See How Harry Digs a Hole for Himself In. . .
Okay then. Here we go on Harry Dresden’s third outing, Grave Peril. And this one sounds as if it might be his best – and most difficult – caper yet.
So what do we get?
A story of – what I like to call – “start/stop/starts.” That’s what.
What do I mean?
Let me explain. It starts off well: this adventure takes place about twelve months after his previous one, and Harry has made some new friends. In particular, Michael. A holy knight with a blessed sword. Just the thing Harry needs when dealing with all things fiendish and foul. Which is exactly what you get from page 1. Harry and Michael are speeding toward a local hospital where a crèche full of infants are in danger from the specter of a dead nurse. She’s powerful. She’s nasty. And before her death, was desperately unhinged. You get an idea from the blurb that she’s also hyped up on some form of ghostly steroids.
Anyway, I stuck with it and soldiered on.
Thankfully, the story picked up again sufficiently to recapture my interest. But it was trying, as there were several more instances where Dresden acted like a wet-wipe in a way nobody in their right mind would do, which dragged the tempo right down.
And yes. I know we’re talking about a work of fiction here. Something designed to titillate and entertain. Yet, works of fantasy also need to carry a solid element of reality. Something the reader can anchor themselves to, thereby allowing them to stretch the realms of ‘what might be’ into the fringes of the ‘might be plausible’ or ‘yeah, I can see that happening.’ And I don’t know. Perhaps it’s my background. But when I see a character gain control of a situation, or gain the upper hand, only to choose – time and time again, and quite deliberately – to put other decent, innocent, law-abiding (you get the picture) characters in danger at the expense of a bunch of supernatural murdering scumbags? No. It grates on my nerves and spoils my enjoyment of what would otherwise be a great story.
Like I said at the beginning, it’s a start/stop/start kinda tale. It begins like a blazing comet; sputters badly, due to the main character’s unbelievable choices; stokes up the heat for a second time; cools again; recovers well; only to fizzle toward a finishing line that thankfully raises the bar to pyrotechnic glory with its dying breath.
A shame. I really, really want to like this series. But I think it might give me hives if I try any more.