Book Review: Jim Butcher’s Grave Peril

Posted June 7, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jim Butcher’s Grave Peril

Grave Peril


Jim Butcher

It is part of the The Dresden Files #3 series and is a urban fantasy that was published by ROC on September 1, 2001 and has 378 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Mean Streets, Changes, Side Jobs, Ghost Story, Dark and Stormy Knights, Aftertaste, Hex Appeal, Welcome to the Jungle, Dangerous Women, Storm Front, Summer Knight, Fool Moon, Cold Days, Skin Game, Blood Rites, Death Masks, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, Shadowed Souls

Third in the Dresden Files urban fantasy/horror series revolving around Harry Dresden, the only self-advertised wizard in Chicago. It’s been a year since Fool Moon, 2. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the The Dresden Files books on my website.

My Take

Butcher introduces a few new series characters to us in this one, and I love how complex these relationships are with Harry. I also love how much show Butcher provides. He makes me feel as though I’m right there in Harry’s basement apartment with all that stone around me, the fireplace and candles, the chill of the shower. The fear and horror of Bianca’s place. The cheap and tacky feel of Mortimer’s “spooky” house, lol. I can appreciate Morty’s perspective on his current career. People do want closure, and how will they ever know otherwise?

This story is amazing in its terrifying complexities with so many side issues, most of which tie in with the central plot. It’s a good way to provide series interest let alone interest in this story on its own. The tricky ins and outs at Bianca’s ball had me on my toes while the Nightmare’s machinations had my heart rate cranking overtime.

Hmmm, the ghost issues in this are terrifying and a unique twist. I do like how Butcher uses magic tropes and twists them to fit with how the average man-on-the-street would interpret it. He makes it seem…so reasonable. And I love that Harry tries to play fair and help anyone out, even though he’s been burned so many times before.

“Nipple erection on command. Now that’s method acting.”

What is it with characters who can’t or won’t tell a private investigator everything? If you’re willing pay someone for their time to help you, wouldn’t it make sense to tell them as much as possible?

Okay, bad pun, but I did enjoy Harry’s response to Michael’s chastisement about the swearing…”Holy shit, heckhounds.” Then there’s that costume Harry wears to the party. Omigod, ROFLMAO.

Ahh, the women in Harry’s life… I gotta confess, Lea is not my idea of a godmother, let alone a fairy godmother. Then there’s Susan. Ouch. And she has an excellent point about wishing she were as important to Harry as what he does. Harry gains firsthand experience of what a vampire’s spittle will do to a man. And I thought Butcher’s description of the true form of a vampire was scary; it’s got nothing on the reaction to vampire spit.

More scary thoughts: “walls around cemeteries keep things in” as well as out.

We start to learn about Harry’s underage bargain with Lea, and Butcher provides a great explanation of how a threshold works. Since then, we’ve gotten the impression that Harry knows a lot, but I gotta wonder why it is that he keeps getting into so much trouble, especially in terms of his having enough power available. Shouldn’t he have a better grasp of how much he can do by now?

It’s gross how Harry gets his power back, and it’s sad how Harry manages to free Susan, but at least he said those critical words.

Now, see, that’s what I like in a character. One smart enough to get out of her boyfriend’s line of fire. Although, Charity’s actions seem out of character. She hates Harry. Why would she go off with him? And poor Michael is having his own crises. As for Harry whining about how he should have protected Susan…it is within character for him to believe he should protect her, however Susan is the one who put herself into this situation, and Harry has done everything he could think of to keep her safe.

I feel bad, in the abstract, for what happens to Susan. Yeah, that means I don’t feel that bad. She should’a done her homework, and she should’a listened to Harry. And Harry should’a honored his promises. It might have made a difference.

Harry does keep a few tricks up his sleeve.

The Story

The spirit world is going postal and Harry and Michael are running ragged trying to protect Chicago. It only gets worse when they find that the ghosts are being tortured, and Bianca wants Harry to come to a party.

A party Susan finds out about and badgers Harry about taking her, a human. To a vampire party.

Internal Affairs is coming down on Karrin and the torturing is expanding onto others.

It simply gets worse when Harry realizes who is doing the torturing and why…

The Characters

Harry Dresden is a powerful wizard, a private investigator when he’s not working as a consultant for the Chicago PD, and reminded that he’s the local representative of the White Council. He also can’t resist a lady in distress. The Blue Beetle is his mismatched VW that groans at anything over 60 miles per hour. Bob is a spirit entity hiding out in a human skull. He’s the equivalent of a magical computer database with thousands and thousands of potion recipes in his, um, head. I’m not sure how it finds room in there with all the pornography Bob has swirling through his brain. Susan Rodriguez, Harry’s girlfriend, is a reporter for the Arcane and syndicated in “publications of questionable reputation all over the world”. Mister is his humongous cat.

Michael Carpenter is his best friend, a righteous man, and a Knight of the Cross, carrying Amoracchius, one of three swords given by God to mankind. Charity is his pregnant, very unhappy wife. Father Forthill is at St. Mary of the Angels by Wicker Park, and he’s a great friend of Michael’s.

Special Investigations, Chicago PD
Detective Rudolph and Detective Sergeant John Stallings work for Lieutenant Karrin Murphy. Mickey Malone was Murphy’s old partner before he had to retire on a disability. His wife, Sonia, teaches in an elementary school.

The Nightmare is stirring things up and torturing ghosts, people, anyone he has a grudge against. Agatha Hagglethorn was married to Benson over a hundred years ago, and she was terrified for herself and her baby daughter. And I think Agatha’s been reading about Lizzie Borden! Lydia is a practitioner of the art suffering from Cassandra’s tears, and in trouble.

Mortimer Lindquist is a professional con artist — he’s really slid downhill since his days as an ectomancer. Mike is the mechanic who keeps the Blue Beetle running. Leanansidhe “Lea” is Harry’s angry godmother. Seems Harry hasn’t always been so fair. Justin was Harry’s mentor.

The White Council of Wizards is the governing body of the wizards, well, most of the supernaturals, and they don’t like people knowing about their secrets.

The Velvet Room and the Red Court
The Red Court vampires don’t cross completely over until they’ve killed someone they’re feeding from. The Velvet Room is the name of Bianca’s bordello. Kyle Hamilton, his sister, Kelly, and Don Paolo Ortega are vampire associates of Madame Bianca St. Claire. Seems Bianca is “irked” at Harry for Rachel‘s death (see Storm Front, 1). Mr. Ferro, a.k.a., Ferrovax, a dragon, is one of the guests.

The White Court of Vampires
The White Court uses seduction, lust, fear, and hatred — the emotions — to pull their prey in. The beauteous Thomas of House Raith is accompanied to the party by his lover, Justine. His father, Lord Raith, is the highest vampire of the White Court, but Thomas is his bastard son, the lowest, the least regarded.

The Black Court of Vampires
Mavra has it in for Harry and Michael and has teamed up with some bad guys.

Leonid Kravos was a really bad sorcerer whom Harry helped Murphy take down. It wasn’t pretty.

His mother’s silver pentacle is the symbol of Harry’s magic. The Nevernever is the land of Faerie, and Harry cannot be caught there. A soulgaze penetrates deep inside you, into “all of your dark secrets and hidden fears”. The Sight is being able to see “the energies of life stirring and moving, running like blood through the sky, between water and fire”, able to see things and beasties as they really are.

Harry’s strength is in thaumaturgy; he needs to use artificial foci, his blasting rod or another of his doodads, to have any kind of control over evocations.

The Cover and Title

The cover is tone-on-tone browns as Harry walks, staff in hand, through a misty cemetery, tombstones rising up everywhere.

The title is laughingly appropriate as this is the installment in which Harry receives the gift of his tombstone, and he’s in Grave Peril throughout this story.