Grave Peril by Jim Butcher is the third instalment in a lengthy adult urban fantasy series. In this volume, private investigator wizard extraordinaire, Harry Dresden, deals with his toughest situation yet. The spiritual world ends up going haywire, causing intensely dangerous havoc throughout Chicago while providing a unique opportunity for malevolent vengeful shenanigans for a familiar old acquaintance of Dresden’s.
This book was positively excruciating to get through. Normally, a three-to-four-hundred-page book, especially fantasy, takes me approximately a couple days to blow through, maybe four on my worst, rut-infested days. But Grave Peril, geez, was it a fucking trudge of frustration. Between the unnecessary and overused convoluted plot twists, the stupidity of the characters behaviours (some of which felt out-of-place), and the grotesquely outrageous objectification of women—I was ready to throw this out of my fucking window and into a trash fire where it belongs.
Let’s talk plot twists. I usually love plot twists in my fantasy narratives. They tend to keep the story interesting and can be a great reflection of an author’s unique sense of creativity. However, when those twists are pulled out of thin air merely for shock value or to force depth down the throat of a severely lacking storyline, they irritate me to no avail. I would much rather have a straightforwardly paper-thin narrative than one that strings together a bunch of nonsensical crap for the sake of meeting a particular word count. The book needed a much heavier hand at planning and structuring than it received, and it definitely shows from beginning to end.
If over-saturated plot twists aren’t enough to frustrate, then characters who behave outside of their established personas and intelligences sure as fucking hell shall, especially when the characters that are always sacrificing the integrity of their smarts are women. Half of the idiotic crap that happens in Grave Peril, including its tortuous progression, is due to the characters behaving so irrationally. Granted, Harry Dresden is a bit of a moron, but he usually thinks through his plans to an extent and thinks about the many different ways that things can go wrong. This time, his head is so far up his own arse with arrogance that it ends up causing other people around him to also behave in completely illogical ways for them. I felt like I was reading about a whole different set of folx with similar names.
But none of these things can compare to the absolutely horrendous way that Butcher writes women. There is so much more to a woman (especially a badass vampiress or strong, independent career woman) than her tits, hips, and ass and that is basically all that was focused upon whenever scenes with these ladies came up. The descriptions of their clothes and how it hugged every curve of their body, etc. etc. made up about ninety percent of the scenes with women, especially any attractive woman. If the woman was less than attractive, then the descriptives would take a whole different turn. I understand that Harry Dresden is a chauvinistic fuck-nugget of horniness, but the writing of female characters is much to be desired here. It’s disgustingly offensive. The superficial portrayal of every female and then the constant dehumanisation of their intelligence and capabilities to handle themselves in dangerous situations either due to their beauty or because of some random dude they think is cute utterly slaughtered any respect that I could ever have for this author. It honestly felt like it was written by a hormonal tweenager…
Grave Peril was hands-down the worst book that I have read in all of 2020, quite possibly in the last ten years. I’m astounded that it got published as is because the writing is terrible, especially when compared to the first two books in the series, which also aren’t the greatest thing, to be honest. I have heard that each book in the series gets better henceforth, but honestly I don’t have the energy to care enough to continue, at least not for a long time. Just no, bro. Fuck no.