Where do you cross a line between evil deeds and good intentions? The eighth installment in the Dresden Files series has Harry asking just this question as, in carrying out his duties as a Warden of the White Council of Wizards, he must report the daughter of a friend for working forbidden magic.
A practitioner of black magic has summoned a number of beings from the faerie realm that feed on fear, and take the forms of monsters highlighted in a local horror-movie “con.” Only instead of being fictional like the on-screen characters, these “fetches” of faerie land actually kill, and keep killing, until Harry can locate the summoner who brought them into Chicago and stop them.
Young Molly Carpenter, (the oldest child of Harry’s friend and occasional comrade-in-arms, Michael, one of the Knights of the Cross) is involved in the “con,” and with several of the victims, but until he unwittingly turns the monsters against her, Harry is unaware of her true connection to events. By then, she’s already been taken captive to the Nevernever, and the strangest group of questers imaginable must follow.
Harry is joined by SI Detective Karin Murphy; his half-brother, the vampire succubus Thomas; a armor-wearing Charity Carpenter, who has issues of her own with Harry and magic in general; and is aided by the Summer Lady and her Knight as the company ventures into the heart of Winter, the stronghold of Queen Mab. Will they be able to find Molly, and save her from a fate worse than death? Will they even survive the quest?
And should they return successfully, will Harry have to see Molly put to death by the White Council for breaking one of the laws of magic?
Jim Butcher just seems to keep getting better and better in this series. The “universe” he has built keeps expanding; with characters, subplots, and major storylines continually building on each other and spiraling outward with each successive novel. Harry Dresden has come a long way as a protagonist, from a lone wolf wizard to a friend, brother, comrade, and mentor to a whole family of characters.
While each book can be read as a stand-alone, to really understand the background I recommend reading the entirety from beginning to end, as I’m working my way through currently, anticipating the release of the sixteenth book, Peace Talks, in July of this year. I award Proven Guilty five stars and recommend it to readers interested in paranormal and urban fantasy series, as well as readers of paranormal detective stories.