When tormented ghosts become violent, Harry Dresden and friend Michael Carpenter uncover a malicious demon called the Nightmare that attacks when it’s victims are asleep and dreaming. Harry must find a way to stop the Nightmare because it’s targeting people close to Harry, while also avoiding his faerie godmother Leanansidhe, trying to protect a hunted young seer and his girlfriend Susan (who insists on joining Harry on dangerous missions), and a Red Court vampire party.

I was told by several friends (and the author himself in an introduction to the audiobook) that Grave Peril is the start of a strong upswing in quality for the Dresden series, and I completely agree. The cast of characters continues to grow, creating a more varied world for Harry. I especially enjoy new addition Michael, whose power lies in his faith in God, and as they track down evil supernatural creatures together, Harry must weather Michael’s constant preaching. They’re a fun unlikely couple.

In addition to the characters, the plot and world-view increases in complexity, and I find it much less predictable compared to the previous two books. It’s action-packed and fast-paced, and there’s always another obstacle for Harry to overcome with wit and optimism. And as a first-person narrative, let’s not forget that we as the audience see the world through Harry’s eyes, and his adork-able sense of humor, his colloquial dialogue, and his vivid descriptions all present a unique perspective from a mostly likable protagonist.

Although Grave Peril is better than the previous books in the series, I’m sticking with a 3 star rating for now. Many of the supplementary characters are lacking. Michael plays off of Harry quite well, but as a stand-alone character he’s at best a little dull and at worst mildly irritating. The ladies in the series continue to be overly described by their womanly parts, but that’s mostly an annoying trait of Harry. And although full of unexpected twists and turns, this is still popcorn-level storytelling.

Recommended for fans of urban fantasy who also enjoy dry sarcasm and puns. This series is fast becoming a favorite behind the Sookie Stackhouse series.

“Holy shit,” I breathed. “Hellhounds.”
“Harry,” Michael said sternly. “You know I hate it when you swear.”
“You’re right. Sorry. Holy shit,” I breathed, “heckhounds.”