Well, dear readers, I have yet to fulfill my promise to review Anansi Boys, but I can’t say that it impressed me. Neil Gaiman’s adult fiction leaves much to be desired. I loved Coraline and The Ocean at the End of the Lane; yet, American Gods was suffused with vulgarity, and Anansi Boys is rather average despite some fun moments. So, it did not give me much motivation for reviewing it.
The situation with Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story is quite the reverse. So much so that I wonder why Jim Butcher is not a household name instead of Gaiman. I mean, this book contained real pathos, dire situations, characters rich with suffering, great fights, stretches of agonizing suspense, and important moral questions (something sadly absent from Anansi Boys). It even divulged in interesting metaphysical questions on the nature of souls and the afterlife! I know what our dear readers may be thinking: “Isn’t this just genre fiction? Dark fantasy, noir, and urban fantasy?” But, Butcher shows just how much can be explored through these genres!
The story begins with our hero, Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, wizard and detective of Chicago, dead. His soul wakes up in a sort of limbo where deceased detectives still work on cases until they are ready to go to their final destinations. Dresden meets Carmichael, a former Chicago detective, who leads him to his boss. This boss gives Dresden the choice of joining the department or returning to solve his own murder. However, if Dresden refuses to take the case, three of his closest friends will die. Naturally, Dresden takes the case, even though he hates his limitations: 1) Most people can neither see nor hear him; 2) he cannot affect the physical world unless an enormous amount of energy is applied; 3) he can only use a fraction of his magical power; and 4) he risks the possibility of losing his soul forever if he fails to find the identity of his killer.
With these happy parameters, he sets out to meet Sir Stuart, the ghostly guardian of the ectomancer Mortimer. This same Mortimer is the only person whom he knows can hear him for sure in Chicago, but Mortimer wants nothing to do with Dresden’s shade. Finding snow covering the ground in May and himself having been deceased half a year ago, Dresden will have one heck of an adventure ahead of him!
So, be sure to treat yourself to this gem, which is even better than the first three novels of the series in my estimation. Since I rather skipped ahead in picking up Ghost Story from the library, I myself will be turning back to book four of the Dresden Files. Happy reading!