My sister and I listened to this on Audiobook in the car. I had to return the CDs to the library, but fortunately, they had the Playaway, so we were able to finish this. I loved James Marsters' narration. He doesn't sound a thing like Spike and I'm glad. He showed a wonderful vocal range, and he really gave life to Harry Dresden for me. He's really fantastic at accents and different inflections. He does women voices without them sounding cheesy or falsetto (which is a huge thing for me). I think I will definitely have to listen to more of these on audiobooks. My sister had never read any of this series, and she really liked this. Of course, she loves James Marsters (and Spike), so that was a good way to suck her in.
As far as the book, I really liked it. I think it could probably give this five stars if I wanted to be generous. I think the reason I didn't is because the story doesn't really wrap up to my satisfaction. I would have liked a lot more closure than I got. But it was a good follow-up to Summer Knight. Harry is a hero, but he doesn't ever seem to get that day in the sun or the resolution of his personal and private issues that you would hope for. Susan is back, and that was very cool. I think that her return was pivotal to the storyline, and the storyline in itself has a nice complexity to it in which various elements tie together very well. I can't say I was a huge fan of the Susan relationship, but it's treated well in this book, and there was a surprisingly steamy love scene that I wasn't expecting. I wonder if the author's wife is rubbing off on him (Shannon K. Butcher). I can see that there was genuine love between them, and I can't help hoping that works out in the future.
I think that Harry gains a lot of personal growth in this book, acquiring new allies along the way, and realizing that there are people who really do believe the best of him and trust him to do the right thing. I know I am seriously behind in this series, because I tend to get behind in my reading of series. I actually wasn't lost, even though it had been years since I read Summer Knight, so that was nice. He also develops more nemeses, not like he needs them. Harry really does have a kiss my butt attitude that makes people hate his guts. But those people are usually jerks, so that's okay with me.
I have heard things about Dresden being a sexist. I think listening to this on audio does reveal this flaw in his character. While I am not for sexism, I still like him a lot. I think that his sexism backfires on him because he allows his preconceived notions about women get him in trouble again and again. My hope is he will learn from his mistakes. Here's hoping. But despite this shortcoming and others, I count Harry as one of my favorite characters for many reasons. I think that even though Harry has some really obvious flaws, he's a good guy that I'm very fond of and I always look forward to spending time with him.
Like most of the books in this series, the secondary characters are great. They add so much to the read. The Knights of the Cross (including Michael), Murphy, Susan, Martin, Susan's work companion who is on the surface very mild-mannered but is really kind of like Jack Reacher, Molly (Michael's daughter), his wife who hates Harry, and not to mention some truly despicable bad guys. I loved the Archive and her bodyguard Kincaid.
I am ever a fan of authors with rich imaginations who can put that on the page in a readable fashion, and Jim Butcher has that in spades. The humor is great, and parts of these stories are genuinely scary and thrilling. And the action is top notch. I'm such a geek for urban fantasy and magic noir, this is very up my alley for that type of story.
I have most of these in paperback, but I'm thinking about going back and listening to the first books on audiobook, just for fun.
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars