Professional wizard and private investigator, Harry Dresden, is approached by Deputy Sherriff Prescott Tremaine from the small community of Boone Mill, Missouri after the two oldest siblings in the local Talbot family die under mysterious circumstances. Pres believes the deaths may have been supernatural in nature, and hopes that Harry might be able to help. Harry discovers that the Talbots have been cursed for decades and that the remaining five Talbot siblings are in mortal danger. They're caught up in a personal dispute between a ghoul and a goblin who are engaging in a contest of skill, and because of the curse, the Talbots have become targets for the supernatural creatures. But how can Harry save the remaining Talbots when the local sheriff believes he's a charlatan and the supernatural force he hoped would help him is the referee of the game?
Ghoul Goblin is a compilation of six comic book episodes from Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series bound together into one volume. It represents one complete Dresden Files short story that falls between Fool Moon and Grave Peril in the series chronology. After reading Grave Peril, I was left with some questions as to what Harry had been up to in between the two books, and I was kind of hoping this story might fill in some of the missing pieces, but alas, that was not meant to be. However, Ghoul Goblin was still an enjoyable story in and of itself.
In this book, our intrepid private investigator and professional wizard, Harry Dresden is called away from his hometown of Chicago to investigate the mysterious deaths of two sibling in a small rural town in Missouri. The local deputy sheriff believes that the deaths may have been supernatural in nature, which is why he calls upon Harry, but Harry gets a less than enthusiastic welcome to the community. He eventually discovers that the victims were part of a cursed family, meaning their remaining five siblings are still in grave danger. The body count ends up being rather high, and although Harry eventually vanquishes their enemies, I wouldn't precisely call the ending a happy one. In fact, several lives are irrevocably changed because of the events that occur, which might account for this book having a little lower ratings than others in the series. Overall, I guess it didn't bother me too much. I still liked the story pretty well in spite of the sad circumstances.
If the story had any weakness, I would probably say it was in the backstory of the family's curse and how it related to the current supernatural events playing out within the community. I can't say I fully understood how everything tied together until I read the bonus material in the back of the book. Then it all became much clearer. I must admit too that it was interesting reading the original concept synopsis and seeing how the story evolved from that early idea into the finished product. Overall, I found the illustrations appealing and thought they enhanced the storytelling quite well. Seeing how the story is scripted and them combined with the artwork was intriguing too. I was hoping that Harry's background might be explored a little bit in this one (at one point it was looking like it might be), but unfortunately, the author was only teasing us yet again and still stringing the reader along. Aside from my minor issues, Ghoul Goblin was a satisfying read. After enjoying the two stand-alone graphic novels in this series, I'm now considering going back and reading the graphic novelizations of the first two full-length novels. I think it could be an interesting experience.
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