The Dresden Files: Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

‘We have now left Reason and Sanity Junction. Next stop, Looneyville.’
— Jim Butcher, Grave Peril
A depiction of one of the earlier scenes in Grave Peril, art courtesy of Pablo Cakra

A depiction of one of the earlier scenes in Grave Peril, art courtesy of Pablo Cakra

If there was any way to preface this review, it would be with the introduction that I gave on Fool Moonbecause my praise for Jim Butcher's writing extends to another work of his I just read: Grave Peril.

In the last novel, we got a taste of Dresden's magical capabilities when it came to fighting, detective work, personal uses as well as countless others that would go on and on if this were a list. In this book, because the antagonists are more supernatural in the sense that they do not always present themselves in physical bodies, there is tons more creativity on Butcher's part, because Dresden has to fight the enemies on their turf: the spiritual realm, or as the occult world calls it, the "Nevernever."

After reading Fool Moon, I was going in with expectations of how the plot curve would look, and that is to say: similar. Fortunately, I was surprised. Dresden got his ass kicked much more, and countless times he wasn't necessarily the hero, more the punching bag for both emotional and physical trauma, leaving room for a handful of other characters to prove themselves. So I would applaud Butcher for that as well, he kept the reader on his toes considering he was probably taking into account that we expect something different.

‘Holy shit,’ I breathed. ‘Hellhounds.’
’Harry,’ Michael said sternly. ‘You know I hate it when you swear.’
’You’re right. Sorry. Holy shit,’ I breathed, ‘heckhounds.’
— Grave Peril

Just as well, Butcher's humor remained consistent, and hilarious.

What I particularly enjoyed about Grave Peril is that, unlike in Fool Moon, I think we got to see Dresden at his worst. Not morally, no, I would think that is coming later in the series, but physically, we got to see him fall pretty hard and push way beyond the boundaries of his capabilities. His confidence, and the lines he manages to gasp in those moments of near-death are some of the most amusing things I have ever read.

But, staying consistent with the last review, I still find that Butcher is able to add some wisdom, or perhaps you would rather call it personal insight, into this novel, no matter how hilariously entertaining and violent it might be. It may even be silly sometimes, but he still makes room for moments like this:

‘For the sake of one soul. For one loved one. For one life.” I called power into my blasting rod, and its tip glowed incandescent white. “The way I see it, there’s nothing else worth fighting a war for.’
— Harry Dresden

It's beautiful, is it not? Harry Dresden is one of the good guys. He may not be the best influence for your kids in the cursing department, but undoubtedly he is a character of virtue. And although the rage these days in literature is confusing protagonists with questionable morales, I would say that there is still a need for characters like Harry Dresden. And if you are on a plane ride, it's safe to say it would be worth it to get through one of the Dresden Files rather than take a nap.