Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.
Harry Dresden, Chicago-dwelling PI and wizard, is about to go head to head with a very powerful foe. But first he has to subdue the ghost in the baby ward of Cook County General hospital. Luckily, he has brought along his pious friend, Michael Carpenter. Something has been stirring up the ghosts in Chicago and the two have been quite busy of late putting these angry shades back to bed.
This is the book where the series starts to get serious. Significant things happen in this book that ripple throughout the rest of the series. There’s a fairy godmother, the Red Court vampires, these irritated ghosts, not to mention things getting a bit more serious between Harry and Arcane news reporter Susan Rodriguez. Then there’s Michael with his solid faith and Lt. Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD. Meaningful things happen to all these characters and not all of them are good things.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would like Michael because I wasn’t sure how preachy (or not) he would be. It turns out that Michael isn’t preachy so much as he is sure that his path is one of virtue. His mild reminders to Harry of the so called right path are given from a place of love, respect, and friendship. Quite frankly, it’s part of his personality and he wouldn’t be Michael if he didn’t periodically remind his good friends of the Christian way. With that said, he’s a badass in a fight. Harry is lucky to have him around.
I found Harry’s fairy godmother, the Leanansidhe, to be a very intriguing character. There is definitely history between these two. I have never seen Harry so scared of any one person! Bianca of the Red Court vampires makes another appearance and she’s still holding a grudge over what happened in Book 1 (Storm Front). If these two ladies aren’t enough, there’s another bad guy or two waiting in the shadows, secretly causing Harry grief.
The mystery behind what is stirring up the ghosts was pretty chilling. It had ties to more than one bad guy so this made it harder for Harry to nail down and solve. Unfortunately, some of Harry’s friends get hit by the bad guys and there are lasting ramifications from this. I really felt for those affected, and for Harry who feels he should have been able to protect them, but I also applaud the author for having such consequences – it makes the story that much more interesting and intense.
Susan is ever on the hunt for a good story. While Harry is her boyfriend, she’s not above hanging out with him to get a great interview or a few awesome pics of something supernatural. She keeps pushing the envelope, thinking she is safe from these supernatural critters, and it blows back on her. She’s not an idiot but she can be one when it comes to running down a story. She’s too blithe about what can hurt her and that doesn’t work out for her. While I wasn’t particularly glad that happened, it was almost inevitable and I am glad the author kept the cause and effect logic going for her storyline.
We also have our first appearance of Thomas Raith and his lover Justine, which introduces the White Court of vampires, which are essentially succubi. Thomas is glamorous and likes to play the fool. His manner towards Harry is almost playful and it’s definitely hard to tell what side, if any, Thomas is on.
All around, this is another great addition to the series. I really liked that the take-me-seriously bad guy level was raised. It made the whole story much more intense and, hence, more enjoyable.
The Narration: James Marsters continues on as the voice of Harry Dresden, and still does a spiffy job of it. His playboy voice for Thomas Raith is also great. Marsters also got to show off his spooky voices with this one – from the lullaby-singing ghost in the opening scenes to Mavra (a seriously creepy vampire) to the thing that is behind the riled up ghosts – all were done very well.