Review/Giveaway: ‘Ghost Story’ by Jim Butcher


Ghost Story

Dresden Files #13

Author: Jim Butcher

Format: hardcover

Publisher: ROC

Release Date: 7/26/2011

Length: 477 pages

Acquired: purchased via two good friends at a book signing



The blurb from the website:

When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn’t doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn’t stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has no body, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends — and his own soul — Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic…


My thoughts, as brief (ha!) and spoiler-free as I can make them (note, definite spoilers through book #12, Changes):

I’ve mentioned before how Jim Butcher generally starts off his Dresden books with catchy lines. Book #13, Ghost Story, does not disappoint.

Life is hard. Dying’s easy.

As expected after the abrupt ending to book #12, Changes, which left many Butcher fans with an “Oh, hell no, he didn’t!” kind of attitude… Harry is dead. Oh, hell yes, he did!

As this story begins, Harry finds himself in an odd Purgatory-like Chicago. He learns he hasn’t moved on to some sort of afterlife because there was an irregularity with his death, that he died because “they cheated”. He’s told that he’s got to return to Chicago as a spirit and solve his own murder or three people he loves will come to great harm.

Nah, that’s not cryptic at all.

But Harry doesn’t have to go back to Chicago as a spirit. He could choose to do so, to return and find out who shot him, or he could choose to move on to “What Comes Next”. But there’s a catch — of course there’s a catch, there’s always a catch — once he sets out, there’s no going back to Chicagotory and there’s no moving on unless he finds his killer. If he fails to do so, he’ll be trapped as a spirit in the mortal world with no way to move on and nothing to do but slowly go insane.

Harry’s willing to take that chance in order to help his friends. His state of being may have changed, but not his priorities or his sense of obligation. One of the many traits I love in this character is his unwillingness to throw in the towel. Ever.

So Harry accepts his mission and returns as a spirit that nobody can see, with no magic and no easy means of communicating with his still-living loved ones. Harry visits an old acquaintance, the ectomancer Mortimer Lindquist who is able to communicate with spirits, and the hunt for the shooter is on.

Back at the ranch… or rather, at Murphy’s house, we meet up with the usual suspects. Murph is of course present, though dramatically different than the Karrin Murphy that left Harry on the Water Beetle to get ready for their date at the end of Changes. Also in attendance is Will, leader of the Alphas, Father Forthill from St. Mary of the Angels, Molly’s brother David Carpenter and Abby, one of the Paranet members we first met in book #10, White Night… and her little dog, too. Once Molly arrives, Murph has her own little war council or rather, her own Justice League, as Harry dubs the group.

So the gang’s all here, for the most part, and greatly changed in the time since Harry took a bullet, and then took his last swim. Harry learns that after he wiped out the Red Court, he created a power vacuum and all kinds of nasties have been attempting to fill it, meaning his friends have had their hands full fighting baddies in Harry’s absence, which has been quite a bit longer than he had known. Harry hadn’t been there to help his friends clean up the mess he had made and he was feeling somewhat guilty.

What could I do? What do you do to make up for failing everyone in your life? How do you make it right? How do you apologize for hideous things you never intended to happen?

These thoughts were a low point in the book for Harry. He’s overwhelmed with what needs to be done and feels incapable of doing much of anything but in true Harry Dresden fashion, he bucks up and faces the darkness.

My job hadn’t changed. When demons and horrors and creatures of the night prey on this city, I’m the guy who does something about it.

Harry’s usual strategy when working to take out an enemy is to bust in, blasting rod blazing and spells flying. He’s all power and strength and sheer determination.  His power is fed by emotions and some of the strongest emotions for using the kind of power Harry wields are anger, rage, and fear. He can also think his way around a problem but that usually comes after tossing around a lot of fire and sheer kinetic energy. Considering his physical state of being in this book, Harry is forced to modify the way he plans for an assault on the bad guys’ lair.

Maybe I should pause for a moment. Maybe I should think. Maybe I should reject both anger and fear and strive for an outcome beyond kicking down the door and smashing everything in my way. Play it smart. Play it responsible.

Overloading Harry with tasks is a familiar MO to readers of the Dresden Files. Mr. Butcher is fond of throwing many and varied obstacles into the path of his hero and this story is no different. As though trying to find the person that shot him wasn’t quite enough to be going on with, Harry takes on a client, helps out with the rescue of a priest, arranges yet another rescue (ok, maybe not quite so varied) of the aforementioned ectomancer from a seriously bad-ass spirit, and storms the beach at Normandy. Kind of.

Overachiever much, Harry? But of course he is, and he knows it!

Fabulous. Maybe I should make it my new slogan: Harry Dresden–I take responsibility for more impossible situations in the first twenty-four hours of being dead than most people do all day.

This book discusses memories quite a lot and stresses the power of those memories. At various points throughout the story, Harry dwells on his past a good deal more than he’s done previously in this series. We get a glimpse of the boy he was and what he experienced as an apprentice to Justin DuMorne. We see the betrayal by his master and mentor, and finally, we get to see young Harry’s first bona fide battle. It is awesome and terrible, and it sets his feet on the path to becoming the formidable wizard that goes on to eliminate not just one ancient Court of Vampires, but two.

Harry also dwells on the choices he made in Changes, regarding both Susan’s death and accepting the mantle of the Winter Knight. Our favorite wizard for hire wrestles with guilt and regret quite a lot in this book. He realizes that decisions made to do the right thing can still be wrong decisions.

Like it or not, I had embraced the darkness. The fact that I had died before I could have found myself used for destructive purposes meant nothing. I had picked up a red lightsaber. I had joined the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. I had become what I always fought.

Harry then learns that he may have been nudged a bit toward making those wrong decisions. Back to that whole, “they cheated” thing. Finally, Harry allows himself access his own memory of who shot him as well as who arranged for it to be done and why he had forgotten. He is now ready to move on, admittedly, rather anticlimactically. 

At this point, as a faithful (and possibly sobbing) reader of the series might expect or at the very least hope, Mr. Butcher introduces quite the holy shit! moment. Which is why we get to look forward to Cold Days, hopefully soon. We have yet to see a release date and unfortunately, there’s very little info regarding this 14th Dresden Files book on the author’s site but I’ll be keeping an eye out, as should you.

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Regarding the audio book format of Ghost Story: I just couldn’t buy it, couldn’t listen to it. When this book was released, I had just finished a re-listen of the first twelve Dresden Files books (plus Side Jobs) and I absolutely love listening to the audio versions of the books in this series. James Marsters has done such a spectacular job as the voice of Harry Dresden and to me, the two are synonymous with one another. Furthermore, I’m stubborn. I just couldn’t bring myself to read a Dresden book read by someone other than Marsters.

So imagine my delight when I first sat down last summer with my beautiful new hardcover and began to read… and heard Mr. Marsters remarkable voice in my head. Down to him snarling “Fuego!” and “Forzare!”. Marsters’ wonderful vocalization of Harry’s sarcasm was loud and clear and delightful. I could hear Bob’s accent and the familiar geekiness of Waldo Butters, I heard it all in beautiful inside-my-head surround sound.

I was pleased as punch, though my imagination wasn’t quite as good as hearing him actually reading would have been. I assumed that I could hear Marster’s voice so clearly in my mind because as I said, I’d just finished listening to him read the Dresden books for weeks on end. However when I re-read the book again over the last few days in order to touch up on a few points before posting this review, I could still hear him. Clear as day.

As I said, James Marsters is Harry Dresden. So while I’m sure John Glover did his best while reading this most recent book, I don’t know that I could bring myself to listen to him reading Harry. Unreasonable? Possibly. Obstinate? Certainly. But again, and I cannot stress this enough, James Marsters is Harry Dresden. At this point, I can’t listen to a Dresden Files book as read by another. Especially after seeing so many reviews filled with disappointment and frustration that Penguin didn’t wait until Mr. Marsters was available to read. As a fan of not only the series but the audio books, I’d have waited. Okay, ’nuff said on that subject but I really, really missed your voice, Mr. Marsters!


My own personal summary:

The one in which Harry: is… dead; meets the shade of Karrin Murphy’s dad; goes back to Chicago as a ghost to investigate his own murder; learns about wraiths and lemurs (lay-moors); meets a nasty old acquaintance from his dino-riding days; meets Evil Bob; realizes how long he’s been gone and what affect his death/disappearance has had on his friends; takes on a client; does a lot of soul searching; finds a fortress where the house above his basement apartment used to stand; under duress, tells Lea about his time with Justin DuMorne and his first encounter with He Who Walks Behind; manifests, thereby proving that he is insane; has a flashback to a pre-Chichen Itza convo with Molly; chats with his old pal Uriel and learns the truth about who shot him and why; finds Mouse as Maggie’s guardian (serious boo-hoo inducing chapter, that!); and has the mantle of the Winter Knight forced on him despite his efforts to the contrary.

.rand ta

Fave quotes:

‘I’d had a long, long day, battling the forces of evil, utterly destroying the Red Court, rescuing my daughter, and murdering her mother–oh, and getting shot to death. That kind of thing.’

‘Hells bells, I hate being the new guy.’

‘I screamed, emerging from the wards and onto Murphy’s front lawn, chock-full of new insight as to why ghosts are always moaning or wailing when they come popping out of somebody’s wall or floor. Not much mystery there–it freaking hurts.’

‘Interestinger and interestinger.’

‘Death is only frightening from the near side.’

‘It wasn’t like any kind of pain I’d felt before, and I’m a connoisseur when it comes to pain.’

‘Life is precious, fragile, fleeting–and Murphy’s life was one of my favorites.’

‘I was starting to get why so many ghosts seemed to be a couple of French fries short of a Happy Meal.’

‘My gast was pretty well flabbered.’

“Note to self. Look into apparent mystical anomaly later. Help your friends now.” ~Harry

‘The best thing about my faerie godmother is that the creepy just keeps on coming.’

‘It turns out ghosts can cry.’

“Wrong is wrong, even when you really, really want it not to be. I learned that one the hard way. It’s easy to do the right thing when it doesn’t cost you. Not as easy to do the right thing when your back is to the wall.” ~Harry to Fitz

‘I’d fallen victim to one of the other classic blunders, along with not getting involved in a land war in Asia and never going in against a Sicilian when death was on the line.’

‘They could kill me, but they couldn’t have me. I was my own.’

“Booya! That’s right! Who just rocked your face? Harry fucking Dresden! That’s who!” ~Harry to Evil Bob

“Hells bells. Harry, you idiot, when will you learn not to victory gloat?” ~Harry 

‘Dead or alive, Kemmler’s disciples did not play for funsies.’

“Aren’t you a little short for an archangel?” ~Harry to Uriel

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Congrats! Since you read your way through that review — or if you just scrolled through it, I suppose — you can now enter the book giveaway. I have one unread, author-signed, hardcover copy of Ghost Story to give away to one lucky commenter as a prize to celebrate my 10,000th blog view/1 year blogiversary! If you’re not a member of WordPress, just use your email address to enter a comment, it won’t be displayed publicly.

While I would greatly appreciate you sharing this blog post via the social networking site(s) of your choice, all you really need to do is leave a comment below. No quizzes or comment requirements, just tell me something you enjoyed about this book, or any of the Dresden Files! If you have yet to read the Dresden Files, let me know if you plan to start and whether any particular reviews, recommendations or something else has prompted you to pick up the series.

I will randomly choose a winner from the comments at the end of February, just be sure to leave a means of communication, be it Facebook, Twitter or email, if you know I don’t already have your contact info. Also, no location restrictions, I’m willing to ship the book via media mail to anybody, anywhere. So c’mon… comment away! And share!

Review: ‘Changes’ by Jim Butcher (audio)



Dresden Files #12

Author: Jim Butcher

Format: audio book

Publisher: Penguin Audio Books

Release Date: 4/6/2010

Length: 15 hours 28 minutes (HC is 448 pages)


Sample chapters


The blurb from the website:

Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden’s lover – until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.

Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it – against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power.

Because Harry’s not fighting to save the world…

He’s fighting to save his child.


My spoiler-riddled thoughts

Jim Butcher has the greatest opening lines for his Dresden books:

I answered the phone, and Susan Rodriguez said, “They’ve taken our daughter.”  I sat there for a long five count, swallowed, and said, “Um. What?”  “You heard me, Harry,” Susan said gently.  “Oh,” I said. “Um.”

I think those few simple words perfectly capture Harry’s utter shock at Susan’s revelation. It’s been some 8 years since Harry’s seen her and she sure never mentioned that their last encounter had produced a little bundle of joy.

Harry struggles with anger a lot during this book and it’s no wonder. He’s pissed at Susan for not telling him he was a father. He’s probably a little pissed at himself for not being there for his daughter, despite the fact that he didn’t know that she existed. And mostly, he’s phenomenally pissed at Arianna Ortega, widow of Duke Ortegaas well as the entire Red Court for having the audacity to kidnap his child in order to get at him.

Harry is ready to kick some major ass and God help anyone that gets in his way. And so Mr. Butcher commences with the destruction of Harry’s entire life.

His building is destroyed by explosives that were wired into the walls of Harry’s office, something for which he is being investigated by CPD. He learns that the Red Court intends to sacrifice the daughter he didn’t know he had as part of a curse. He seeks assistance from the White Council but finds no help there or even from his fellow Wardens. Ivy, the Archive is also unable to assist directly. His car is destroyed, his house is burned down, he’s paralyzed and an angel from Heaven above is even powerless to do anything for him.

All seems hopeless, even moreso than usual for a Harry Dresden tale. As is also usual: Harry’s pre-Hell-breaking-loose checklist.

‘Focus. Forethought. Reason. Sound judgement. That’s what was going to get me through this.

Fact one, my daughter was still in danger.

Fact two, I was hurt. Maybe badly, maybe forever. Even the efficient resilience of a wizard’s body had its limits and a broken spine was quite likely beyond them.

Fact three, Susan and Martin could not get the girl out on their own.

Fact four, there wasn’t a lot of help forthcoming. Maybe, with Sanya along, the suicidal mission could be considered only mostly suicidal… Sanya was the wielder of Esperacchius, The Sword of Hope. We needed hope right now. At least I did.

Fact five, I’d missed the rendezvous with Ebenezar many hours ago. I’d never intended to go and there was nothing I could do about the fact that he was going to be upset. But my absence had probably cost me the support of the Grey Council, such as it was.

Fact six, Sanya, Susan, Martin and whatever scanty help I could drum up couldn’t get to Chichen Itza without me and I sure as hell couldn’t get there in the shape I was in. According to the stored memories in my mother’s jewel, the Way required a swim.

Fact seven, I was going to show up for my daughter and to hell with what it would cost. And there were only so many options open to me.

I took the least terrifying one.’

And then he summons Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness, who eventually consents to bestow upon him the mantle of the Winter Knight. In a very… interesting yet terrifying way.

‘What we did wasn’t sex, regardless of what it appeared to be. You can’t have sex with a thunderstorm, an earthquake, a furious winter gale. You can’t make love to a mountain, a lake of ice, a freezing wind.’

Harry’s War Council, which consists of most of the regular players, heads out to do battle with the entire Red Court of vampires. I won’t detail the whole of the battle or the end of the book here because, as usual, Butcher skillfully and beautifully crams so much between the covers of this book that to do so would result in a massive review, such as the one I posted last summer (this is a much-revised version of that monster). The sheer amount of information and action that he includes in these stories never ceases to amaze me.

This book was just brutal to Harry. He loses his office, his car, his home… he loses his child almost as soon as he learns of her existence, and he also not only loses her mother but carries the guilt of using her to destroy his enemies. He loses his freedom by becoming the Winter Knight and worries that he’ll lose himself by doing so… and finally, when there’s almost nothing left, he loses his very life.

This was only my second time listening to this particular book in the series and I don’t remember having such strong emotional reactions to some of these scenes the first time through. I’m not sure what it is, exactly–perhaps it’s my increased familiarity with the story and the characters or my heightened appreciation for the genius of James Marsters’ reading, or both–but I found myself in tears more frequently and I cried more intensely than I did when listening to this book for the first time last year.

So, I’m caught up. Finally. And now, I can get to this beautiful book sitting next to me, #13 in the series, which is fittingly and hauntingly titled Ghost Story.

Chapter 1…


My own personal summary:

The one in which Harry: learns he’s a dad; tells Susan it’s over, for realsies; learns that the Red Court owns his building, just before they blow it up; crashes Arianna Ortega’s bullshit bid for peace in Edinburgh; flees from his basement into the Nevernever and fights a giant centipede; hides Bob and the holy swords in the Nevernever; gets arrested; sees his godmother who gives him a jewel, left in her possession by his mother; meets a god; is sad over the final destruction of the Blue Beetle; helplessly watches Thomas almost eat Molly; saves his elderly neighbors from the fire that destroys the boarding house; is paralyzed; begs an archangel for help; becomes the Winter Knight; wears armor; gets turned into a dog; learns exactly how intelligent Mouse really is; duels Duchess Ortega; saves his daughter; destroys the entire Red Court by killing new-vamp-Susan and generally hates himself for it; learns that Ebenezar is his grandfather and that the bloodline curse was primarily aimed at him; plans a date with Murphy; and… is murdered.


Fave quotes:

“Something like this will test you like nothing else. You’re going to find out who you are, Harry. You’re going to find out which principles you’ll stand by to your death–and which lines you’ll cross. You’re heading into the badlands. It’ll be easy to get lost.” ~Mac to Harry

‘”Ack!” Fearless master of the witty dialogue, that’s me.’

“I will make Maggie safe. If the world burns because of that then so be it. Me and the kid will roast some marshmallows.” ~Harry to Murphy

“Booya! What have you got for a fiery beam of death? Huh?! You’ve got nothing for a fiery beam of death! Might as well go back to Atari bug boy, ’cause YOU don’t got game enough for ME!” ~Harry to the giant centipede

‘Hells bells, I needed to stop being so arrogant.’

“Not ready for the burden of wise-assery are you.” ~Harry, in a Yoda voice, to Molly

“If we only had a wheel barrow, that would be something.” ~Harry

“Wizards don’t giggle. This is cackling.” ~Harry to Murphy

“The more I look at it, the more certain I am that I have no idea what’s going on.” ~Harry

“I met the Eebs while you three were playing with the ick… ick… with the ickcoocachoo. With the Ick.” ~Harry to Molly

“Whatever you do, do it for love. If you keep to that your path will never wander so far from the light that you can never return.” ~Uriel to Harry

‘I carefully kept myself from letting out a shriek. It would have been unwizardly.’

“I don’t think I’m temperamentally suited for the action thing.” ~Butters to Harry

“Did it hurt when you kissed Mab? Because I always thought that her lips looked so cold that they would burn like streetlamps in Winter. Oo-OOO-ooh, did your tongue get stuck to her like on that Christmastime show?” ~Toot-toot to Harry

“So. Mab. You hit that. You… tapped that ass.” ~Sanya to Harry

“Good, now we have somewhere to go, someone to rescue. This part, I know how to do.” ~Sanya to Harry

‘Hope was a force of nature.’

‘Go, go gadget Faustian bargain.’

‘I stared up at the Erl King and with my typical pithy brilliance said, “Uhhh-ohhh.”‘

“Wow. You really do have a faerie godmother.” ~Susan to Harry

‘If I was on the road to hell, at least I was going in style.’

“That bitch.” ~Mouse, referring to Lea

“Restore them before I rip your ass off. Literally rip it off.” ~Mouse to Lea

Bite me… asshole.” ~Harry to the Red King

‘I used the knife. I saved a child. I won a war. God forgive me.’

“Only so many black-hearted villains in the world and they only get uppity on occasion. Stupid’s everywhere, every day.~Ebenezar

‘The only thing certain in life is change. Most of my changes lately hadn’t been good ones.’

‘Typical. Even when you’re dead, it doesn’t get any easier.’


Check out my other Dresden Files reviews:

#1 – Storm Front

#2 – Fool Moon

#3 – Grave Peril

#4 – Summer Knight

#5 – Death Masks

#6 – Blood Rites

#7 – Dead Beat

#8 – Proven Guilty

#9 – White Night

#10 – Small Favor

#11 – Turn Coat

#12.5 – Side Jobs

#13 – Ghost Story

Review: ‘Turn Coat’ by Jim Butcher (audio)


Turn Coat

Dresden Files #11

Author: Jim Butcher

Format: audio book

Publisher: Penguin Audio Books

Release Date: 4/10/2009

Length: 14 hour 40 minutes (a 576 page paperback also resides amongst my other Dresden Files books)


Sample chapters


The blurb from the website:

The Warden Morgan has been accused of treason against the Wizards of the White Council–and there’s only one, final punishment for that crime. He’s on the run, wants his name cleared, and needs someone with a knack for backing the underdog. Someone like Harry Dresden.

Now, Harry must uncover a traitor within the Council, keep a less-than-agreeable Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under scrutiny himself. And a single mistake may cost someone his head–someone like Harry.


My spoiler-riddled thoughts:

“The Wardens are coming. Hide me. Please.” Not the words Harry would have ever expected to hear from White Council Warden Donald Morgan, who shows up at Harry’s door, bloodied and scared, and then passes out.

After Waldo Butters patches him up and he regains consciousness, Morgan tells Harry how he’s been framed for the murder of one of the Senior Council, Wizard LaFortier. They discuss the situation and both understand that it had to have been an inside job. Harry smells the Black Council all over it. He decides to help Morgan in order to stop the traitor, lest the treachery continue he possibly finds himself the victim of a future frame.

After a run to Thomas’ apartment to pick up a medical kit for Morgan, Harry senses something following him. He can’t spot a tail so he decides to take a gander with his Wizard’s Sight and boy, does he ever get an eyeful.  What he sees is so horrific, so utterly wrong, that he literally wrecks his car and staggers, sick, disoriented andcounting prime numbers all the while to keep from losing his mind, to Billy and Georgia’s nearby apartment.

After recovering, he realizes that the creature followed him and when it somehow cuts power to the entire neighborhood, Harry heads out with several of the Alphas to confront it. It doesn’t go well. The creature rips through the kids and gets away, leaving one of the Alphas dead and one near death. Harry thinks that he knows what it is, though… a skinwalker.

On his way home to finally tend to Morgan, Harry runs into Karrin Murphy. She was told of the wrecked and impounded Blue Beetle, and then heard about the power outage and the disturbance in Billy’s neighborhood, added it all together and came up with Harry Dresden. He tells her what’s been going on as she drives him home and we get a quick Murphy update to summarize the first few chapters:

“So let me get this straight, you’re hiding a fugitive from your own people’s cops, and you think the guy’s been set up in order to touch off a civil war within the White Council. And there’s some kind of Navajo boogeyman loose in town, following you around and attempting to kill you…”

Yup, that’s about it so far, Murph!

With Thomas’ help, Harry stashes Morgan, Molly and Mouse in a storage container he’s set up as an emergency bolthole and then heads to Edinburgh Scotland, via the Nevernever. He chats with Ebenezar McCoy about Morgan’s likely innocence and then seeks out Injun Joe Listens-To-Wind who’s investigating the scene of the murder. He then chats with the Merlin and offers his services in clearing Morgan’s name… so the Merlin instructs Peabody, a clerk, to hand over the file on the case to Warden Dresden. Peabody does so but Harry refuses to sign it out, he just takes it, much to the clerk’s chagrin.

Back at the ranch… erm, Harry’s basement apartment, rather… he and Murphy look over the file to see what they can see, which isn’t much. Except for the gigantic sum of money that was deposited into Morgan’s account, making it look like he was paid off to kill LaFortier. Murph suggests trying to follow the money but then Harry then gets an urgent call from his brother.

Thomas sounds frantic and tells Harry that he needs to get to the storage unit, that he can’t handle them all. The call is cut off so Harry and Murph beat it over to the storage facility where they find a whole crowd of creepy identical constructs which Harry refers to as grey suits and later on, as grey men (no, not those Gray Men) being controlled by a practitioner called Binder. Binder has apparently been hired to find Morgan and has tracked him to the area. Working together, Molly and Morgan manage to circle him and cut him off from the Nevernever so that the constructs fail and he’s alone… and then Murphy takes him down and cuffs him. She waits for the cops while Harry, Morgan, Molly and Mouse beat it out of there.

They discuss how they might have been found and Molly points out that they knew Morgan was in the vicinity but not which storage unit so they decide to go back to Harry’s place in order to reacquire the apparently non-magical tail that they seem to have picked up. Harry’s hoping to find out who hired Binder by first finding out who’s tailing him. With a little help from Toot-toot, who’s now a foot tall Harry finds a PI in the building across the street. Molly comes through with the assist and discovers that the PI was hired by a law firm. Harry goes a’calling. Only he discovers that the lawyer who did the hiring has had her mind tampered with, by a female White Court vampire. Hmmm, let me see… an ancient, evil skinwalker (which is essentially shape-shifter that can veil itself) and the Black Council together are a kind of a walk in the park for Harry so, I know! Let’s toss in some vampires to spice this plot up a bit!

Harry returns home to find Luccio at his apartment and poor Morgan gets his cold, hard Warden heart broken when he realizes that Luccio and Harry are involved. His reaction is actually kind of touching and sad. And then, oh yeah, you remember what an ass he can be and you get over it.

Harry takes Luccio along to meet with Lara Raith, thinking that she must have hired the lawyer that hired the PI that… well, you know. It’s rather obvious from their conversation that she’s not responsible and she takes the opportunity to dress down Harry and the White Council in general for a moment before alarms start going off. Chateau Raith is under attack. And Harry realizes that it’s the skinwalker. Oh, boy.

The skinwalker, henceforth known as Shagnasty, pretty much rips Harry, Lara and everyone else a new one before getting down to the nitty gritty. He tells Harry that he has Thomas and offers to trade him for the doomed warrior. Great, the bloody skinwal– erm, Shagnasty wants Morgan, too. That guy knows how to piss people off, alright.

Before heading out to figure out just how the hell he might orchestrate the rescue of his brother, a wounded and drugged Justine talks with Harry within Luccio’s hearing. She says enough that Luccio is able to deduce that Thomas is Harry’s brother and then reveals to Harry that she knew their mother.

Harry visits Murphy at SI headquarters where she’s holding Binder. She releases him and Harry’s newly hired PI (who quit the job tailing Harry because he wasn’t into the attempted murder thing) follows Binder to a hotel. Harry arrives and overhears Binder speaking to Madeline Raith who mentions that she tipped the Council off to Morgan’s whereabouts.

Great. So much for having time to solve the case. The clock, as they say, is now ticking and Harry is feeling a bit overwhelmed. He thinks at this point, ‘Maybe it was time to admit it, this one was too big for me. It had been from the very start.’ 

Harry formulates a plan and decides to move Morgan to the Water Beetle. They head out to the creepy island in Lake Michigan on which the Denarians held Marcone and Ivy in Small Favor. Harry leaves Murph on the mainland but they have a very touching conversation before he goes. Knowing the events at the end of Changes actually makes this little chat a lot more heart-wrenching than it was the first couple of times I read it!

On the island, Harry leaves Morgan and Molly on the boat and travels to the broken down tower on top of the hill. There, he performs a sanctum invocation to create a bond with the land, which he isn’t sure he will survive. But he does. As he later described it to Wizard Rashid of the Senior Council, he punched the spirit of the island, which is a genius loci, in the nose and now they’re friends. He names the island Demonreach and when he is on the island, he has access to the island’s latent energy which will give his own spells a bit of an extra punch. He also seems to have developed an awareness of anything and everything on the island, provided he is there.

Harry heads back to the mainland to take care of a few details in order to set his plan into motion. One such detail is calling the White Council to tell them he’s got Morgan and that he’ll be on the island at sundown, with a witness that can testify to Morgan’s innocence. He then calls Lara Raith who tells him that the money in Morgan’s account came from a dummy corporation owned by the Raith family. Lara realizes that her cousin, Madeline Raith is responsible and is working for someone that’s trying to play the White Council against the White Court. Harry invites her along for the festivities on the island that evening, too.

Harry has also arranged for Shagnasty to be informed at the opportune time that Morgan is on the island and that Harry will trade him for Thomas. His hope is that with a little help from his fellow wizards and a few White Court vamps, he’ll be able to take out the skinwalker, thereby rescuing his brother without tipping the Council to the fact that they’re related. It was actually rather fortuitous that Madeline Raith betrayed her cousin and their house, it gave Harry the excuse of bringing Lara in to declare her innocence and demand the return of her brother.

But nothing ever goes as planned, does it? At least not as planned by Harry. Ah, well… you know what they say about the best laid plans of Mouse and grey men… and wizards.

Ebenezar, Ancient Mai and Injun Jo Listens-to-Wind arrive at Demonreach via boat, several Wardens in tow -not literally, they were actually aboard the boat- to arrest Harry. They pause when Lara Raith and her sisters pop in and Lara makes a show of blaming Harry for her brother’s abduction. Harry then senses dozens of beings arriving on the island and realizes that Madeline and Binder have arrived, and that Binder has summoned gray men from the Nevernever. A lot of them.

As if that weren’t enough, Harry senses more arrivals and concludes that the traitor has taken the bait… and he’s brought a hell of a lot of friends. The  wizards and the vamps form a temporary alliance and rush to meet their attackers. A frenzied battle ensues. I won’t detail that battle here but it features werewolves, a crispy vamp, giant spiders and pixies. It’s a pretty damn good battle. You should read it. Chapter 42, page 417 in the paperback.

Battle, fighting, fire, blood, etc., and the time eventually comes when Harry senses that Shagnasty has arrived on the island with Thomas. It heads uphill to the tower and Harry races to beat him to the top because Morgan and Molly are holed up inside the little cottage near the tower. Another furious battle ensues, between Harry and Shagnasty. Harry actually holds his own for a little bit and then Toot-toot is there, attacking the creature, brave and stupid as he can be. After poor Toot is swatted out of the air and lands in some bushes, Listens-to-Wind shows up… and proceeds to kick the skinwalker’s ass. Which. Absolutely. Rocks.

With foes fled or defeated, Thomas rescued but taken by Lara, and no traitor outed, Harry, Molly and Mouse, head to Edinburgh for Morgan’s trial. Harry has a picture provided by his PI (say that three times fast) of a White Council member that traveled the Way through the Nevernever and had no business being in Chicago the previous evening… so he presents his photographic evidence and is scoffed at, as expected.

But then Mouse testifies. As such. He growls at the White Council clerk and Harry states that Mouse smelled him when he entered Chicago from the Nevernever the previous evening. Ancient Mai, among others, attests to the fact that Mouse is a genuine Foo dog and so his word… or his growl rather, is taken as testimony and the traitor is found.

And then he escapes.

The Merlin shows off a bit of his own badassery by organizing the Council, sending Harry after Peabody and fending off the wicked killer mist that Peabody had unleashed upon the assembled wizards before fleeing. Harry catches him but is unable to best him and is surprised by the arrival of Morgan who saves Harry’s life yet again when he shoots Peabody in the head. Twice. Wizards follow the double tap rule, too.

Morgan, sadly, doesn’t survive his wounds and massive blood loss, but expresses his thanks in a roundabout way and tells Harry the truth: Luccio killed LaFortier and that he was trying to protect his old master and mentor… the woman he loved.

It turns out that Peabody had been messing with a whole bunch of minds of the members of the White Council. He was responsible for Luccio’s actions and so she had absolutely no memory of the murder she had committed. She also wasn’t aware of what Morgan had done for her. Sadly, Peabody was even responsible for her relationship with Harry so that she could keep close tabs on him and Harry endured a rather uncomfortable Luccio breaking it off with him after they’d both recovered somewhat from their wounds.

To Harry, the most devastating casualty of the whole conflict was the end of his brother’s attempt to rein in his hunger. Thomas’ torture at the hands of the skinwalker was utterly devastating to him and it destroyed his inhibitions about feeding heavily upon and even killing humans. He now only sees people as food, food, food. Harry is horrified but promises to give Thomas time and space even though Thomas doesn’t see his new attitude as being a problem. He’s accepted his demon. Embraced it, even.

Harry also saw a bit of an entry in Ebenezar’s journal regarding Harry and Demonreach. It alludes to the fact that the island is more than an island and that it involves a mantle that he wouldn’t mind seeing Harry take up. Then it says, “I trust his judgement. Then again, I trusted Maggie’s, too.” Just a couple of morsels to nibble on until we find out from a future book what the hell all of that means!

All in all, Turn Coat was yet another action-packed Dresden Files adventure. There are so many things happening, not just in this book but in this leg of the series, that it’s somewhat difficult to keep it all straight! This is one reason I include spoilers galore in these write-ups, so that later on, I can read through them and actually remember the events of the books.

Next in the line-up is book #12, Changes. I’ve only listened to this book once, when it was released last year… so if you think my last couple of Dresden reviews are long, I apologize in advance for the next one. Of course, the next installment in the series–#13, Ghost Story–was released two days ago but I won’t be listening to the audio. Instead, I’ll be reading the hardcover in a couple of weeks, so that review take a little while to be published.

And now, Mr. Marsters… you may begin.


My own personal summary:

The one in which Harry: discovers a wounded Donald Morgan at his door and then hides him from the Wardens who are after him for the murder of a member of the Senior Council; encounters a Nagloshi Skinwalker which kills one of the Alphas; visits a kinky vamp club where Thomas beats the crap out of his cousin; travels to White Council headquarters in Ediburgh, Scotland via the Nevernever; makes an offer to the Merlin to find the real killer and clear Morgan’s name; hires a PI; performs a Sanctum invocation on the creepy island from Small Favor, survives and comes away with some kind of bond with the island which he names Demonreach; arranges a meeting of Senior Council members and White Court vamps on Demonreach to simultaneously draw out and expose the White Council traitor and rescue Thomas from the skinwalker; takes Mouse to wizard court as a witness; joins a secret wizard group; gets dumped; and introduces Butters to the Alphas.


Fave quotes:

“He was wrong. It doesn’t make him a villain. It just makes him an asshole.” ~Harry to Butters, about Morgan

“Oh, bite me wizard boy.” ~Butters to Harry

‘You can’t abandon life just because it’s scary, and just because sometimes you get hurt.’ 

‘Sometimes irony is a lot like a big old kick in the balls.’

“Madeline, go away before I beat you to death with my bare hands.” ~Thomas to his cousin, Madeline Raith

“You… are… vastly irritating.” ~Morgan to Harry

‘How the hell was I supposed to do the right thing, if there wasn’t a right thing?’

“If a revolver was good enough for Indiana Jones, it’s good enough for me.” ~Harry to Murphy

“If you knew half the things I’ve done that you think are impossible, you’d already be running.” ~Harry to Binder

“You’re a real humanitarian. A regular Mother Theresa.” ~Harry to Lara Raith

“Murph, you’re one hell of a dame.” ~Harry

“I swear. I swear to God, Morgan, if you don’t explain yourself, I’m going to strangle you dead with my own hands and drag your corpse back to Edinburgh by the balls.” ~Harry

“I feel less left out now that I know someone might kill me anyway.” ~Murphy

“I’d rather have you covering my back than anyone in the world, Karrin. You might be the best friend I ever had.” ~Harry

‘Fire erupted in an explosion that lifted the skinwalker another dozen feet into the air, tumbling tail over teakettle, an expression that makes no goddamn sense whatsoever, yet seemed oddly appropriate to the moment.’

“Don’t plan to bind you or banish you old ghost, just gonna kick your ass up between your ears.” ~Injun Joe to Shagnasty

“This is Waldo Butters, and his geek penis is longer and harder than all of ours put together.” ~Harry to Will and Georgia


Check out my other Dresden Files reviews:

#1 – Storm Front

#2 – Fool Moon

#3 – Grave Peril

#4 – Summer Knight

#5 – Death Masks

#6 – Blood Rites

#7 – Dead Beat

#8 – Proven Guilty

#9 – White Night

#10 – Small Favor

#12 – Changes

#12.5 – Side Jobs

#13 – Ghost Story

Review: ‘Small Favor’ by Jim Butcher (audio)


Small Favor

Dresden Files #10

Author: Jim Butcher

Format: audio book

Publisher: Penguin Audio Books

Release Date: 1/14/2009 (original release date: 4/1/2008)

Length: 13 hour 49 minutes (a 541 page paperback also resides amongst my other Dresden Files books)


Sample chapters


The back cover blurb:

Wizard Harry Dresden’s life finally seems to be calming down. The White Council’s war with the vampiric Red Court is easing up, no one’s tried to kill him lately, and his eager apprentice is starting to learn real magic. For once, the future looks fairly bright.

But the past casts one hell of a long shadow.

Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, calls in an old favor from Harry. Just one small favor he can’t refuse–one that will trap Harry Dresden between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, and strain his skills and loyalties to their very limits.

And everything was going so well for once…


My spoiler-riddled thoughts:

Nearly a year after the end of White Night, Harry is conducting a lesson with Molly Carpenter in her parents’ back yard. Kids are throwing snowballs, Harry is chatting amiably with Charity Carpenter, all is well and all is well. And then it’s not.

Harry, Charity and the kids are attacked by creatures Harry’s never seen before. The whatsits, as he thinks of them, go after the kids to distract Harry so another of them can sucker punch him. He manages not to get killed but does manage to get his nose broken which of course gives him two black eyes, leading everyone he meets throughout the rest of the book to ask what happened to him, which makes for some amusing dialogue. Charity Carpenter turns out to be the hero of the tussle, killing a whatsit with a nail gun and a hammer. The rest of the whatsits flee. Faeries… they don’t like the iron so much.

A little research and Harry learns that the creatures were gruffs and that they’re agents of Summer. Harry can’t figure out why Summer would send hitters after him but as the book progresses, he’s pursued by increasingly older brothers of the first gruffs. It gets… interesting.

In the meantime, Murphy calls him in on a case involving a building which had been blown apart and Harry soon realizes that the destruction involved magic. LOTS of magic. In order to try and figure out what might have occurred, Harry calls upon Toot-toot the pixie to help him gather some information about what any little folk in the area may have seen. Toot returns almost immediately and tells Harry to run. When a pixie thinks something is more important than a donut, it’s wise to heed their advice. Harry runs but soon becomes lost in a whiteout… and realizes that he’s not alone.

Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness has popped in from the Nevernever to ask a little favor of Harry. He still owes her two favors since he took her case in book #4, Summer Knight and should have the option of refusing when she asks. Only this time, he’s given little choice but to do what she wants, which is for him to be her emissary in a delicate matter of kidnapping. Or mob-boss-napping, seeing how it’s Johnny Marcone who was forcibly taken from the destroyed building, which he owns and was apparently using as a safe house earlier that night. Mab wants Harry to find Marcone and since it’s in Harry’s best interest to do as she bids, he takes the case.

Having just become an emissary of Winter, Harry is almost immediately threatened with a shotgun to the head by none other than the Summer Knight. Fix is worried that Harry’s actually taken up the mantle of the Winter Knight and is intensely relieved to find that Harry has done no such thing. Still, it rather pisses Harry off to be so threatened by his friend. Throw in the fact that Fix didn’t warn him about the gruffs and Harry’s quite testy, though he quickly comes to realize that Fix is once again under compulsion not to reveal certain information to Harry. Fix does manage to drop a hint about the oak leaf pin given to Harry by Lily, the Summer Lady, at the end of book #8, Proven Guilty and Harry surmises that the gruffs have been using the pin to track him. Useful information to have, which allows him to get the gruffs off his back for awhile in order to concentrate on Marcone.

The first order of business toward that end is to find Hendricks and Gard, who were with Marcone when he was taken. When Harry, accompanied by his brother Thomas, finds them however, he also finds a bunch of Denarians trying to kill them and/or kidnap them. Of course! Harry wasn’t having enough of a bad time with the friggin’ billy goats gruff trying to kill him and then Mab freezing his eyeballs to make him agree to doing her a favor… he’s now got to deal with more Denarians! Quite a lot more than he faced in book #5, Death Masks. Great. Fantastic. It’s the typical ‘shit flying at Harry from all sides without cease‘ kind of plot but then by this point in the series, we expect no less from a Dresden book!

Amazingly, this new bunch of Denarians actually try to cut a deal with Harry and convince him to let them take Marcone’s people, promising to leave him alone in return. Like that would ever happen. Either Harry cutting a deal with them or them keeping a promise! Harry declines and manage to escape with Thomas, Hendricks and a badly injured Gard and they head to Michael’s house, hoping the Denarians won’t know to look there for them. Upon arriving at Michael’s house, they find Sanya, who is stuck in the city by the heavy snowfall. Harry then succeeds in enlisting the help of the two remaining Knights of the Cross, who join his cause in an effort to offset, and hopefully to permanently diffuse the Denarian threat.

Harry calls in the White Council to assist with the negotiations for the return of Marcone (since he’s a signatory of the accords), and requests that they bring in the Archive to mediate. Harry’s worked with Ivy before and is perhaps a bit too fond of her, according to Captain Luccio of the Wardens. Harry is indeed fond of the child Archive which means that he gets REALLY pissed when the Denarians, led by Nicodemus, kidnap her, too. It would seem that kidnapping Marcone was just a ploy to prompt Harry to call in the Archive so that they could take her and force her to take up a coin. Yeah. Things, they aren’t going so well.

So… Harry plans an assault on the Denarians, under the guise of a trade: 11 captured coins representing over a third of the Fallen, and the sword Fidelacchius in trade for Marcone and Ivy. The only problem is that Denarians are holding their prisoners on an island on Lake Michigan–in blizzard conditions, mind–and they’ve got an unknown number of minions backing them up. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose. BUT, Harry gets Ivy and Marcone off the island, as well as Sanya and Michael… though when he last sees the latter, his old friend has just been peppered with automatic machine gun fire. And he’s not moving.

And so the time comes for Harry’s checklist, which are fantastic ways to sum things up for a review… so thanks for these, Mr. Butcher!

‘I seized the hilt of Fidelacchius from where the sword had fallen. As my fingers closed around the weapon I realized several points of cold logic, as if having them explained to me by a calm, rational, wise old man who was utterly unperturbed by my rage.

First, I realized that I was now alone on an uncharted island in the middle of Lake Michigan, with nothing but mad men and fallen angels for company.

Second, that I still had the coins and the sword that Nicodemus had been after–and that he was still going to be after them.

Third, that the Denarians were sure to be really ticked off, now that I’d taken their real prize from them.

Fourth… The ground shook, as with the impact of a heavy foot.

Fourth, that since I had confounded Summer’s attempt to track me via use of the little oak leaf pin, Eldest Brother Gruff had probably been waiting for me to use fire magic again in battle–the same magic that I had entwined with the power of the Summer Lady two years ago at Arctis Tor. It was the most probable reason why Mab, the most likely suspect for messing with my head, would have taken my blasting rod and my memories of how to use fire magic in battle–to prevent me from inadvertently revealing my position to Summer every time I got into a tussle. Only now that I had, Eldest Gruff was probably on his way to visit.

And fifth, and last, I realized that I had no way to get off this stupid and creepily familiar island–unless I could get down to the docks and to the boat I’d come in on.’

Before he can do so, he’s accosted by first the Eldest Brother Gruff, who rips apart a Denarian like it’s a firggin’ teddy bear, and then Daddy Denarian, Nicodemus who laughingly thinks that Lasciel is still around. Of course Harry survives both encounters, but I’ll not divulge exactly how he did either. This book is worth reading–or listening to, since James Marsters is as fantastic as ever in his reading–just for those two awesome scenes!

The book ends on a rather worrying note as we’re left wondering at the fate of Michael Carpenter. One thing is clear, if he survives, he’ll not wield Amoracchius again and the sword is given into Harry’s possession with the same directive as he was given along with Fidelacchius, that he would know who to give it to.

And so ends my review of book #10…  I left quite a lot out but we all know how wordy I get so I thought it best to stop here! I’m hoping to have books 11 and 12 listened to and reviewed by the end of the week(…end… ish). Apologies for not getting them finished in time for tomorrow’s release of book #13, Ghost Story, but it kind of worked out for me since I’ll not acquire my own signed and personalized copy of the new book *insert fangirl squee* until next week at the soonest. Can. Not. Wait!


My own personal summary:

The one in which Harry: is being hunted by the billy goats gruff; gets a favor called in by Mab; sets out to rescue Johnny Marcone at Mab’s behest; gets tangled up with the Denarians–again; calls in the Archive to mediate the release of Baron Marcone from said Denarians; discovers that Sanya, in addition to Shiro, was descended from kings; guilts out over Ivy getting Archive-napped by the Denarians; gets wooed once again by Nicodemus; realizes that his friends don’t wholly trust him and then realizes that someone has literally been screwing with his mind; sets Molly to researching her family tree, which leads her to discover that Michael is descended from Charlemange; tells Murphy about Lash; rescues Ivy and Marcone from an eerily familiar and creepy island; cashes in his boon from Summer and orders a donut from the Eldest Brother Gruff; discovers that a Denarian has been working for the Black Council; cusses out God in the hospital chapel; chats with an archangel which sounds quite a lot like Ebenezar McCoy (!); gets the bejesus scared out of him–again–by Mab; learns that Bob is considered dangerous by the Wardens, and that they think he’s been destroyed; realizes that he’s been granted the power of Soulfire; and has a hot date with Luccio.


Fave quotes:

I’ve always admired your ability to be unilaterally irritating.” ~Bob to Harry

‘I gritted my teeth and tried to summon up a salvo of snark.’

‘…my curiosity took the opportunity to sucker punch terror while confusion had it distracted.’

‘Whew. My banter gland had not gone necrotic.’

‘It’s amazing what you can get used to if your daily allowance of bizarre is high enough.’

‘A sensitive guy might have been hurt by that remark. Good thing I’m me.”

“I’m freaking adorable. Especially with the raccoon face I’ve got going here.”~Harry to Torelli

“You… are so hot right now.” ~Harry to Murphy

“I’m in. From here on out. You obviously need somebody to protect you from the big, bad billy goats.” ~Murphy to Harry

‘”Heh?I said wittily.’

“You’ve invented a doll that turns people into their ugly half-brothers, eh?” ~Thomas to Harry

“Look, big guy, I’ve had a tense couple of days and I’ve got to tell  you, burning someone’s face off sounds like a great way to relax.” ~Harry

“Lassie would have given a clear, concise warning. One bark for gruffs, two barks for Nickel-heads. ~Harry to Mouse

“You said it, Chewie. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” ~Harry to Mouse

“I followed the trail of smitten fiends. Smitten fiends? Smited fiends? Smoted fiends? Don’t look at me, I never finished high school.” ~Harry

“If you make me choose between you and Luccio, I’m pretty sure I know who I’m going to bid ‘aloha’.” ~Harry to Kincaid

“Punctuality is for people with nothing better to do.” ~Harry

“That’s the problem with you nearly immortal types. You couldn’t spot a pop culture reference if it skittered up and implanted an embryo in your esophagus.” ~Harry to Rosanna


Check out my other Dresden Files reviews:

#1 – Storm Front

#2 – Fool Moon

#3 – Grave Peril

#4 – Summer Knight

#5 – Death Masks

#6 – Blood Rites

#7 – Dead Beat

#8 – Proven Guilty

#9 – White Night

#11 – Turn Coat

#12 – Changes

#12.5 – Side Jobs

#13 – Ghost Story

Review: ‘White Night’ by Jim Butcher (audio)


White Night

Dresden Files #9

Author: Jim Butcher

Format: audio book

Publisher: Penguin Audio Books

Release Date: 4/23/09 (original release date: 4/3/07)

Length: 14 hours 13 minutes (a 452  page paperback also resides amongst my other Dresden Files books)



The back cover blurb:

Someone is targeting the city’s magic practitioners, the members of the supernatural underclass who don’t possess enough power to become full-fledged wizards. Many have vanished. Others appear to be victims of suicide. But the murderer has left a calling card at one of the crime scenes–a message for Harry Dresden, referencing the book of Exodus and the killing of witches.

Harry sets out to find the killer before he can strike again, but his investigation turns up evidence pointing to the one suspect he cannot possibly believe guilty: his half brother, Thomas. Determined to bring the real murderer to justice and clear his brother’s name, Harry attracts the attention of the White Court of vampires, becoming embroiled in a power struggle that renders him outnumbered, outclassed, and dangerously susceptible to temptation.

Harry knows that if he screws this one up, a lot of people will die–and one of them will be his brother.


My spoiler-riddled thoughts, helped along by a few quotes from the book:

The problem with waiting for weeks after finishing a book to write the review is that some tidbits of the story tend to get lost in the haze of memory. It’s especially bad when a procrastinating reviewer picks up the next book in the series because they simply cannot wait to dive into another piece of Harry’s world. I’m a bad reviewer. I’ve said it before and I’m reiterating that glaring personal fault yet again. I’m trying to remedy this gross oversight in my book reviewing repertoire and in doing so, hope that I don’t mangle this review… because this was SUCH a good book and SO much happens, as is pretty much run-of-the-mill for Dresden Files books, especially those written later in the series. But I must get it finished and you know what they say about liking the present and something about not having time. Or something.

Whatever the case, I’m finally battening down the hatches and getting down to the nitty gritty. Partly because this book deserves its moment here on my blog and partly because I still have THREE more Dresden Files books to listen to and then review before book #13 in the series, Ghost Story is released. In a week. I will NOT be waiting to pick it up because I have unfinished reviews on my plate. Or in my blog. Nosiree… Sadly, I won’t be able to download the audio and listen to the masterful reading of James Marsters as I have with every other book in this series, since he was unable to do this book. *insert hysterical fangirl sobbing here* I vow that I will not buy the audio unless until it’s released being read by Mr. Marsters, who is the voice of Harry Dresden. The hardcover will have to suffice for the nonce and I’ll have to imagine Marsters’ voice in my head, which shouldn’t be too terribly difficult, as I’ve listed to him read this series multiple times. Now, enough of my mewling and blathering… on with the review!

So, we begin this 9th installment of Butcher’s popular Dresden Files series with an unusual case. As if Harry ever has normal cases. It’s off the books as SI has had budget cuts and the recently demoted Sergeant Murphy is stubbornly paying Harry’s fee out of her own pocket. Chicago PD has investigated several apparent suicides but Murphy wants Harry’s take and of course, he finds magical evidence that the latest suicide was indeed, murder.

In fact, it seems as though the murderer specifically wanted Harry’s attention but in taking this case, Harry is dragged into a power struggle within the White Court of vampires. Now I’ve seen a few reviews and comments that criticize Mr. Butcher for the ongoing vampire war and politics storyline. It would seem that some people just want a monster of the week type series with no deep thinking or intrigue. Me? I eat this stuff up. I personally feel that with all of the added drama and plots that run through multiple books, Butcher is able to add so many facets to the story that make the series more enjoyable, in my opinion.

Enough about that, however. Back to it.

Harry’s inquiries lead him to an order of local magic practitioners, none strong enough to be on the White Council, who have dubbed themselves the Ordo Lebes, or the Order of the Cauldron. Cauldron… large cooking pot. Whichever translation you prefer. The women in the Ordo are terrified that whoever is killing their peers will eventually get them all so they’ve hired someone to help protect them. That someone is none other than Elaine Mallory, one-time student of Harry’s former teacher, Justin DuMorne and Harry’s first love. He also finds another old acquaintance with the group. One Helen Beckitt, first (and last) seen in the first book of the series, Storm Front. Knowing what he does about Helen, he automatically suspects her.

However, Harry hears evidence pointing to the killer possibly being a Warden of the White Council so he’s doubly motivated to find who’s to responsible for the deaths and stop them. Wait, make that triply motivated as Harry discovers that one of the victims most likely died at the hands of a White Court vampire and then sees a security camera image of the latest missing woman in the company of a White vamp he knows very well: Thomas Raith.

He tries to find Thomas and discovers a room in his brother’s swanky new apartment which contains something that could be very damning: information on all of the victims, including pictures that were obviously taken before the police had arrived. Harry is determined to solve the case and find the killer, thus clearing the Wardens AND his brother, but… there are a few things standing in his way. Namely, his pal and Thomas’ cousin, Madrigal Raith from Proven Guilty. Yes, he’s back, he’s brought friends and he’s got a bone to pick with Harry. What bad guy doesn’t?

In his pursuit of the truth of this case, Harry utilizes Little Chicago (in a typically bad-ass Harry Dresden kind of way) to follow a suspect and learns that he’s got a couple of suspects. He then tracks Thomas using his pentacle amulet, which is the twin of Thomas’, and finds his brother hiding several women and children on a boat called the Water Beetle. As it turns out, Thomas is not the killer but Harry’s frustrated that Thomas had knowledge of the murders and didn’t share the information with him. Told you there would be spoilers, hope you’ve read the book!

So Thomas is innocent and much relief ensues but as they discuss getting the women and children to a safe house, they’re attacked by Madrigal Raith and a gaggle of ghouls. No, Professor Lockhart wasn’t present, don’t get your ‘wizards named Harry’ mixed up this late in the game. While fleeing the boat and certain death in a grotesque and gory way, Harry is shot in the back. He’s wearing his warded leather duster and so isn’t killed but he does fall stunned into the depths of Lake Michigan. He essentially blacks out and has a flashback to a ghoul attack on a boot camp for trainee Wardens the previous summer in New Mexico.

Harry survives, of course and gets back to the business of solving this latest in a series of bizarre cases. He takes stock of what he knows and sums things up:

The facts, man. Just the facts. Fact 1: Male operatives of House Scavis and House Malvora had been engaging in murders that attempted to frame the Wardens as the perpetrators. Fact 2: House Raith, their nominal superior led by the White King, sort of, had pursued a policy of armistice with the White Council. Fact 3: That dippy twit Madrigal jumped into the deal on Malvora’s side, pitching in a murder or two of his own, evidently to attract my attention. Fact 4: Thomas, though aware of the lethal intentions of his fellow White Court vampires, had shared nothing of it with me. Fact 5: The victims had been women of magical talent, universally.

Harry has several more facts to think on but these five are enough to clue him in to what’s really going on -that the whole thing has just been a play for power within the White Court, to undermine the peace talks between the White Court and the White Council as well as to cull the herd, so to speak, of magical practitioners. So Harry plans… a counter attack, if you will. I love this bit of conversation between Harry and Murph regarding what Harry’s going to do about the division in the White Court and the possible implications of an alliance between the Whites and the Reds: “You have a plan,” she stated. “I have a plan.” “What’s the plan, Harry?” I told her. She looked at me for a second and then said, “You’re crazy.” “Be positive, Murph! You call it crazy, I call it unpredictable.”

Before marching forth into battle and almost certain death, Harry has a chat with the shade of Lasciel about change. Harry mentions to Lash that he’s been angrier since she showed up and wonders if she might know why that is. “I told you once before, my host,” the shadow said, “you are easier to talk to when you are asleep.” Which was just chilling, taken in that context. Everyone has that part of them that needs to be reined in. It’s that little urge you sometimes feel to hop over the edge of a great height when you’re looking out from a high building. It’s the immediate spark of anger you feel when someone cuts you off and makes you want to run your car into that moron. It’s the flash of fear in you when something surprises you at night, leaving you quivering with your body primed to fight or flee. Call it the hind brain, the subconscious, whatever, I’m not a shrink. But it’s there. And it’s real. Mine wore a lot of black even before Lasciel showed up. Like I said, chilling.

Harry goes on to tell Lash that she can chat up his subconscious all she wants, that it’s not going to do her any good, that he’ll never take up the coin. In  the meantime, those conversations with his other self may have elicited changes in her, also. He points out to her that she is but a copy of Lasciel, the fallen angel and that who she’s become while existing outside of her whole self will die once taken back into herself.  Harry tries to explain to her that she could exist as her own ‘person’ as she is, that she has a choice. He tells her, “Lash, just because you start out as one thing, it doesn’t mean you can’t grow into something else,” which drives her away, prompting him to get back to the problem at hand. ‘Get your head in the game, Harry. Defeat the whole damn White Court now, worry about taking on Hell later.’

So Harry is set to take on the murderers he’s been tracking who also happen to be card carrying members of the White Court. He calls in fellow Warden, Carlos Ramirez to give him a hand and Carlos sums the situation up rather nicely: “We’re going to stomp into the middle of a big meeting of the White Court, call a couple of them murderers, challenge them to a duel, and kill them right in front of all of their friends and relatives, right?”

And that’s just what they do. It… doesn’t go well. Harry and Ramirez kick ass but then all hell breaks loose, as hell tends to do. The extraction Harry had pre-arranged with his old frenemy (yeah, I hate that word, too… but it’s rather spot on in this case!) Gentlemen Johnny Marcone turns into a bigger operation than was intended, and so pretty much everyone but Harry and Lara Raith are rescued. Harry’s subjected to a psychic attack by a White vamp and is only saved by the intervention of Lash, who essentially sacrifices herself to save Harry. Lasciel the fallen angel is still around, imprisoned in the coin, but Lash, the bit of her that had been riding around in Harry’s head, is now gone. Harry manages to save Lara Raith’s life and blows the shit out of most of what’s left of the White Court. I didn’t do this scene justice but this review is already over long so I thought I’d paraphrase a bit.

The end of the book finds Harry retrieving the buried coin of Lasciel from its grave in his basement and surrendering it to Father Forthill. Finally, dust settled and all, he follows Thomas to learn how he’s earning his living and feeding, which gives a rather lighthearted ending to what was quite an involved and heavy storyline.

Up to this point, I think that each book I’ve just finished is my favorite of the series but then I read the next one and I’m not so sure. I think that Butcher just improves this story so much with each installment and adds so many plot twists and interesting characters to the line-up that as a reader and a huge fan, I just can’t help but love the series more with each book and I’m so excited for Ghost Story!


My own personal summary of the book:

The one in which Harry: takes a case in which women who commit suicide are actually being murdered; finds an old acquaintance from book 1 with a group of witches; begins to suspect his brother of being a serial killer; uses his new and improved shield bracelet, which is pretty bad-ass; uses Little Chicago for some seriously cool surveillance; runs into Elaine… again; gets shot in the back; has a flashback to a ghoul attack at Luccio’s Warden Boot Camp in New Mexico; soul gazes Helen Beckitt and sees her daughter’s death; scares the shit out of his apprentice, Molly Carpenter, who keeps veiling herself and following him; mounts a pretty ballsy assault on the White Court; saves Lara Raith’s life; loses the shade of Lasciel, which (whom?) he had dubbed Lash; surrenders Lasciel’s coin to Father Forthill; follows Thomas and learns the secret of his feeding and source of income… aaand pokes a bit of fun.


Fave quotes:

“Do all wizards whine this much?” ~Murphy

‘We fled. I’m not too manly to admit it. We scampered, retreated, vamoosed, amscrayed.’

‘I hate it when the real world ignores a perfectly logical, rational assumption.’

‘I carefully did not lose my temper and barbecue her stupid face right then and there.’

‘I screamed in order to summon up my primal reserves and to intimidate Madrigal into missing me and definitely not because I was terrified.’

“Who’s a grumpy wizard in the morning?” ~Carlos to Harry

“I. Am not. Yoda!” ~Harry to Molly

“My mouth is partially paralyzed. It makes it hard for me to read. He’s here to help me with the big words. Tell me if I’m supposed to push or pull on doors, that kind of thing.” ~Harry talking to security guard about Mouse

“I’d been planning the little ball-of-face-melty-sunshine thing for awhile now.” ~Harry to Murphy

‘Murph sat beside me, not saying anything, not accusing me of anything, she just sat with me. Friends do that.’

‘Dammit, Harry, ignore your penis before it gets you killed.’ ~Harry to self

“Tonight you will be visited by three spirits. The ghosts of indictments of past, present, and future. They will teach you the true meaning of ‘you are still a scumbag criminal’.” ~Harry to Marcone


Check out my other Dresden Files reviews:

#1 – Storm Front

#2 – Fool Moon

#3 – Grave Peril

#4 – Summer Knight

#5 – Death Masks

#6 – Blood Rites

#7 – Dead Beat

#8 – Proven Guilty

#10 – Small Favor

#11 – Turn Coat

#12 – Changes

#12.5 – Side Jobs

#13 – Ghost Story

Review: ‘Degrees of Freedom’ by Simon Morden


Degrees of Freedom

Metrozone #3

Author: Simon Morden 

Format: galley

Publisher: Orbit

Release Date: 6/1/11

Length: 384 pages

Acquired: Net Galley




The blurb:

The Six Degrees of Samuel Petrovitch:

  • Michael is an AI of incalculable complexity trapped under the remains of Oshicora Tower. Petrovitch will free him one day; he just has to trust Michael will still be sane by the time he does.
  • Maddy and Petrovitch have trust issues. But Petrovitch is pretty sure she loves him.
  • Sonja Oshicora loves Petrovitch, too. But she’s playing a complicated game and it’s not clear that she means to save him from what’s coming.
  • The CIA wants to save the world. Well, just America, but they’ll call it what they like.
  • The New Machine Jihad is calling. But Petrovitch killed it. Didn’t he?
  • And the Armageddonists tried to kill pretty much everyone by blowing the world up. Now, they want to do it again.

Once again, all roads lead back to Petrovitch. Everyone wants something from him, but all he wants is to be free …


My spoiler-riddled thoughts:

I’m a bad book reviewer. Baaaad. I’ve had this book in my ereader since shortly after the release of the first book in the Metrozone trilogy, Equations of Life. I even finished reading it a couple of days after it was released on June 1st. I’ve just been a slacker and have little excuse for not getting this review done and for that, I apologize profusely. Because this book… was awesome.

I think one of my issues with putting off this review (though this is by no means the only review I’ve had pending for weeks!) is that there is SO MUCH information in this book to cover! In all of them, really, and I’m lamenting the fact that I didn’t go back and reread the first two before diving into this one because Mr. Morden packs a ton of information into each book and then refers to it, directly or not, in each subsequent book. So yes, even after a month or two, it’s possible to forget multiple little tidbits that can leave you thinking, “Huh?” as it’s referenced in a later book in the series. At least, it’s possible for me.

So… on to talking about Degrees of Freedom! And spoilers. Be warned. I toss out spoilers like Samuil Petrovitch tosses out curse words in Russian.

This third and final (that I’m aware of) installment of The Metrozone trilogy finds Sam in the Freezone, nearly a year after the Outies nearly overran the Metrozone in a violent invasion that killed tens of thousands. Everything north of the Thames has been isolated and dubbed the Freezone, with Sonja Oshicora as its leader and Sam as its symbol of perseverance and hope. Michael, the AI that’s the remnant of the intelligence Sonja’s father created as part of Virtual Japan which became the New Machine Jihad before Sam took it down, is still buried beneath the ruins of Oshicora Tower since an attempt by America to kill it. Him. Michael is a him and he’s Sam’s friend and Sam is determined to free him.

But the world is watching and the Freezone’s one year of freedom from outside intervention is nearly over. All Sam wants is freedom. For himself, for his wife, for his friends and for Michael. He’s been planning something in secret, planning for a vision he had in Theories of Flight and he’s nearly there when, what else? Everything goes to hell. Sam, who is well on his way to becoming a genius post-apocalyptic bionic man, always seems to get blindsided and have his careful plans stomped into bitter little bits of disappointment and regret. But then again, he’s quick to think around a problem and figure out a solution so he’s well-suited to face whatever comes his way.

Or is he? He’s pretty much estranged from his wife, Maddy… Pif is imprisoned in America and his one hope of freeing her is someone from his past that he’d rather not be involved with… there’s suddenly a nuclear threat in the heart of the Freezone… and the New Machine Jihad has risen again. As if that weren’t enough to be going on with, Sam has been betrayed and he doesn’t know who to suspect so he kind of suspects everyone. All while he’s trying to save Michael while the CIA is trying to stop him from doing so. Yeah, that whole raining/pouring thing.

Of course, as an ardent fan of this new trilogy, I had complete faith in Sam during the shit storm through which he was attempting to navigate his way to freedom. I wasn’t worried at all. Not a bit. Nope.

One of the many things about this story that’s somewhat amazed and delighted me is how quickly I became familiar with -and fond of- the main character, Sam Petrovitch. His brashness and devil may care attitude are endearing and I quickly noticed when he acted out of character or did something that I wouldn’t have expected him to do. One example is his tendency to swear in Russian. A lot.

At one point, he’s discussing the nuclear threat with Cardinal Carillo:

“We’re in Armageddonist territory here, Your fucking Excellency, and if I don’t have some answers soon, it’s going to be too shitting late to do anything about it.”

After that sentence I had a waitjustaminuteSamdoesn’tswearlikethat! moment. And then I read the next sentence and had a good laugh about it, partly because I called the unusual nature of his cursing in English and partly because he wasn’t very good at it:

“I’m not used to swearing in English, but I’m making the effort because you’re a Yank, and it’s important that you understand just how trouser-pissingly scary this all is.”

Being brilliant and having saved the Metrozone from annihilation not once, but twice before, doesn’t keep Sam from getting down in the dumps now and again. He’s only human -mostly- and he gets depressed, too.

‘He knew it wasn’t meant to be this way, and yet there he was, underground, damaged beyond repair, out of battery power, threatened by entombment, nuclear annihilation and a woman scorned. Pizdets.

This story is so fast paced, the plot literally flies by and keeps you holding onto the edge of your seat, or clutching tightly to the edges of your book, rather… wondering if Sam will accomplish all that he’s set out to do… if he’ll manage, once more, to pull it all together and win the day. Or if his plans will fail miserably as the best laid plans are wont to do.

For anyone who has yet to pick up this series, I highly, highly recommend it. Morden has created a world and characters that I would be delighted to visit again. Aside from the re-reads of this trilogy that I’ve got planned and Thy Kingdom Come, Morden’s collection of short stories that preface the events in Equations, that is.


Fave quotes:

“What if an AI shows signs of independent, creative thought? What if it can empathize? What if it has the capacity for generosity, altruism, compassion?” ~Father John to Sam

“Far be it for me to point out some flaws in your plan, but are you a complete mudak?” ~Sam to Dalton

“I don’t know what to say. I’m supposed to be the king of the futile gesture, and here I am, trumped by some stupid Yankee lawyer.” ~Sam to Dalton

‘Misdirection. It was harder work than mere secrecy.’

‘Everything was temporary. Nothing lasted forever, not things, not people, not love, not time itself.’

“I haven’t got the energy. Find me a power source. Or vodka. Both, preferably.” ~Sam to Valentina

“My voice is permanently stuck between sarcastic and condescending, no matter how hard I try for the dizzying heights of irony.”

“Talking geek at you always made you horny.” ~Sam to Maddy

“We’re dealing with people who are comfortable with nuclear terrorism. Stabby, shooty stuff might be the least of our worries.” ~Sam to Lucy

“How come this is so obvious to me, but not to you bunch of emotionally retarded grown-ups?” ~Lucy

“Old Man Oshicora had a sense of humor, as well as being a cold-hearted murderer. I suppose the two aren’t mutually exclusive.” ~ Sam to Tabletop

“Amongst all the other things I’ve also fucked up, this has to take the crown jewels for the thing I’ve fucked up the most, right?” ~Sam to Tabletop

“Lucy, I’m tired of this. Tired of trying to fix things that shouldn’t be broken in the first place. i want to make something new that doesn’t have to be squeezed into an earlier pattern.” ~Sam

“I wouldn’t want anyone’s burka spontaneously catching fire because of something I’ve said.” ~Sam to Yasmina Surur

“Hi. My name’s Samuil Petrovitch, and I now run this show. If someone wants to own up to being in charge, speak now, because what you say will have a dramatic effect on your life expectancy.”

“I feel some shock and awe coming on.” ~Sam

“It’s as if a whole world of cultural meaning has cried out in terror and been suddenly silenced.” ~Sam

“This is revolution. Where is end? I do not know. All I know, this is beginning and we must be brave.” ~Valentina

“Meh, if I’m going to fail, I may as well fail spectacularly.” ~Sam


Review: ‘Proven Guilty’ by Jim Butcher (audio)


Proven Guilty

Dresden Files #8

Author: Jim Butcher

Format: audio book

Publisher: Penguin Audio Books

Release Date: 4/23/09 (original release date: 2/6/07)

Length: 16 hours 16 minutes (a 576 page paperback also resides amongst my other Dresden Files books)



The back cover blurb:

There’s no love lost between Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, and the White Council of Wizards, who find him brash and undisciplined.

But war with the vampires has thinned their ranks, so the Council has drafted Harry as a Warden and assigned him to look into rumors of black magic in the Windy City.

As Harry adjusts to his new role, another problem arrives in the form of the tattooed and pierced daughter of an old friend, all grown-up and already  in trouble. Her boyfriend is the only suspect in what looks like a supernatural assault straight out of a horror film.

Malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in Chicago but it’s all in a day’s work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and a talking skull named Bob…


My spoiler-riddled thoughts:

This action-packed and information-packed 8th volume of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series starts off with Harry witnessing the trial and execution of a 16 year old warlock who had used magic to seriously mess with the minds of multiple people. Harry is angered and disgusted by the execution but as the Merlin calmly explains, the warlock had caused the deaths of many people and his use of Black Magic had driven him insane. While Harry understands, he laments that there was nobody to teach the boy to prevent his misuse of his talent and therefore save him from his fate.

Afterward, Ebenezar asks him to find out why the Sidhe, both Winter and Summer, have failed to respond to the invasion of Faerie by the Red Court the previous year. Ebenezar also invites Harry to lunch, though Harry declines. He’s still feeling somewhat betrayed by his one-time mentor since he learned that Ebenezar McCoy is the White Council’s Black Staff, ie. assassin. He’s not quite ready to forgive Ebenezar for the deception.

Harry then gets a cryptic message from the Gatekeeper, Rashid of the Senior Council, to investigate multiple incidents of Black Magic within Chicago. Rashid tells him in the message that nobody else is aware of the incidents and informs Harry that it is vital that he investigate immediately. To which Harry thinks, ‘Faeries. Black Magic. It never rains but it pours.’

As Harry leaves the gathering of the Council, he is again tempted by Lasciel to take up her coin, an offer to which he responds angrily. The thing is that she has helped him out considerably in the past and the more he seeks her assistance, the more likely he is to continue doing so. She is very anxious to stay alive and if Harry were to die, so would Lasciel. As if his various assignments from the Senior Council and the temptations by Lasciel weren’t enough, Harry is run off the road while driving the Beetle by an unidentified person. What a great day he’s having!

Upon being returned to his humble basement abode by Murphy, Harry makes ready to test Little Chicago, an exact scale model of the city set up in his lab. The model was painstakingly assembled and Harry hopes to use it in his work, hopes that it will make that work easier and more accurate. But he has to be very careful… if he and Bob have made any mistakes in the construction of the model, it could literally explode, killing Harry the very first time he uses it. So he prepares for the first use of the model very carefully, despite the mild concussion he sustained in the accident.

When his preparation ritual is interrupted by the phone, he rants and raves a bit and then abandons the ritual to bail Molly Carpenter–eldest child of Michael Carpenter, Harry’s friend and Knight of the Cross–out of jail. When he arrives downtown, he discovers that Molly isn’t the one in jail. It’s her boyfriend, Nelson, and he’s innocent of the charge of assault for which he’d been arrested. Molly pleads with Harry to help him and so Harry does, but in doing so he unknowingly gets swept up in a case that will not only lead him to the warlock practicing black magic that he’s been charged by the Gatekeeper to find, but into Faeire itself… straight into the heart of Winter and its struggle with Summer.

The usual players are present once again and Harry has some pretty deep discussions with several of them, including Molly, her mother Charity, Father Forthill and Murphy. He also tries to have a discussion with his brother Thomas but the White Court vampire has been acting very odd as of late, and is hardly ever around anymore. Harry suspects that he’s actively feeding again and worries for him.

Harry also meets with Fix, the Summer Knight who brings along the Summer Lady, Lily, the youngest of the Faerie queens of Summer. They’re compelled to not reveal much of anything at all to him but he gleans that Summer hasn’t reacted to the invasion of Faerie by the Red Court because if they do, then Winter will strike at them while they’re otherwise occupied. Since Lily isn’t able to tell Harry what he needs to know, he asks her to call in Maeve, the Winter Lady, who is under no compulsion to prevent her from talking to Harry. She hints that Mab, the Winter Queen, may just be insane. As if Harry doesn’t have enough problems to be going on with!

During the course of Harry’s case with Molly, he and Murphy have an impromptu discussion on matters of the heart… on an elevator, the best place for impromptu discussions on matters of the heart, if you ask me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go well for Harry though he realizes that Murphy is right when she tells him: “You couldn’t do casual. You commit yourself too deeply. You care too much. We couldn’t have something light. You would never settle for that.”

Despite knowing that she’s right as she proceeds to tell him every reason they shouldn’t be together, Harry still tries to change her mind: “Maybe you’re thinking about this too much, Murph. Logic and reason and planning for the future. What’s in your heart doesn’t need that.” To which Murphy responds: “I used to think that, too. I was wrong. Love isn’t all you need. And I just don’t see us together, Harry. You’re dear to me. I couldn’t ask for a kinder friend. I’d walk through fire for you.” She goes on to say that they just wouldn’t be right for each other and mentions that she wants someone to grow old with her, and that he would outlive her by hundreds of years. It’s rather heartbreaking to listen to James Marsters’ reading of that particular scene. He perfectly relays Harry’s rejection and pain, which are acute. As Murphy leaves the elevator Harry thinks: ‘Stab. Twist. God, I love being a wizard.’

I might have dwelled upon that particular conversation a bit too long, but it’s important in regards to the rest of the series, I think. Harry and Murphy banter back and forth quite a lot and Butcher even includes a short story on this very subject in his collection, Side Jobs, published last  year. If you haven’t picked it up yet, I enthusiastically encourage you to do so. Aside from the short in Side Jobs, Butcher has Harry getting ready for an actual date with Murphy upon their return from Mexico at the end of book 12, Changes. Of course, the date between the long-time friends and colleagues never happens as readers of the series to date well know. The reason that it never happens is something that makes the final short story in Side Jobs, which is from Karrin’s point of view, all the more sob-inducing.

Okay, ’nuff said about that. Back to this story…

As Harry works the case–which involves phobophages in the form of horror movie monsters crossing over from the Nevernever to feed on the fear of the people attending a horror movie convention called SPLATTERCON!!! before killing them–he realizes that someone is following him, though he’s unsure as to whether it’s the same someone who had previously run him off the road. He also encounters a movie producer named Darby Crane, who sets off his spooky alarm bells and quickly becomes the person that Harry likes for the culprit responsible for summoning the phobophages.

After yet another attack, which Harry mostly fended off by casting a spell to send the phobophages after their summoner, he and Rawlins are heading out to track them and therefore find the summoner when a van hits Mouse and Harry and Rawlins are kidnapped by Darby Crane and his lawyer. They’re not held for long, however, and despite having apparently been sold by Crane on eBay, Harry and Rawlins make their escape, ironically from the very garage that Harry was held in back in book 2, Fool Moon by the lycanthropes that had kidnapped him. Upon escaping, they’re joined by Thomas and a very much alive, if battered, Mouse, who actually led Thomas to Harry and Harry realizes that Crane–aka Madrigal Raith and Thomas’ cousin–is just the fall guy, and not actually responsible for the black magic. As they’re making ready to leave, another phobophage shows up and surprises Harry with it’s strength and immunity to his magic.

Difficult as it proves to get away from the creature, they do and Harry tracks the phobophages that he’d sent after their summoner. His spell leads him to the Carpenter house where he learns that Molly has been taken. But not by phages, by Fetches of the Winter Court. Harry uses Little Chicago to find where they took Molly over into the Nevernever and mounts a rescue attempt, accompanied by Thomas, Murphy and Molly’s mother, Charity, since Michael is out of town on ‘business’.

They are assisted–Charity is assisted, rather–by the Summer Lady and Knight and are successful. Harry also encounters the Winter Knight who has been tortured and imprisoned for years and his Godmother, Lea, who is also being punished and imprisoned by Mab. Unfortunately, she’s a little insane though she does tell him that by using the power of Summer at Winter’s heart in order to rescue Molly, Harry has alerted the Winter Fae who are all now heading to kill him. They make a run for it and escape, and Harry learns that Lily kind of used him to distract the forces of Winter in order to free up Summer to assist the White Council.

Once Charity is back at Saint Mary of the Angels with her family, Harry discusses with Molly her options. He tells her that she broke one of the laws of magic when she interfered with a couple of her friends to keep them from using drugs and that she has to answer to the White Council. Despite a hefty dose of denial, Molly eventually comes around and decides to turn herself in, once Harry assures her that the Wardens will have to go through him to execute her for the crime.

When they show up for the hearing, Lily and Fix arrive and officially commend Morgan for his valor at the recent battle against the Red Court. Lily also credits Harry with the success of the campaign, relaying his incursion into Faerie and his assault on Arctis Tor, the heart of the Winter Fae, which distracted the forces of Winter and allowed Summer to assist the Council against the Reds. Harry knows this is all nonsense but it sure makes him look good.

Harry then stands for Molly in her hearing at which all but two of the Senior Council are absent. Only Rashid and the Merlin are present and the Merlin finds Molly guilty and orders her executed. Harry begs Morgan not to do it and Morgan appears to have reservations. Before he can carry out the Merlin’s sentence, however, a slew of Warden trainees show up with Captain Luccio, several members of the Senior Council and none other than Molly’s father, Michael… the Knight of the Cross. Turns out, he’d pretty much saved their asses from demons and the Council was somewhat inclined to vote in Molly’s favor because of this. While she’s under the Doom of Damocles, she’ll live and become Harry’s apprentice.

Harry finally confesses to Michael that he picked up Lasciel’s coin and is shocked to learn that Michael already knew… that he’d seen the whole thing. He’s happy to hear that Harry hasn’t taken up the coin and tells Harry that he’ll be there for him if he decides to give up the coin, and his power with it. He then tells Harry that if he changes, he’ll also be there.

To wrap up the book, Bob tells Harry that there had been a flaw in Little Chicago but that it had been mysteriously fixed before Harry had used it to track Molly. I’m guessing that Lasciel had something to do with that. We also learn that Murphy has been demoted for being AWOL for 24 hours while helping Harry rescue Molly. Thomas is pissed that Harry believed Murphy’s rejection, he seems to have some information from a talk with Murphy and thinks that Harry should try harder. Finally, Ebenezar visits and discusses the White Council traitor with Harry. They surmise that there must be more than one person acting in concert to cripple the White Council and attribute many of the things that Harry’s countered over the years to this phantom organization dubbed the Black Council by Harry. They decide to keep their eyes open and not to disclose their suspicions to anyone on the Council, seeing how there are most likely traitors in their midst. Then… Harry invites Ebenezar to dinner and reconciliation ensues.

All in all, this is one of the most involved books to date in this series. Butcher steps it up a notch or three with all of the Faerie court drama as well as the probable long-time existence of the Black Council. There are info dumps galore but they’re artfully done and the reader, especially when listening to the masterful reading of James Marsters as I have been doing during my re-listen of the series, must pay close attention or miss vital information.

My apologies if I forgot any tidbits, there was quite a lot of ground to cover with this one. My further apologies for the length of this post… again with the amount of ground to cover thing. If you read this far, you have my thanks… why don’t you leave a comment to attest to your perseverance and dedication? Next on my list of re-reads to get up to speed on the series before the release of Ghost Story in July: book 9, White Night!


My own personal summary of the book:

The one in which Harry: witnesses the execution of a kid who’d been practicing black magic; gets a call for help from Michael Carpenter’s 17 year old daughter, Molly; goes to a horror convention; chats about matters of the heart with Murphy… a few times; is auctioned off on eBay; has a drink and a talk about Faith with Father Forthill; has a heart-to-heart about magic with Charity Carpenter (there are quite a lot of personal chats going on in this book!); storms Arctis Tor, the heart of Winter to rescue Molly; saves Molly again, this time from execution by the White Council for breaking the 4th Law of Magic and takes her on as an apprentice; confesses to Michael that he picked up a Blackened Denarii only to learn that Michael had seen the incident; fends off Molly throwing herself at him, thinking that’s what he wants and/or needs after their soul gaze; discusses with Ebenezar the possibility of traitors on the Council and dubs them ‘Black Council’; and finally… over the course of his talk with Ebenezar about the traitor(s) on the White Council, he reconciles with his old friend and mentor.


Fave quotes:

‘Sometimes I get tired of being the guy who has to deal with undealwithable situations.’

“Stars and stones, I don’t want dating advice from a frigging helltart.” ~Harry to Lasciel

“You’re with me today, I need someone to watch my back. Maybe help me eat a hot dog later.” ~Harry to Mouse

“For the love of God, Maeve. Will you give the Evil Kinkstress act a rest? It gets tired pretty fast.” ~Fix

‘Dammit, I hate when someone knows more than me about exactly how deep a hole I’m digging under myself.’

“I’m not a teenage girl. Please don’t try to good cop me.” ~Harry to Rick

‘Dammit. Stupid demons. Always with the last word.’

“You. You killed my dog. Get your affairs in order.” ~Harry to Glau

“You’re siphoning my noble hero vibe. Cease and desist or I’ll sue.” ~Harry to Rawlins

“Hey! Are you selling me on eBay?” ~Harry to Crane

“Get off the creepy psychic vampire train.” ~Harry to Crane

‘Vanity, thy name is vampire.’

“Murph, you rock! Go, team Dresden!” ~Harry

“Oh yeah, this isn’t coming back to bite anyone in the ass later.” ~Thomas

‘When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching–they are your family.’

“Lea, what has happened to you? How long have you been a… Sidhe-sickle?” ~Harry

‘Hey. I don’t care what kind of fairie or mortal or hideous creature you are. If you’ve got danglies and can lose them, that’s the kind of sight that makes you reconsider the possible genitalia-related ramifications of your actions real damn quick.’

“I can’t sleep well any night I haven’t inflicted a little property damage.” ~Harry to Fix

“Thank you for another field trip, Harry. Kind of bland, though. Maybe next time we should bring some coffee or something, so we don’t yawn ourselves to death.” ~Thomas, after the gang returns from Arctis Tor


Check out my other Dresden Files reviews:

#1 – Storm Front

#2 – Fool Moon

#3 – Grave Peril

#4 – Summer Knight

#5 – Death Masks

#6 – Blood Rites

#7 – Dead Beat

#9 – White Night

#10 – Small Favor

#11 – Turn Coat

#12 – Changes

#12.5 – Side Jobs

#13 – Ghost Story