Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Grave Peril ch. 12-13

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Chapter 12

Last time: A cop got ghost-murdered, or something!

This time: Further investigation of that topic!

We get a little spiel about how awesome Micky Malone and his wife are/were.

It was one of those places that wasn’t just a house. It was a home.

Wasn’t there a brand of paint or something that used that as a slogan?

For some reason Harry has to be invited into the house before he can wizard there, since it’s a home and not just a house and whatever, BS magic rules.

“So what about Victor Sells’s place? I hear you took him on, right?”

I shook my head. “He’d screwed up his threshold. He was running his business out of it, using the place for dark ceremonies. It wasn’t a home anymore.”

Butcher, I barely even remember that character from the previous books. If you just didn’t mention this I’d never notice the contradiction. Anyway I’m guessing we’re being set up here for a later scene in which Harry can’t use his powers, because reasons.

Rudolph tells Harry that he’s been seeing more people dissapearing and stuff lately. Harry privately theorizes it might be vampires rounding up victims for Bianca’s party, but doesn’t share this thought for a bunch of convoluted reasons.

You don’t bring in the cops and the other mortals as weapons. They’re the nuclear missiles of the supernatural world. If you show people a supernatural brawl going on, it’s going to scare the snot out of them and the next thing you know, they’re burning everything and everyone in sight. Most people wouldn’t care that one scary guy might have been right and the other was wrong. Both guys are scary, so you ace both of them and sleep better at night.

Harry, I distinctly remember how last book you were whining and complaining that no one believed in the supernatural. Did you just forget to mention how you’re deliberately hiding it from them?

Micky Malone’s wife Sonia arrives and is subject to a brief Dresden Scan (she’s too old for Harry to have sex with so she “used to be beautiful” instead of being hot right now).

We went through a living room where several cops, people I knew from S.I., sat around talking quietly. It reminded me of a funeral. They looked up at me as I went by, and talk ceased.

They’re probably laughing at how dorky your clothes look.

Sonia leads Harry upstairs, giving a strategically atmospheric amount of information about what happened, then departs to make lunch.

I knocked gently on the door.

Karrin Murphy opened it.

Hi Murphy!

This book just got 100% more Murphtastic.

She wasn’t anyone’s idea of a leader of a group of cops charged with solving every bizarre crime that fell between the lines of the law enforcement system

Wow, that is an awkwardly constructed sentence.

She didn’t look like someone who would stand, with her feet planted, putting tiny silver bullets into an oncoming freight train of a loup-garou, either-but she was.

That one as well.

Anyway Micky is possessed, which means it’s time for another Exorcist rip-off, as that is the only portrayal of possession anyone will ever draw from. At least it’s a dude this time and not a young woman in a white flappity gown.

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See, in that last one she’s wearing a red gown. Totally different.

Also while we’re at it let’s talk about the somewhat uncomfortable fact that the whole idea of demonic or ghostly possession came about as a way to explain mental illness before anyone really understood what that was.

(In the next chapter it turns out he’s not possesed, but am I going to let that stop me from ranting about a pet peeve? Pffft no)

Chapter Thirteen

Harry uses wizard-sense or whatever to detect strange magical energies oozing out of Micky, but he can’t tell what they are. He uses Wizard Sight and sees the same black wire that was in Mrs. Ghostface from earlier, as well as horrific spirit-damage. He manages to pull the wire free after some time, in a scene that’s legitimately pretty horrifying.

It suddenly twisted and spun like a serpent, and one end plunged into my throat.

That’s probably not good.

The door burst open. Murphy came through it, her eyes living flames of azure blue, her hair a golden coronet around her. She held a blazing sword in her hand and she shone so bright and beautiful and terrifying in her anger that it was hard to see. The Sight, I realized, dimly. I was seeing her for who she was.

Totally awesome, you mean?

(If Harry looked at himself in a mirror he’d see a sixteen year old boy wearing a t-shirt with a dragon on it)

Murphy flings open a window at Harry instruction and he tosses the wire out, then blasts it with fire-magic to make is asplode. But at least Micky’s okay!

“What did it?” Murphy asked. Her voice was quiet, steel-hard.

“I don’t know yet,” I said. I closed my eyes, shaking, and leaned my head back against a wall. “I’ve been calling it the Nightmare.”

Wait, how do you know this is the same thing that whats-his-face told you about?

“Any time. You’re my friend, Murph. And I’m always up to helping a lady in distress.”

She glanced up at me, a sparkle in her eyes underneath the brim of the baseball cap.

“You are such a chauvinist pig, Dresden.”

OH THAT RASCALLY DRESDEN

Murphy asks why Harry was staring at her so oddly earlier but he doesn’t tell her. Boooo. Time for a dramatic chapter ending:

I would find this Nightmare, this thing that had crossed over, and destroy it.

And then I would find whoever or whatever had created it.

Unless, Harry, I thought to myself, they find you first.

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9 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Grave Peril ch. 12-13

    1. andrea harris

      I’ve noticed this thing in certain authors where their secondary characters are much more interesting and deserving of a story than their protagonists. Ayn Rand is one of these: her protaginists like John Galt tend to be cardboard mouthpieces, but her “supporting cast” characters tend to have the realistic personalities and complex situations she apparently thinks are superfluous in a proper hero. Butcher is somewhat another (though and it hurts me to say this, he is nowhere near Rand’s caliber of writing). I’m not sure how this reversal (boring hero, interesting secondary character) comes about, but editors really need to pay more attention to it.

      Reply
      1. ssellis

        I used to think of it as Disney Disease. Uncle Walt had very specific notions about what was fitting in fairy-tale heroines—sweet, gentle, meek, generally passive—which made them pretty boring vehicles for carrying a whole movie. So he had to load up the rest of the story with interesting sidekicks to keep up the narrative interest. After a while this becomes a pattern, and the dull-but-worthy protagonist is mostly used as a lens through which the audience can look at a world that’s more interesting than the hero.

        In books like this, I suspect it’s an artifact of author insertion. The protagonist is the author’s viewpoint character, so of course the author doesn’t feel the need to imagine them very fully. The character just feels natural already.

        To be fair to Disney, it’s not like he started the pattern. In standard two-couple comedies, the mouthy sidekicks have always been more interesting than the pretty leads, which is why Shakespeare switched their priority in Much Ado About Nothing and made the mouthy sidekicks the protagonists.

        Reply
      2. BadMantis

        I’ll add that, as a wannabe author myself, that it isn’t that difficult sometimes for secondary characters to outshine the protagonists in terms of personality. This is something that I’ve become aware of recently myself. Maybe because a lot of protagonists are written less as characters and more as a camera lens to watch the story unfold and only behave as the plot dictates. Another reason is that way too many protagonists are written as “The Everyman TM”, which would explain a lot of them having dull personalities. That or just author inadequacy.

        Reply
      3. andrea harris

        There’s nothing wrong with the main character being not interesting in themselves if they’re a camera lens sort of character, but if they are supposed to be (as Ayn Rand’s are) the Most Interesting People In The Book, and they really aren’t (the answer to “who is John Galt?” is “who cares?”) is where it goes wrong.

        Reply
      4. BadMantis

        That’s true, but I’m pretty sure Butcher wants us all to find his main character to be the Most Interesting Man in the World.
        And I cannot express how jubilant your answer to “Who is John Galt” makes me. (^▽^)

        Reply
  1. Pingback: Let’s Read The Dresden Files: Grave Peril ch. 10-11 | Doing In The Wizard

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