Warning!All spoilers for previous books are unmarked on this page!Ghost Story is book #13 in The Dresden Files.After Harry's sudden death at the end of the previous book, he finds himself in the afterlife. Or a sort of waiting room of the afterlife. There, he meets Captain Collin "Jack" Murphy, Karrin Murphy's father, who is working to clean up supernatural messes that affect the post-living when something screws with their deaths. One of those things Harry can help with, if he is willing to return to Earth as a ghost. It will be dangerous, though, and there will be no second chances.Oh, and if he fails, three people close to him will die.Ghost Story is book #13 in The Dresden Files. Now has its own shout out page.
Ghost Story provides examples of the following tropes:
Abnormal Ammo: Sir Stuart uses a large gun to blast a wraith to oblivion. Harry finds out that, much like everything else a ghost can do, it is powered by memory. Stuart makes a great effort to recover that energy each time it is used. Harry finds out later that he can use magic again if it is powered by his memories of using magic. However, if Harry does not recover that energy he himself will eventually dissipate since, as a ghost, Harry is made of nothing ELSE but memory. Harry, being Harry, realizes this just a bit too late.
All Love Is Unrequited: Harry finally realises that Molly's feelings for him go beyond a mere crush. He also feels sorry that he cannot reciprocate them.
Alone in a Crowd: Harry suffers this more than once as he cannot be heard or seen except by maybe a dozen people in all of Chicago at the moment. He walks down a busy street and cannot even strike up a conversation with a person passing by or flip the bird at a bad driver. He fears for what might become of his mind if he must endure this a year or even ten years.
And the Adventure Continues: In payment for all his years serving as Mortimer's protector, Uriel recovers a damaged Sir Stuart and offers him a new job among his forces. Seeing how much his descendent has grown, Sir Stuart decides to take his leave and accepts the position of working for an Archangel.
An Astral Projection, Not a Ghost: Ironically, one of the twists of Ghost Story. Maybe. The things that Harry experienced, such as the "between", were most certainly real, and almost certainly restricted to ghosts.
Thanks to Mab, Demonreach, Uriel, and the efforts of a certain "parasite", Harry is brought back at the end.
Corpsetaker seeks to do this and come back to the world of the living once more.
More or less happens to Butters too, when Corpsetaker boots him out of his body and he's stuck in ghostly form until Mort restores him to his body again.
Badass Boast: When Daniel is facing off against Aristides blade-to-blade, he sarcastically asks Aristides where he got his knife from. After the other replies that he got it 'from the last fool to try a blade against [him],' Daniel gets this line in -
Daniel:Come here. I'll give you this one.
Badass Normal: Daniel Carpenter takes after both of his parents in the badass department, knife fighting with a supernaturally fast warlock.
Balance Between Good and Evil: Archangel Uriel reveales to Harry that he was unduly influenced by a Fallen saying a lie with seven words that led him to wanting to die after becoming the Winter Knight. To balance things out in the end, Uriel is able to give Harry seven corresponding words of Pure Truth to help him see through Mab's manipulations.
Batman Gambit: Uriel and Captain Jack play a mean game. Harry is needed and they ensure he will end up in the right place at the right time to help save his friends all because Captain Jack lied to Harry, with or without Uriel's knowledge is not clear. It worked out as Karrin is able to move on emotionally from her current rut, Molly is finally grieving over her actions in helping Harry commit suicide, Morty has become a stronger and better man, Chicago is free from some of its worst malevolent shades, and Corpsetaker is on her way to hell. And while Harry is still the Winter Knight, Uriel's final act of Seven Words of Absolute Truth assures him he is not as screwed as he once thought.
Battle in the Center of the Mind: Molly engages Corpsetaker in a mental battle in order to rescue Waldo Butters, whose body Corpsetaker has stolen. Then Corpsetaker tried to steal Molly's body in turn and is almost successful. The battle itself is represented as an actual battlefield, with Molly waging her end of things from a mental copy of the bridge of the Enterprise. Molly plays a scorched earth policy to delay Corpsetaker, and almost suicides to prevent Corpsetaker from winning — until Harry convinces her to call for help, at which point Mort hits Corpsetaker point-blank with a swarm of very pissed-off spirits.
Beard of Sorrow: At the very end we find out that Thomas has one as well because of Harry's death in Changes.
Beware the Nice Ones: Harry once again notes Uriel is the quietest and least known of the Archangels. To Harry, this makes him the most dangerous of the lot.
Bittersweet Ending: Things in the world are better than when the book started. Molly is still mentally damaged. Murphy is still hurting. Harry is alive but still Mab's Winter Knight. The Formor are still out there and causing hell in the world. All that said, Molly, with her secret known to Harry, can start moving onto the long road of healing. Karrin can properly grieve what happened to Harry. Thomas will soon come out of his slump. Maggie is safe and in good care. And lastly, seven words from Uriel helps Harry know that Mab may be his Master but she doesn't own him. She cannot turn him into something against his will and Harry informs Mab of this right when he wakes up.
Brainwashed and Crazy: Aristides used subtle mind magic to convince his crew of children to do crazy things, like firing into the house of Karrin Murphy.
Break the Cutie: Molly. Her overt madness is a Batman Gambit to scare away some of the nastier critters lurking around Chicago, but helping Harry arrange his own murder and then being as sensitive as she is at the battle of Chichen Itza — and close proximity to the spell that wiped out the Red Court — seriously hurt her, which is not being helped by Lea's "Neitzsche and Darwin were Pussies" brand of magical training.
Upon recognizing the first person he met was Ron Carmichael, Harry briefly thinks back to when he last saw him dying to fight a loup-garou to protect Murphy ten years ago.
Harry has Fitz knock on the wall of Father Forthill's office, in the exact spot where he'd learned Forthill keeps documents of a secret priestly order he belongs to in the short story "The Warrior".
Also with Forthill, he recalls Harry's fight with The Nightmare/Leonid Kravos in Grave Peril when Harry stayed inside the church for sanctuary. Forthill then notes he had presumed any ghost should be prevented from entering the holy ground and wonders what makes Harry different.
Similarly, when Murphy and crew are trying to determine if Harry is really Harry, most of the plots of the previous books are mentioned.
When Molly uses a sleep spell on some mind-addled minions of the big bad, Harry notes to Murphy it's not too different from what he used on her like in Grave Peril.Harry doesn't tell Murphy that the spell Harry used took ten minutes of hard concentration to not break anything in Murphy. Molly did it to multiple targets with more softness than Harry ever could in seconds.
Call On Me: When fighting Corpsetaker in her mind, Molly is planning to destroy her ow mind rather than it be taken over and used to harm her friends and loved ones. Before that can happen, Harry suggests this trope and has his ally send a message to Mort. He hears it and comes to the rescue vanquishing Corpsetaker's shade with the very horde of wraiths she used to torture him.
Cast from Hit Points: It is revealed that just about every ability a ghost can have (other than simply existing and traveling) is fueled by memory. Ghosts are composed of the memories of the person they were before. Use up all the memories and it is bye-bye. Harry comes dangerously close to this without realizing it.
Similar to Small Favor, this book conspicuously lacks any mention of Thomas Raith until the end, when Harry reasons he must have subconsciously blocked himself from thinking about his brother to avoid the shame he would feel thinking about how much pain he caused must have caused him with his suicide.
Harry's first question to Lea with their deal, "If shades are memories, are the memories truth?" and her response that they are the truth but his brain isn't the only place these memories are stored. As he is dead, he isn't limited by the 3 pound flesh organ in a skull. The only thing that limits what Harry remembers is himself. This becomes key when Harry realizes who his murderer is and what exactly happened.
Chronic Hero Syndrome: Harry still moves to rescue those who are in need, from Fitz and his kids, to his closest friends. Special mention goes to a flashback seen from Harry's youth when he saw He Who Walks Behind brutally kill a gas station attendant named Stan Harry met, while trying to rob Stan and this evil act galvanized him, setting him on this path.
It. Wasn't. Right. No, it wasn't. But the world wasn't a fair place, was it? And I had more reason to know it than most people twice my age. The world wasn't nice, and it wasn't fair. People who didn't deserve it suffered and died every single day. So what? So somebody ought to do something about it.
Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Ghosts operate on this. If they believe, even just on an instinctual level, they should be able to ride in a car, they won't fall through the seat. If they believe snow shouldn't affect them, five feet of snow is no longer cold. If they believe they should be able to walk through walls, they can. Well, assuming wards and thresholds aren't blocking them.
Most importantly of all for Harry, if he believes he's crazy enough to manifest, he can!
Code of Honour: Lea mentions that the Fae have a very strong belief in this.
No fae can gain or lose freely. It must be traded for something of equal value. Lea, for instance, can only be second to Mab's power in her court because of the deep fealty Lea has to Mab.
As a result of Winter Knight Harry being tasked with educating and preparing Molly Carpenter to survive and his sudden death, Queen Mab now considers this her task and sets Harry's Godmother Lea to train Molly in very harsh and nearly sadistic means to ensure the girl's survival. Her mental health and state of her soul not included. Harry later argues that debt won't mean anything if Molly dies from not having a warm meal and safe place to rest for a short time. Lea agreed, if begrudgingly, and gives Molly money for such a meal.
Cold-Blooded Torture: Corpsetaker does this to Mortimer Lindquist, suspending him over a writhing mass of wraiths and then dipping him in ever so slowly for an ever-increasing amount of time.
Continuity Nod: When Harry first shows up to the Chicago Justice League, they ask him lots of "Only Harry would know" type questions. We don't see most of them, but we do see Harry's responses to a handful, all of which are references to previous books.
Contrived Coincidence: Wouldn't you know it? The moment Harry's ghost comes back to Chicago The ghost of Corpsetaker is about to finally break down Mort's defenses and capture him and use him to come back to life. And then lead an attack on the Chicago Alliance and kill Molly with her new Fomor allies. Oh and was it mentioned like Harry, Captain Jack Murphy works for Archangel Uriel and spring is freaking late this year with snow in May measuring in the feet? Surely Mab couldn't be in town on some business. Nope. It is all perfectly normal stuff for your everyday ghost of a Wizard.
Inez, the spirit of a little girl in the Graceland cemetery who Harry meets. She is generally friendlier and more polite than most versions of creepy kids, but she is still unsettling, not the least because she died a couple of centuries ago and has an extensive amount of knowledge about spirits and shades, and is convinced by long experience that Harry will become "a monster." It is implied that Inez is a proxy for Mab, talking through a conduit because she couldn't come in person, what with being occupied as part of Harry's life support on Demonreach.
Also the insane ghost children who love to "play" with living children down by the river.
Every spirit in Ghost Story pretty much can only communicate this way. At one point Harry runs into an entity named Eternal Silence, who attempts to explain things to Harry in a straightforward manner. Doing so results in a paragraph of booming disconnected sentences, and the effect makes Harry's incorporeal body explode into a "Dresden-colored mist," so there is some pretty good reasons for this. As with Inez, it's implied that the Eternal Silence is actually Demonreach's proxy.
When Harry speaks with Archangel Uriel about this matter, Harry asks him if there was some rule forbidding straight and simple answers. The respondent states there are, in fact, several rules keeping him from giving answers.
Dare to Be Badass: Harry tells Fitz he can either be a man who will always be on the run or turn back and save his friends, Father Forthill, Butters, and Daniel from Aristides.
Eternal Silence is a spirit covered in black cloth. It is, however, not evil and tries to help Harry understand the ramifications of his being back and exactly what is at risk should he fail.
Harry meets an Angel of Death and described her as wearing black shoes, black pants, black shirts, black tie, dark hair, and skin that looked like it was dyed in an ink well. Even the sclera, the whites of her eyes, are black. All that said, she is one of the good guys who will guard the soul the dead to its final place. Not even the Prince of Darkness would wrest the soul from her protection.
Dead to Begin With: The whole premise. Ultimately inverted, as Harry was actually Alive To Begin With but spent the whole book thinking he was dead.
Deconstruction: This book deconstructs Harry's genocide of the Red Court in the previous book. They were a major political and financial power, and now that they've suddenly disappeared, there is a vacuum ready to be filled by new enemies. Molly confirms this when talking to Harry's spirit. It turns out that there were numerous threats which had previously given Chicago a wide berth, based purely on the reputation of its resident wizard. Now that he's gone, the city's pretty much going to hell. Molly has been attempting to deliberately set herself up as The Dreaded through the persona of the Rag Lady, but it's a long, slow process, and the emotional toll it's taking on her is intense.
Defiant Captive: Mort, while subjected to cold, methodical torture by the Grey Ghost, does not bend. He may scream in pain as the wraiths rip at his spiritual energies, but when he is out of it, screams things like "Go f- yourself" and "Watch a sunrise" and the like, being very clear he will not let her into his body.
Determinator: Ghosts who manifest in the real world must be an insane version of this. They must so insane and strong willed that the natural order of things doesn't apply to them and they come back.
Murphy noted to Molly not picking a superhero name and letting people and the papers name her the "Ragged Lady" for her habit of leaving bloodied cloths around her victims has led to an increase in PMS jokes. Molly is apologetic about the matter.
Harry rushed out of the Big Hood's home and across the Threshold to talk to Murph and her people and now cannot reenter uninvited. Murphy is not amused by this.
Double Entendre: Molly mentions she finally got Harry inside of her, after he partially possessed her body to fight some mooks. Harry is uneasy with the statement.
Driven to Suicide: Despite being dead already, Harry pulls this trope when he considers letting the running water of the river destroy his ghost. Also, it turns out that he arranged his own murder at the end of Changes.
Don't Fear The Reaper: Dresden meets an Angel of Death standing over Father Forthill. She's pleasant enough and is there to act as a soul's bodyguard on its final journey. She's even nice enough to ignore Dresden's various threats since, Dresden being Dresden and all, he doesn't realize until halfway through the conversation that she could utterly destroy him with a passing thought if he continues getting in the way of her duties.
Dumbass Has a Point: From Evil Bob's perspective Harry is an infant wizard with potential but clouded by stupid things like morality. However, when Harry rationally points out that Evil Bob stopping to offer Harry a We Can Rule Together speech is in his self-interest, Evil Bob notes he doesn't have such a thing. When Harry replied that Evil Bob had the superior advantage over Harry in most every aspect and need not make the offer but did so and offered to help usurp Corpsetaker, it must be because Evil Bob feels his interests would be better served working with a less insane Harry than the egomaniac Coprsetaker. Ergo, Evil Bob does have self-interest and can choose to act on it. Evil Bob realizes there might be some validity to this and will think on it later, but now must kill Harry.
While certainly Bad Ass during his fight with Aristides the sorcerer, Daniel Carpenter displays shades of this during his first appearance, blurting out in his over-enthusiastic and dour-but-righteous zeal that Murphy has two of the Swords of the Cross and that they should be used. The problem with this is that there is a member of the White Court in the room, who had no idea that Murphy had the Swords in the first place. The vamp attempts to use this information to blackmail Murphy into being hernextmeal, leading to a swift and brutal rebuttal.
Also Corpsetaker's thugs, who are uniformly and deliberately kept large and dumb.
Eldritch Abomination: Readers finally get the scoop on He Who Walks Behind. Lovecraft would have been impressed.
The Chicago Alliance is a union of Baron John Marcone, the White Court, The Church, Paranet, the Alphas, Molly Carpenter, and Karrin Murphy working against the supernatural forces seeking to rise in these chaotic times.
Lea refers to herself as one of Mab's enemies but they have an understanding and in exchange for Mab allowing Lea power to be her second, Lea has sworn loyalty to Mab.
Because of the above example, Harry makes Mab the same offer because if she tried differently, by forcing him to do her will he will have the motivation of "a garden statue."
Enemy Without: Evil Bob is a separate force from Good Bob, containing more destructive and powerful attacks. He came from Bob literally cutting out all the knowledge from the Kremmler because Harry told him to forget it permanently. As a future owner could order him to remember, the only way to fully forget was to remove entirely.
Evil Power Vacuum: With the events of Changes and the destruction of the whole or nearly the whole Red Court, an ancient evil organization that remained in power for over two thousand years, every small time group, beaten back ages ago by various evil and good forces, are on the rise. Old grudges are dusted off and opportunities await those who can carve out the biggest chunk at the table.
Evil Teacher/Stern Teacher: The Leanansidhe. To most mortal views, she is Evil for her forcing Molly to endure blistering cold temperatures in ragged clothes, and throwing ice chunks at her to make her work on her shields. Lea, however, sees herself as a Stern one because she does not view education with the same wishy-washy coddling mortals do, but simply the act of empowering and fortifying students to survive the harshness of the world. If pain and cold are needed, so be it. So, it is simply a "pop quiz" for Molly when Lea summoned some agents of the Fomor to combat to make her realize she cannot handle things alone. And in true fashion of both types of teachers who believes in never failing to make sure a student can learn a lesson when able, her refusal to help Molly when things were going bad was to push Harry and make him learn to be a stronger ghost to be able to help Molly in this moment. Two lessons at once. Quite a bargain.
The Fettered: Most shades degrade over a few years and become unstable and dangerous wraiths. Sir Stuart and others in Mort's protection guard have not. They are soldiers from various wars and eras, but men bound by honor and duty none the less. Their failures in life and strong sense of duty to now serve Mort have helped them maintained their sanity.
First Name Basis: The Angel of Death Harry meets speaks of people using their first names, unless pushed, at which point it becomes a Full Name Ultimatum with the exact tone and style the owner of the name uses.
Friend to All Children: Nicholas Christian specializes in finding missing children. Over his several decades long career, he had found and saved seven children while they were still alive.
Full Name Ultimatum: Harry learns that, part of being angels, includes knowing how to say his Name perfectly. Twice two offended angels spoke it but without any power, showing Harry quite clearly they could destroy him but choose not to.
Morty doesn't realize he has become part of a new adventure in which the fate of Chicago lies in the balance. He thinks he just signed up for an hour to help Dresden contact some old friends. He wonders what could happen in an hour.
Played with in Ghost Story. Harry's ghost is fighting Corpsetaker's ghost, and she keeps trying to gloat at Harry, only for him to keep interrupting her with harder and harder spells. He mocks her for doing so, then he's reminded that as a ghost, his spells are Cast from Hit Points, and Corpsetaker has a lot more energy to spare than he does. In addition to her ego, she was simply expecting him to weaken himself attacking her.
Ghostapo: Nazi-dressed Evil Bob commands a spirit realm shaped like the Nazi defenses on the beaches of D-Day, patrolled by werewolf Nazi soldiers Harry dubs wolfwaffen.
Girl on Girl Is Hot: Justine invokes this in order to get Thomas to feed on her at the end. By being with the woman, it strips her of her protection. Then she can be with Thomas.
God's Hands Are Tied: Harry meets several angels in his journey, including an Angel of Death. And while many note a desire to help mortals, they cannot because it would interfere with Free Will. As an Angel of Death notes it wasn't just a singular choice that lead the injured man to his potentially fatal predicament, however a myriad of choices, some not of his own making but by other mortals, did make this situation. In her mind it would be wrong to unmake all those choices.
Molly Carpenter has taken this line when it comes to protecting Chicago.
To make people understand how stupid it is to move around alone and unprotected, Karrin wants Will to scare people into line.
Good Shepherd: Father Forthill continues to be one. He works with the Chicago Alliance, which includes the mob and vampires, to help protect Chicago and other places across the world. He does not fear Molly, reprimanding her when she has erred, trying to help her see she needs people. He helps orphans and upon learning about Aristides' actions regarding said orphans, goes there unarmed to confront the man.
Grammar Nazi: Harry still has a bit of this. It shows when he notes the battlefield he looked upon was devastated not decimated. The later technically refers to the destruction of just ten buildings (hence the "deci-" prefix).
Harry sees a few in his trip. When he first spots one and tries to open his Sight on it, the angel warns him against such an action, going so far as shutting Harry's Sight off before it even comes on because "it would hurt him."
For Michael's service, he has earned them guarding his home from any spiritual attack.
Harry also spends Ghost Story feeling guilty about the mess he's made of the whole world, and particularly the lives of his friends and loved ones, by exterminating the Red Court (which he's not exactly wrong to feel guilty about). He feels particularly guilty about Molly, for not training her well enough to endure what befell at Chichen Itza, for setting a bad example by crossing the line when he became the Winter Knight, and especially for exposing her highly tuned psychic senses to the battle at Chichen Izta and the giant curse that ended it. He also feels like crap for making her help him kill himself, once he remembers. And then about Thomas, for not telling him about it.
Thomas feels in a deep rut as it was on his boat where Harry was shot. He feels it was his fault for not being there to save his little brother.
Happily Adopted: Uriel reveals this is Maggie's current situation. She is loved and cared for by Michael and Charity Carpenter.
Heel Realization: Midway through the novel, Harry comes to this realization when he considers the consequences of his actions in Changes and the extent which he went to in order to stop his enemies and save those he loved — and that in doing so, he became what he fought. But this is inverted later when he rejects Evil Bob's We Can Rule Together offer, realizing that one bad choice at the end of a lifetime of fighting evil does not make him evil.
Heroic BSOD: In Ghost Story, it is obvious that this has happened to Murphy, Molly, and Thomas after Harry's death.
Heroic Fatigue: Played with in Ghost Story: Being dead makes all the pain and exhaustion go away. Then, later, Harry manifests and enjoys the sensation of pain as a sensation of being alive. However, Harry is using his own memories to fuel his limited magic and later manifestation, to the point that there is not enough of Harry left to even remain as a ghost by the time he is done. Uriel and Mab later set things right. Well, right-ish.
Hero of Another Story: After seeing some of Mort's power, Harry muses that while he has saved the world from various threats, perhaps Mort has saved Chicago and the world from threats even Harry was ignorant about.
Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: Butters inability to swiftly answer Aristides' question about the missing swords dooms the facade Butters and Daniel had going.
He's Just Hiding: Murphy refused to accept Harry's death, including after she met his ghost, because she had never seen a body. When he shows up as a ghost, she refuses to believe it's really him, even after getting his identity confirmed by Mortimer the ectomancer and Molly's Sight, all because she doesn't want to admit that he's dead.invoked To be fair, in the end, Murphy's point about the body was valid as it was snatched up and preserved by Mab and Demonreach. Thus, technically speaking, Harry was never exactly dead in the first place.
Hidden Depths: Mort, who turns out to have both more grit and more magical talent than Harry ever suspected.
Molly spells it out to Harry that when he was alive, as much as he was The Dreaded to the dark forces, he was equally this to those too weak to fight because he inspired them to work together and always stood on their side.
Archangel Uriel, in turn, becomes this to Harry. When he was pushed such a despair he chose to commit suicide because a Fallen speaking a lie to him at his lowest point, Uriel repays the damage. When Harry was at a similar low point, seeing Mab over him proclaiming her victory and malevolent plans for Harry, Uriel gives Harry hope that he can remain who he is and still be the Winter Knight.
Harry realizes he was holding it during a specific event near the end of Changes: letting Molly, a mentally sensitive apprentice who's mostly untrained in combat, join him in retrieving Maggie. The mass of emotions from the battle came dangerously close to driving her insane, and as of Ghost Story, she's a lot more paranoid and broken than she used to be.
Karrin feels Sunbeam Monroe held it for not traveling with a partner and as a result was an easy target to kidnap.
Harry realized he held it by not having one of the crazy Lecter Specters manifest and free Mort from his bindings first.
Mort does not ask Karrin Murphy or her crew for protection when it became clear the ghosts attacking him were using mortal thugs.
Ignored Expert: Morty feels like this when despite him being known to the Chicago Alliance as an ectomancer, his testimony that Harry Dresden's spirit is with them and came with him to Murphy's home is not accepted completely. It takes Mister the cat reacting to Harry's shade with love and the word of a crazed Molly for them to believe it could be possible.
I Have Your Wife: Or child. Or sibling. Or neighbor. Or pet. Another tactic of the Fomor to get at people. They will use what they can.
I Know Your True Name: Harry realizes when two angels speak his True Name with perfect inflection at him, any attempt to fight them would be a moot one.
Impostor Exposing Test: Murphy has Mort cut himself in Ghost Story before inviting him inside. A lot of supernatural beings that require an invitation to enter a building will bleed ectoplasmic goo rather than blood. Harry notes that this method is far from foolproof.
Insult Backfire: Harry insults Lea's "teaching methods" with him as he noted how he turned out. She just smiled and pointed in just under forty years, her methods helped push him to kill the entire Red Court. A truly magnificent feat.
The Internet Is for Porn: In Ghost Story, Bob now has access to the internet. He declares, almost giddy, "It's like ninety-percent porn!"
Archangel Uriel throws Harry's boast of “I will make Maggie safe. If the world burns because of that then so be it. Me and the kid will roast some marshmallows” back in his face. He noted that "the world" would include Murphy's deep depression and anger, Molly's slipping sanity, and all the other problems caused because of a few of Harry's choices.
One notable example, showing just how bad things have gotten. When we first see Harry trying to teach Molly about shielding spells, it's with her younger brothers and sisters throwing snowballs at her. Her shield fails, she's pelted with snow, and it's a hilarious and heartwarming moment. Cut to Ghost Story, and she's again practicing shields. Only this time, it's Leanansidhe throwing hunks of ice like a major league pitcher, and Molly's as far from her warm, safe, loving home as you get.
Ironic Name: Aristides, the Fagin leader of street urchins and basic scum, shares his name with a 5th century BCE Athenian statesman known for his integrity and a 2nd century Catholic saint.
It's All My Fault: Harry believed that all the trouble in Changes was directly his fault. It is then revealed a Fallen influenced him to so believing this, he would kill himself.
Jewish Mother: Butters has one, and she's rubbed off on Bob since he took possession of the skull.
The Kid with the Leash: Butters winds up holding Bob's leash by the end, and Bob is happy to serve as his combination magical tutor and genie-in-a-skull. It helps that Bob's personality is a reflection of whoever holds his skull, or however the holder views Bob (which is why Bob's personality is so unchanged in Butters' possession: Butters' knew Bob when he was Harry's, so he thinks of Bob's personality the way Harry did). And Bob is more than happy to serve as Butters has the internet and The Internet Is for Porn.
Harry points out that the reason he uses fire is because it is universally useful. Even intangibles like ghosts recoil from fire as they have a hard time separating their memory of fire and flame from their current existence. Harry also points out that even though something might be invulnerable to death from burning, they almost always still feel pain from it and can be stalled with it.
Harry: Fire burns.
After seeing Molly's Faux Flame, the servitors of the Fomor assumed the blue flames that were cast by her were the same as before. They were wrong. The flames were done by Harry and quite real. One who tried it was killed nearly instantly.
Kill It with Water: Running water naturally disrupts magical energies. As such, Harry contemplates jumping into a running river to commit suicide.
Laser-Guided Karma: Corpsetaker tortured Mort with wraiths. Mort killed her for good with the same wraiths.
Last Name Basis: A mix between being the youngest present and the New Meat, Daniel Carpenter calls Will "Mr. Borden" and Waldo "Mr. Butters".
Late Arrival Spoiler: Present in some of the later books, but Ghost Story takes this to new heights: it is impossible to discuss its plot (Who Dunnit To Me) without giving away the last few pages of Changes.
Light Is Not Good: Sunrise is lethal to ghosts (good or evil) caught outside of a sanctum. Harry muses that while sunrise isn't exactly a cleansing force of Good and Right, it is one hell of a cleansing force.
Magically-Binding Contract: Butters makes one with Bob that is twenty pages long so Bob can spend time in Butters during some dinners.
Master of Illusion: Molly has become this by the story starts. She can make William think he has been kidnapped by the horrors of Nevernever, create Faux Flame, multiple copies of herself running around, and make dirty cops and agents of the fomor kill each other.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Harry wants desperately for Uriel to help save Molly from Corpsetaker, to give her some help as she is losing a mental battle. Uriel claims his hands are tied by Free Will as Molly chose to take on Corpsetaker despite being over two centuries her younger. Uriel wants to and notes that perhaps if he had the presence of mind to send some agent to balance the scales and give Molly a tiny bit of encouragement and flicker of inspiration, perhaps that could have tipped the scales and help Molly win . . . then Mortimer appears controlling Corpsetaker's own army of wraiths and saves Molly's life.
Meaningful Echo: Harry said in Changes the world could burn if it meant he would save his daughter. Uriel notes that his apprentice Molly and Karrin would suffer greatly as well. And because of his actions, they have suffered are suffering.
Meaningless Villain Victory: Harry ultimately realizes that, although he is the Winter Knight, Mab still doesn't have any ACTUAL power over him, allowing him to retain his free will and enabling him to determine HOW or even IF he follows Mab's orders. Which Harry really should have known, given what Lloyd Slate (Harry's predecessor as Winter Knight) was up to when Harry first found out that the fae courts had knights.
The Mentor: Nicholas Christian, Harry's PI mentor, makes an appearance in the book and helps out when Harry sends someone his way.
Must Have Caffeine: Ghost Captain Jack is a very grumpy person if he hasn't had his first cup of coffee. Unfortunately, since he is dead he has no need to drink and there is no coffee maker in his office.
Molly is fighting Coprsetaker and is on the verge of defeat (which would leave Corpsetaker in possession of a powerful and dangerous body). Not even Uriel could help, but then Mort comes in unexpectedly and saves the day.
Harry is weakened, barely alive, and Mab is smiling down upon him claiming she would turn him into her own monster. Then Archangel Uriel whispers unto Harry, "Lies. Mab cannot change who you are." It invigorates Harry as he realized that his soul is truly immalleable to the powers of Mab unless he allows it. He can still be him and need not turn into a Monster that he feared he would become.
Mort is one of a very narrow field. He can control ghosts with his magic and will and does it carefully enough to help make sure those that can't move on don't end up going crazy and kill people.
Corpsetaker/Grey Ghost shows similar abilities to Mort, such as ordering the ghosts under Harry's control to stop when fighting his authority over them and they listen. And of course, the body switching.
Nerves of Steel: Karrin has faced warlocks, a chlorofiend, emotion eating vampires, and stood with Harry against the Red Court. Will of the Alphas has faced vampires, ghouls, warlocks, and a Skinwalker. Father Forthill has faced vampires, and other dark forces in his life. Of the three, only the good Father is not scared by Molly's new persona, the prospect of her coming to a meeting, and her sudden arrival. He shows this again by going to face Aristides.
Nervous Wreck: Molly Carpenter becomes one in Ghost Story, following Harry's apparent death in the previous book and her own attempt to fill in his shoes as the magic defender of Chicago.
Never Found the Body: Murphy uses this to justify her belief that Harry isn't dead. Subverted when she then meets Harry's spirit. Double subverted when it turns out Harry's body was alive after all, taken and kept in a coma-like state by Demonreach, Mab, and "the parasite".
New Meat: Of the Chicago Alliance, Daniel Carpenter, son of Michael and Charity, is basically this. He is strong in a fight but doesn't always read the situations well and leads to some mistakes, like announcing in presence of a White Court vampire Karrin has two Swords of the Cross in her protection.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Mort tells Harry, all to late, that bringing the crazy ghosts with him to save Mort helped Corpsetaker because she now could feed on them, precisely what Mort was trying to avoid.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Mort tells Corpsetaker how epically stupid it was to leave him alive in a room filled with Wraiths. He then proceeds to use them to finally destroy her for good.
Non-Fatal Explosions: Justified, as Harry was already dead at the time. He even intentionally stood in front of the explosive just to see what an explosion is like from close up (not that impressive, it turns out).
Noodle Incident: Harry'd had some previous mishaps when he'd tried to fly with carpets or broomsticks, at least one of which wound up on the Internet as a UFO sighting.
No Sell: Illusion magic, while a powerful form of magic, is generally not regarded as strong as others by the White Council as their Sight can see through the lies.
Nothing Is the Same Anymore: By the end of the Changes/Ghost Story arc, you would be hard pressed to find anything about Harry's day-to-day life that has not irrevocably, well, changed.
Not Quite Dead: Harry, as it turns out, at the end of Ghost Story. His soul had just been separated from his body while said vessel was being kept alive by Mab, Demonreach, and a certain "parasite".
Not So Different: Harry tries to argue that Molly and Thomas aren't that different from him. Molly is the Rag Lady because of a lie Harry was told by a Fallen Angel. Thomas was tortured by a skinwalker. Averted because Uriel says Molly wasn't the one lied to by the Fallen. Her freewill was not influenced by one. And Thomas, though influenced by the torment, he is still alive and has a choice. So they are different than Harry's predicament.
Obligatory Joke: When Father Forthill is meeting with a young Fitz he asks if the person wishes to make a pedo-priest joke or would he like Forthill to give an opening for one.
In the first couple chapters of Ghost Story, Harry has a moment where he realizes that, as a ghost, he has no magic. As he's being attacked by a wraith.
In the last chapter, Harry does it again when he wakes up, alive... in Mab's lap. But then Uriel passes on his advice...
When Fitz realizes he is hearing the voice of Harry Dresden he has a minor one—which is then inverted, as the first thing that he remembers hearing about Harry is that he helps people, which helps solidify the at-the-time touchy alliance he and Harry had.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Because they are using unsecured CB radios, Murphy insists on only nicknames being used over the radio. So Butters is "Eyes" and the Alphas in general are "shadows".
Plausible Deniability: Harry notes that Uriel positioned himself before Harry with this as the mortal doesn't know whether the Archangel either ignored the evidence of Colin Murphy lying to Harry or was completely in the dark about Murphy's actions.
Police Are Useless: Invoked when Karrin notes that Warden Ramirez is very useful in combat situations, but when it comes to hunting down Molly, he really sucks. She suspects he is purposefully not working hard to locate Molly and take her head.
The most insane ghosts are the ones able to break through into the world of the living and interact with it.
Corpsetaker, as it turns out, wasn't insane enough already to be able to manifest from a Shade to a ghost able to screw with the world of the living. So she consumed the craziest of the shades under Mort's protection, giving her not just the memory power but sufficient insanity to break into the world of the living.
The Power of Creation: Bob notes that while he likely gave up 100 years or so of memories and magic when ordered by Harry back in Dead Beat, and thus created Evil Bob, Evil Bob would really only have the dark and destructive magics. Strong stuff, sure, but Harry's Bob has the knowledge of creation and construction, which he views as the harder and stronger stuff. Evil Bob would mostly know only how to destroy.
The Power of Love: When Aristides was badly beaten and Fitz stood up to him, defying him before Zero and the other runaways, Aristides tries to force Zero to attack Fitz with a magical compulsion, the one who genuinely cared for him, the one who would protect him and defend, who loved him like family, Fitz stood firm and ordered Zero to drop the weapon, to no longer listen to Aristides. The love of brotherhood between the two young boys was enough to wrest Zero free from Aristides' will and then all the boys.
Properly Paranoid: When dealing like scum and monsters like the Fomor, blood tests, security questions, and holding off on invitations are smart things. As a result, despite Mister, Molly, and Mort saying the shade is Harry, Butters has Bob shadow him when they went to save Father Forthill, presumably to kill if Harry was not Harry or went evil.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Leanansidhe rebukes Molly's claim that she was strong and fought with Harry at Chichén Itzá. The rebuker noted that Molly did but she was taken out of the fight because of a bullet from a muggle mercenary and nearly died from it.
Rerouted From Heaven: Harry encounters the above mentioned Angel of Death sent to a critically wounded Father Forthill to escort him safely to Heaven if he dies. She explains that Hell would steal even the souls of saints if they could get away with it. And the nether zone of the afterlife is unsafe enough that the souls working there need an angel security guard.
The Reveal: The identity of Harry's murderer. Back in Changes, a Fallen Angel lied to Harry Dresden by saying everything that had happened was his fault, pushing him to order a hit on himself by Kincaid.
Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Averted. Unlike the previous Winter Knight Lloyd Slate who betrayed his Queen, Harry's attempt to cheat Mab by getting around their deal, even having the forethought that she would make him promise to not commit suicide or have someone kill him in an ambush, was met with approval and joy to The Chessmaster Queen. She wants that intelligence and cunning in her Knight.
Rule of Three: In exchange for a tale of Harry's past she didn't know, Lea agrees to answer three questions.
Rule of Seven: A Fallen Angel spoke seven words to Harry back in Changes. These seven words were a Lie. To balance the scales, Uriel spoke seven words of pure Truth.
Rules Lawyer: Because Lea took up Harry's mantle of Molly's Mentor, he argues that if Lea is meant to emulate his style, if being harsher about it, then she must give Molly enough money for some food and a place to warm up on the cold night. Lea resists but Harry points out these are her own rules she previously stated, so she must follow through on his demand.
Saintly Church: St. Mary's makes another appearance. And unlike the last time a ghost tried to enter back in Grave Peril Harry could enter the holy place.
Schedule Slip: Ghost Story was originally scheduled for release in April 2011, before being delayed until July 2011.
Said Jim (paraphrased): It came down to, readers could either get a half-assed story in April, or a full-assed one in July!
Scylla and Charybdis: Lea, Harry's godmother, ends up in this situation as she has two obligations she must fulfill. First, she must honor her word to Harry and answer the his question about who killed him. On the other side she is bound, presumably by Mab, to not tell Harry who killed him. She is forced to fulfill both by using Exact Words and being true from a certain point of view.
First, Harry tells Fitz a safe place he can rest up in is St. Mary's.
Later, to save the children Aristides had under his control from both the police and a pissed off Murphy, Molly gets them taken not to St. Mary's, but her father and mother knowing that there is one place Murphy wouldn't go after them for the crimes they committed.
The Better Future Society's main location is a good place for those in the Chicago Alliance or Paranetters or other visiting people to rest up.
Semper Fi: Sir Stuart is a truly badass Marine hailing from the Colonial Army in the American Revolutionary War. Death has not stopped this giant of a man from being a dangerous fighting force against other shades.
Ghosts can do this to a receptive mortal. Morty can not only summon multiple ghosts into him, he inherits their memories, and thus skill sets. Harry later jumps into Molly to save her life.
Harry has all the Lecter Specters and Guardian Ghosts enter him before he enters the Corsetaker's base to allow the surprise ambush to work.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: There are two significant instances of this: first, when Harry tells Evil Bob to take his We Can Rule Together offer and shove it because he will never belong to the Dark Side, and second, when Harry tells off Mab herself at the end, vowing that he is not hers and will decide if, when, and how he carries out her orders.
The Sociopath: Wraiths and what Harry dubbed the Lecter Specters only care to indulge their own desires and wants. The danger of the later is they can manifest into the real world and enact their desires there.
So Proud of You: Harry is worried Mab would be pissed when his suicide gambit tried and failed at getting around the promise he would make to her. Mab isn't. She's delighted at the brillaince and ingenuity of Harry's plot and if Harry hadn't fallen into her domain, the cold, dark waters of the lake, it might have worked.
To sneak into the den of a sorcerer and rescue his band of thieving street urchins, Butters and Daniel Carpenter disguise themselves as Wardens in order to put the sorcerer off his guard. It very nearly works... until the sorcerer points out that neither of them carries the trademark enchanted swords a Warden usually has. Subverted in that because Luccio is incapable of making new swords, none of the Wardens since Harry have swords. But because the swords are so associated with the Wardens Baldy wouldn't have known anyway and Butters big mistake was hesitating when he could have made up a believable story.
Harry: The hell of it was that he was coming to a correct conclusion from incorrect assumptions.
Many characters who are experts in the spirits, like Father Forthill and Morty note there is something queer about Harry's ghost. Morty bases this on a magical scan and Forthill by Harry entering St. Mary's which should block all ghosts. Whatever is the reason for these differences, they don't know but Morty is scared this some trick aimed to capture him. It is later revealed these suspicions were founded as Harry was different from ghosts because he isn't one. He is an astral projection and what's running around is his pure soul without the protection of the shade.
Spring Is Late: Chicago sees regular snowfall well into May due to the fact that Queen Mab herself is in the city, keeping Harry's body warm.
Squick: In-universe. Harry tries to explain how ghosts "feel" injury or discomfort by drawing analogies to this trope. He also experiences it more directly when the Lecter Specters tear into Evil Bob's Ghostapo demon-wolf troops.
Stealth Pun: Flickum Bicus is actually kinda subtle unless you regularly flick your bic. Ghost Story outright explains this one, though: when Harry was training under Justin DuMorne, he tried to cheat at a magical fire-lighting test with a lighter, causing Justin to remark "You won't always be able to flick your Bic." When Harry finally does light the candle with magic, he uses "Flickum Bicus" as the invocation as a nod to Justin's lecture.
Willie let out a high-pitched scream as we narrowly avoided being smashed by a truck. Seriously. It was her. Nobody can prove otherwise.
Sympathy for the Devil: Uriel reveals he does have some sympathy for naagloshii, for the pain they have and lies they must tells themselves to attain some false sense of peace.
Take Up My Sword: When the gravely-wounded spirit of Sir Stuart throws Harry his gun. Harry initially thinks he's been given a powerful one-use weapon, but later figures out that it is actually a symbol of Sir Stuart's authority that allows Harry to rally Mort's spirit friends and take on Sir Stuart's former position as their commander, leading them into battle to rescue Mort.
Taking You with Me: When Molly is fighting Corpsetaker in her mind, Spock!Molly side wants to burn the mind while Corpsetaker is inside. Kirk!Molly wants to find another solution. It takes an idea from Harry to avert this from happening.
Talking in Your Sleep: An interesting version in Ghost Story: Harry the ghost doesn't need to sleep, but has to retreat to his grave lest the sun wash him away. While there, with nothing else to do, he ends up recalling past memories with picture perfect clarity (an explicit power of sentient ghosts), and is only jostled from them when in turns out Lea has been watching them along with him. It's never explicitly stated how this happens, and Harry naturally finds the constant interruption annoying.
Teleport Spam: Ghosts who know how to "vanish" (which is essentially ghostly teleportation) use this when they fight. Harry and Corpsetaker have a magical duel while teleporting around a cavern, including teleporting inside solid structures like walls to duke it out.
Tempting Fate: Harry is able to convince Mort to help him. Mort agrees to give Harry one hour of his time, stating that nothing serious should happen. With these words, Harry knew Mort was serious when he said he wasn't a hero.
Harry: Heroes know better than to hand the universe lines like that.
Terms of Endangerment: He Who Walks Behind was practically cooing to sixteen-year-old Harry when the creature was menacing him in the flashback. Creepy as hell.
Terror Hero: Molly becomes a Type 4 deliberately to try to impose order in the city.
They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Harry learns quickly, Uriel will never tolerate his name being familiarized into "Uri." He will, however, accept "Mr. Sunshine" as another nickname.
Thirteen Is Unlucky: This is the thirteenth book in the series, and Harry is dead. Well, until the end. Or, depending on your point of view, he never was dead in the first place.
Throwing Down the Gauntlet: When trying to stop Corpsetaker from leaving with Butter's body, Molly results to throwing a mental battle at Corpsetaker as a final means of delaying her and save her friend's life.
Time Abyss: Harry meets Uriel at the end of the book, who has been around since before the Universe existed (roughly speaking that is 13.798 billion years plus or minus 37 million years), before even Time existed. And Uriel reveals that he likes watching Star Wars because it makes him feel "young."
Time Skip: Takes place six months after Changes, and a lot has changed in Harry's absence.
A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: It is revealed Harry went through this with his planning his own assassination. His back was broken and saw no way to save Maggie but got to Mab and become her Knight. He couldn't stand the thought of becoming a monster and arranged for Kincaid to kill him after Maggie was saved and Molly to remove the memories of the plot. It is then revealed this was invoked by a Fallen whispering a lie to Harry nearing a Moment of Weakness to shove him into a tragedy by adding an incredible weight of guilt to his mind.
Training from Hell: How Lea trains Molly after Harry's death. She even calls a pack of mid-level Fomor mooks against an exhausted and malnourished Molly and expects her to handle it. Then, when Harry predictably intervenes, she reveals that she used that particular sequence to train them BOTH at the same time. The Fae are NOT to be taken lightly. After this episode, Harry begrudgingly admits that she might have a point and that, by going relatively easy, he might not have done the best job of preparing Molly for just what kinds of trauma and hardship she'll naturally be exposed to as a wizard, especially as a psychic sensitive.
True Companions: Harry realizes the depth of the love Michael and Charity have for him by accepting his daughter Maggie (and Mouse) into their house and loving her like their own.
Trust Password: Besides the above mentioned questions to Harry to prove himself, Harry tells Fitz the homeless teen to Nicholas Christian. He has the person repeat a moment from his and Harry's past to get Nicholas' help.
Tyke Bomb: Bob postulates He Who Walks Behind could have wanted to turn Harry into one, as Harry was a weak little squirt against an ancient and powerful evil, by getting Harry angry enough to kill him, so Harry would go back and try to kill his mentor Justin.
Underestimating Badassery: Lara mentions in Tun Coat she has files on plenty of Wardens. So it would be likely she has files on Harry's friends, especially those who joined him to fight the Red Court in Changes. So, Felicia the White Court rep for the Chicago Alliance meeting thinks she can blackmail Karrin into being fed on or she would reveal the Swords are in her care. Karrin pistol whips the woman, slams her face into a hot teapot and breaks the coffee table beneath it and then throws the vampire out with a warning Karrin would come to kill her if the White Court even blinks in the direction of the Swords.
Unfinished Business: Ghost Story. Mort reveals nearly every shade still exists because of this issue. Some unfinished ordeal and Mort tries his best to help move on. Those who cannot generally come under his command to keep them from being a danger should they go crazy. However, Harry finding out who killed him is actually not that important. Saving his friends one last time might not have been that important either; the book's Big Bad quite possibly would have been stopped without Harry's intervention. However, it was important to him that he make sure his loved ones were OK and say goodbye properly to Molly. And he had to go through the entire book to put Uriel's scale-balancing advice in the proper context.
Unreliable Narrator: Happens once again, when it turns out that Harry arranged for his own death with Kincaid before accepting the mantle of the Winter Knight, then had Molly erase his memory of it.
Unskilled, but Strong: Molly's penchant for illusion magic. As mentioned under No Sell, not that impressive by White Council standards. It is, however, a powerful tool against the unskilled in magic and those who cannot open their Sight.
Vampire Invitation: Harry repeatedly required a direct invitation from owners of homes, like Karrin, to enter their domicile. The fact the Big Hoods sleep and live in Corpsetaker's base gives it a significant threshold. It is potent enough that Murphy must gently coerce one of the mind-addled Big Hoods to invite Molly and Harry through.
Evil Bob was more interested in gloating and trying to make Harry become his apprentice than just smiting the shade of a wizard. And then he believed his progenitor's words about the path and didn't rush to stop Harry from escaping.
Corpsetaker shouldn't have let Mort continue to live or shop for a good body when a powerful ectomancer was in the area with a bunch of spirits near by.
An agent of the Fomor is clear to note to Corpsetaker and Evil Bob he is completely replaceable. If the ones he is speaking to wish to kill him to make a message, another will take his place to serve his ancient lord
Harry bluntly tells Fitz that because Aristides was not only seen injured by his crew of children but Fitz was how the attackers got into the stronghold, even if they didn't fight him now, he was no longer an invincible powerhouse in their minds. So, it would be easier to just kill the whole crew and start from scratch again.
Wham Line: "They've been like that ever since they killed you."
Father Forthill calls Molly out on her disrespectful attitude towards Karrin and others, citing that if she truly wished to be treated as an adult, she best start comporting herself as one, which includes giving due respect to her host and ally (Karrin).
Harry looks upon Uriel and tells him to not even try the "Mysterious Ways"-BS and things he is not meant to know before making him choose whether to go onto the next train or stay on Earth as a shade. He was twice screwed with, once by a Fallen lying to him, and the other by Captain Jack's lie of vagueness. He deserves to have some key questions answered if Uriel is all about openness and honesty.
Who Dunnit To Me: The job that Captain Jack from "between" sends Ghost Harry to find out in Ghost Story.
Would Hurt a Child: The Fomor have no qualms about going after children to get people to serve them. So the Better Future Society has a daycare in its HQ to help protect them.
You Are Not Alone: Molly's current path and choices leaves her going at things alone. When Karrin and Father Forthill try to get her see she isn't alone, she rebukes them and ignores them. While training with the Leanansidhe, Harry's godmother tries to teach Molly she isn't alone and needs others to survive. She does this by pushing her to her limit and then summoned servants of the Fomor to attack. Had Harry not been present, she would have died and she makes it clear Molly knows this when things are over.
It comes as a surprise to Dresden that Butters and Lea can see him. He's also surprised when he comes across someone else who can hear him.
Also that Toto can sense him enough to bark at him through the window, or that Mister can not only sense him, but can still body-slam his shins in greeting.
You Owe Me: Harry bluntly tells Archangel Uriel he is owed some straight up answers to allow him to make an informed choice. Uriel, after a moment, sees that Harry has been jerked around by one of his subordinates to come back to Chicago and was lied to by a Fallen. So, he agrees to give Harry the information he asks for.
Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Harry has a slightly downplayed version when Lea says his explanation of what happened at the climax of Changes is "Spoken as someone worthy to wield power" he replies that coming from her "that's a little unsettling actually".