cover image GRAVE PERIL


Jim Butcher, . . Roc, $6.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-451-45844-5

Wizard Harry Dresden stars in the third installment of the Dresden Files (following Fool Moon), a haunting, fantastical novel that begins almost as innocently as those of another famous literary wizard named Harry. In the opening scene, Dresden and his knight friend, Michael, battle the ghost of a woman who is terrorizing a local hospital's maternity ward. From there, the novel quickly evolves into an unorthodox tale spiced with sexual innuendo and subtle humor (Dresden carries his ghost-hunting gear in an old Scooby-Doo lunch box). Due to the weakened barrier between the spirit world—which Butcher refers to as "the nevernever"—and the actual world, obsessive and violent ghosts are on the loose in modern-day Chicago, and they seem to be targeting Dresden and Michael. Horny vampires and possessive demons join the mix as Dresden journeys into the spirit world to hunt down the villains who are terrorizing him and his friends. Butcher narrates Dresden's story in the first person, which limits the amount of detail he can inject into the lives of his secondary characters. Despite this narrow point of view, Butcher successfully lends human dimensions to vampires and spirits through his vivid descriptions and colloquial dialogue. (Sept.)

Forecast: A vivid cover showing glowing barbed wire wrapped around a pair of cemetery gates is misleading—as is a cover quote appealing to fans of Laurell K. Hamilton and Tanya Huff—but it will catch the browser's eye. This over-the-top tale is more likely to entertain young adult readers than fans of the aforementioned authors.