Wow. There's just so much going on in this book -- so much that sets things in motion that are still shaping the series. Once a series goes on as long as this one, it's easy to mix up your internal timeline about what happens when -- this reread really exposed how much I've done for The Dresden Files. I don't know how many times I asked, "Wait, what? That happens now? I thought it was ____"
Anyway, we start this one with Harry and Michael on their way to rescue a Maternity Ward full of newborns from a ghost. It takes practically no time at all for Butcher to establish Michael, his relationship with Harry, and place in this world. I gotta say, I was shocked at how easy Butcher made that look -- a sure sign that it wasn't effortless for him. Michael is one of my first examples to use when people tell me that paladins are dull characters. I could go on about this particular Knight of the Cross, but no one has that kind of thing.
It's not just the witch in the hospital, there are angry ghosts all over town -- and much more powerful than they normally are. Something's afoot, and Harry's having some trouble figuring out what. It does seem to be targeting Harry, Murphy and some others that were with them when they took down a criminal a few months earlier.
Meanwhile, Bianca is up to something, and Harry's too distracted by the ghosts to figure it out, which will prove to be very bad. On the other hand, he meets Thomas Raith because of this -- and that's good for us readers, as much as the rest of the night his horrible for Harry.
There is just so much that goes wrong here, you have to feel sorry for Harry. Which is not to say that everything goes wrong, Harry unleashes quite a bit of magic in this one -- more than we've seen so far (because of reasons), but there are consequences for this -- consequences that it'll take years for Dresden to clean up.
Marsters . . . pick your superlative and apply it to his work here.
A lot of fun, a lot of heart, a lot of evil, a lot of pain. If this isn't where this series comes together and fulfills the promise of the premise, it's darn close.