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