Grave Peril. The writing has improved and isn't nearly as awkward as it occasionally has been, and the pacing was spot on. However, having read the previous books, the third seemed at times repetitive, especially in the beginning chapters. Someone starting the series here of course wouldn't notice, but some of the descriptions and explanations sound awfully familiar. But, this does mean that the book can stand very well on its own in addition to being part of a series. Overall, Grave Peril has renewed my interest in the Dresden Files and I look forward to continued improvements and storytelling in Summer Knight.