There’s no love lost between Harry Dresden, the only wizardin 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…
Book number 8 in the Dresden Files series. It was released the year after the previous novel (as most of these were), but since I was loaned all fifteen (at the time), and had the chance to binge-read them (to my young readers: “Binge Reading” is like “Binge Watching”, only with these things called “books” instead of “television shows”), I have to keep in mind that the events here take place almost a year after Dead Beat. And last time, things were topped off with a freakin’ zombie T-Rex. What surprises does this one hold?
Things kick off with Harry Dresden–who is now a fully appointed Warden of the White Counsel of Wizards (irony)–attending the trial and execution of a sixteen-year-old boy for going over to the dark side of wizardry. He’s then tasked with fiding otu why the Summer and Winter courts of the Fae haven’t attacked the Red Court vampires, and also to check out a spike in black magic usage in Chicago. Harry then finds himself investigating strange attacks at a local horror movie convention, which turns out to be perpetrated by supernatural predators called phobophages, and when he manages to get them to turn on the person who summoned them, discovers that it was the oldest daughter of Michael Carpenter–Molly Carpenter, who is kidnapped into the Nevernever. Meanwhile, turns out the Winter Queen is acting rather od, which is making everyone on both sides of the Fae nervous, and so Harry has no choice but to storm the Winter stronghold to rescue Molly and try not to bring the entirety of the Winter Fae upon him. He succeeds in one part. Try and guess which one.
Well, now, this one was interesting. First of all, the whole “fears coming to life” thing happening at a horror convention…sure, why not? So far, this is the only book where them phobophages appear; the concept of the creatures is rather intriguing, and it seems was an original concept by Butcher for the purpose of this story. But man, this is something I’d like to explore a bit, maybe flesh out in a short story or something. Anyway, interesting development with Molly, and quite a bit of deeper development with Charity Carpenter beyond Strong Willed Mother Who Doesn’t Like Harry. And not only does it seem that the whole Warden gig is permanent, but there’s a grander conspiracy going on than meets the eye. Such is the nature of conspiracies, one would presume.
So, overall, the series continues to be an intriguing one, willing to take some risks with the ongoing development of the overarching mythos and characters, while trying something new with old concepts. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that this is not a series that you can just jump on in the middle, but at least there’s an effort to explain a bit some of the back story stuff. Still, highly recommended, this is.