I just finished reading Jim Butcher's 'Ghost Story' - the latest but one (I believe) Harry Dresden novel.
I'm a big Harry fan. I do not, for all the world, understand why they canned the TV show. Having said that, Amerian TV broadcasters and Producers have proven over and over again how unbelievably stupid they are, so I should't really be surprised. If you need proof - Dresden Files, Firefly, Total Recall (no, not that one), and Almost Human are at the top of my bitch list.
Anyhow, this is about the book - or, rather, the AUDIO book. Yes, I'm back to long commutes without the use of my hands, so Audible gets its claws into me again. In this instance - in fact in all instances of Harry Dresden audiobooks, the narration was superbly executed by James Marster (aka Spike, from Buffy). He so gets it.
Now, I will play fair. I just got through going through my newest book with my editor at Kristell Ink, so I may be hyper-sensetised, but I swear there were points I nearly threw - well, maybe wanted to throw - my iPhone out of the window. One trigger was the expletive 'Hells Bells', which I swear was mentioned at least once every two pages.
But the thing that drove me right around the corner and up the wall was the waffle. Lets not pretend Dresden books are sophisticated. Harry gets mad, knocks things around with magic, nearly gets beaten, then comes up with a cunning escape plan that more often than not has an element of divine intervention. But we love him for it.
In this book the waffle quorient was astronomical. I can't really go too much into the 'why' of it, as I try never to put even teeny spoilers in my reviews, but the amount of self obsessed navel gazing was a trial, even if there is sort of a reason - Dresden has to do a lot of personal reassessment in this novel, but its overbearing, with too many historical flashbacks. The Harry-esque blunders come thick and fast and more monumental than ever.
Then, when you get to the end, you realise this was 'The Empire Strikes Back', 'Matrix Reloaded', or any other middle film you care to mention. Its the one that wasn't really strong enough, but they made it anyway, most often because they had about 30 minutes, or 150 pages, of set-up for the next film (or book). And that is very much what this book is - a filler.
Having said that, I'm glad I 'read' it. Butcher develops a few previously secondary characters into real and impressive people, which is a pleasure to read, and Molly's fight scene is worthy of an award - and of that I shall say no more. Even the closing 75 pages or so help to make up for the mediocre bulk of the novel, even though there are echoes of a different Harry standing in a cleaner version of Kings Cross.
Conclusion? If you are a dedicated Harry Dresden fan, read it - but maybe be prepared to skip a few pages here and there. If you are not already hooked on Dresden, go back to one of the earlier books and start there.