Here be spoilers
This book really changed up the game for the series and I loved it for that. Changes was the turning point book, but it’s only here, in the aftermath, that we see the full extent of that.
Harry is a spirit who is charged with figuring out who killed him – except the book isn’t really about that. It’s much more about the way the world and the power dynamics we’ve grown comfortable with over the preceding 12 books has changed and how Dresden sees himself and his impact on that world from the outside.
I loved seeing our favourites from the series functioning without Dresden. Seeing Molly broken but an independent badass in her own right, using her skills creatively but in a Dresden-ish vein of keeping Chicago safe was incredible. Butters and Bob are a fantastic duo. I liked seeing Murphy struggle with Dresden’s loss and fall back into old patterns of behaviour – it seemed realistic. I also enjoyed the new characters that were introduced like Sir Stuart, Fitz and to an extent Mort. I agree with Dresden that I’m sad Dresden has so far not appreciated Mort as a person in the supernatural community!
I liked Dresden being at sea with his knowledge and powers in the new world he found himself in (Eternal Silence was awesome!). I liked him being powerless and confused for a bit. The main plots were, on closer inspection, nothing special but they both moved nicely and I enjoyed them while they were going on so no complaints there.
The one thing that stopped this book from being a 5-star for me was the long-ish sections where Dresden re-hashed his mistakes as a mortal and the choices he made in Changes. I felt like he did this a lot and didn’t cover anything new, just reiterated the same thoughts. I get that he was a spirit and this was his afterlife/coming to grips with what had happened in Changes and who he was becoming and what the consequences of his choices were, but it felt like the narrative bogged down in it a bit.
I also found the ending a bit rushed and I think that was due to how it had to be portrayed. The big battle climax had to happen early to allow Uriel to step in and explain things to Harry, but it meant that the ending for me felt like a long-ish denouement rather than a bang-up ending. Having said that, the actual ending scene was great and set up an amazing hook for the next book or few books in the series.
As always as well, shout out to James Marsters for a marsterful (I’ll see myself out…) audiobook performance. I’m tempted to go right back to the beginning and do all the books in audio just to experience them with him narrating. Amazing work.