It’s a dreary Saturday here in the Willamette Valley, and I get to enjoy the view of raindrops and falling leaves from the lobby of yet another Starbucks. This one is close to my work, which is always a little weird because I see library patrons out in the wild. Not always a good thing, I realize, as my “Scooby Doo Villain” shuffles past me.
This week is going really well. I feel good. Accomplished, and excited for next week. I don’t want to go into too many details here, because I’ll be back on Monday to talk about goals and what’s ahead and all that.
So, let’s get on with the Book Review already! As usual, this is where I warn that there are spoilers ahead. Enter if ye dare!
Proven Guilty is the eighth installment of Jim Butcher’s popular Urban Fantasy Noir series, The Dresden Files. I’ve tried to read these books for the better part of ten years but always get waylaid or distracted. It wasn’t until I ventured into the world of audiobooks that I became rather fascinated with the series, largely thanks to the wonderful narration by James Martsers (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). He is now my accepted canon for Dresden’s voice, and he just does such a wonderful job on these books in every way, it really revolutionizes them for me.
Plus, I can now call up Dresden’s growls of “Fuego!” and “Forzare!” with incredible accuracy at will, so there’s always a giggle just a thought away.
So, in this book, Harry is coming to terms with the events of the last book. If you need a refresher course, check out my review. He’s pretty glum in this one, and is trying to cope with a big chunk of self-loathing. The book opens with the Warden’s executing a teenager that’s used forbidden magic, another tense conversation between Harry and Ebenezer, and a cryptic message from the White Council about Black Magic on the loose in Chicago sets the tone of the book as pretty damn grim.
But, that all changes when the Carpenters’ oldest daughter, Molly, calls Harry to bail her boyfriend out of jail. Remember that the Carpenters are Michael and Charity, the most wholesome and good people Harry knows. Hell, Michael is one of the Knights of the Cross, and wields an actual magical sword named Amoracchius against the forces of Evil in the name of God.
Yeah. So, when Harry pulls up at the station to see Molly in all black Goth regalia, wearing a button that reads “Splattercon!!!” (Martsers read it, ‘Splattercon, exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point,’ every single time and it was hilarious) the wizard is rightfully perplexed.
Turns out, Molly left home and is working at a Horror Film Convention with her boyfriend. But, things have been weird at the Con, and a local theater owner was attacked by mysterious means.
And so Harry is on the job.
It seems simple enough: find the baddies calling forth these mindless fae known as Fetches, who live on fear and so are manifesting as horror film terrors. All he has to do is a fairly complex spell that will bounce the Fetches back at the ones calling them, easy enough for the only practicing Wizard in Chicago’s yellow pages. Except, Dresden’s plan backfires. Bad.
The Fetches attack Molly, who had just been sent home with her mother. Where all the other Carpenter children live. Realizing what happened, and also realizing that means Molly must have done Black Magic for the Fetches to attack her, Dresden rushes to the Carpenter household.
Good news? Only one child was hurt, and he will be okay. Bad news? Molly was taken by the Fetches. Best news? Charity is on the offensive and reveals herself as a complete badass. And I mean, COMPLETE BADASS. Chain mail-wearing, sword-wielding, faerie-killing badass.
Other good news? Harry brings in the whole crew on this one. Murphy, Thomas, the Summer Knight and Summer Lady, and of course Mouse! It was awesome to see all these characters come together.
What was less awesome was that their hunt for Molly led them to the heart of the Winter Court, where it’s rumored that Queen Mab has gone insane. They run into Lea, Dresden’s godmother, who’s been taken hostage by the Mab, and shit gets a bit… complex from there.
Summer and Winter courts are on the verge of their own war, which keeps either from coming to the aid of the White Council in its war against the Vampires, which is going pretty poorly, by the way.
But, politics aside, they save the girl and barely manage to escape Faerie. It seems like they’ve won the day. And they did. But, Dresden and Charity both know there’s yet another threat looming. Molly used her magic to alter the minds of her boyfriend and her best friend, because both of them were addicted to heroin. But, mind control is considered one of the Blackest of Magics.
The White Council cannot abide the use of Black Magic. That’s why the Wardens exist. And Harry is a Warden. He has to report the happenings of his region to the Council. And they are very likely to call for Molly’s execution.
There’s a trial, and the Merlin has pulled strings and manipulated the system so that he alone represents the majority of the vote. It’s not looking good for Molly, and Dresden fears he might be forced to fight his fellow Wardens to keep his promise to the Carpenters to protect their daughter. But then Ebenezer breezes in, with the remainder of the White Council, and they take the votes from the Merlin.
Molly is allowed to live, as long as she is Dresden’s apprentice, and abides by all the Council’s rules. Should she break them, she and Dresden will pay the price.
There’s more little details throughout the book that set up side plots going forward, like Thomas’ mysterious new job, the revelation that Mouse isn’t a dog (although what he actually is has yet to be revealed), and that Murph lost her post as the head of Special Investigations.
You know, important-ish stuff.
If you couldn’t tell, I really liked this book. I think it rates about even with its predecessor, but for completely different reasons. Dead Beat was amazing because there was a ton of really cool magic being flung around, and Harry resurrected a fucking Tyrannosaurus Rex. This book was amazing because of the complex political machinations happening all over the place, all with Harry in the middle. Where Dead Beat was a romping magical action flick, Proven Guilty was a political drama with some cool fight scenes sprinkled in.
I highly recommend this series, by the way. Just sayin’.
I just finished reading The Dire King yesterday, so will have that book review out next week. I’m moving on to The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin, and will read Dark Sky by Mike Brooks after that. I’m not sure when I’ll pick up the next Dresden book, White Night, but I have the audiobook on my computer. I just need to load it onto my phone and I can get started.
So, I’ll talk at you all come Monday so I can go over goals and results, and set new goals!
Until then, Blogland.