Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Blood Rites

Go To

Warning! All spoilers for previous books are unmarked on this page!

Harry Dresden never thought he would have to go undercover at a porn studio. However, with the director convinced he is under a curse, and his girls dying left and right, Harry poses as a production assistant and tries to find the culprit, at the request of a flirtatious and metrosexual vampire ally named Thomas. However, the biggest surprise has little to do with curses...

Blood Rites is book #6 in The Dresden Files. Not to be confused with the gory exploitation flick of the same name.

Blood Rites provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Karrin finds out at her family reunion that her ex-husband is now engaged to her sister, something that obviously causes a lot of emotional distress. Her mother not only knew about it but chooses to use this public occasion to chastise her for not being a good enough wife for the man. This utter disregard for how Karrin would perceive this development, dismissal of her feelings, and criticism of Karrin's life choices all in the same moment would usually be considered emotional abuse.
    • Lord Raith is a truly monstrous example, feeding on his own daughters to break their will and killing off his sons to keep them from overthrowing him.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Trixie Vixen is so self-absorbed and vapid that she cannot remember Harry's name (though she never forgets that he never got her a latte, which she never ordered). This works in Harry's favor near the book's climax, as when she tries to frame him for a murder, she does not get his name right, allowing him to drive to the Raith household and stop the entropy ritual that the bad guys are doing.
  • The Alleged Car: The first thing Murphy asks when she sees Ebenezer's car, which seems to have been manufactured sometime during the 1930s, potentially older, is if it ran on coal.
    • Meanwhile, the running gag of Harry's not-blue Blue Beetle gets even crappier: it loses its upholstery as a result of mold demons.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Somewhat parodied. The White Court of vampires has owned the sex industry for centuries at a minimum. And Arturo is a threat to that with his new ideas.
  • Ancient Grome: Arturo is described as looking Mediterranean, and he has dual citizenship with America and Greece. However, he talks to Harry about stregas (witches) and the malocchio (the Evil Eye), both of which are Italian folklore.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Mouse, though a puppy, is moving around, barking, growling, playing with toys, and generally aware of his surroundings, indicating he's at least a few weeks old and weaned off his mother. He also spends a chunk of the book riding around in Harry's coat pocket. However, dogs the size Mouse becomes are already much larger at that age. Mouse would only have fit in Harry's pocket if he was hours or days old. Possibly a Justified Trope considering the mystical nature of Mouse's heritage.
  • Asshole Victim: All three of Arturo's ex-wifes.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Lord Raith is the King of The White Court vampires and is clearly the most powerful of them, physically and magically, despite being weakened.
  • Awesome McCoolname: One of the younger actors only recently finished his first film, and has not yet picked a stage name. Bobby considers names like "Rocko Stone" or "Rack McGranite". Finally, at Jake's suggestion, he goes with "Gowan Commando."
  • Batman Cold Open: The novel begins in a burning building, and what goes on there is not directly related to the rest of the story, but it is where Harry finds Mouse, who becomes a big character throughout the rest of the series.
    The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault.
  • Been There, Shaped History: McCoy is an old wizard who cut his teeth during the French and Indian War (1754–1763). So, he's been here and there. Two notable events mentioned he witnessed and as the assassin of the White Council had a hand in causing the destruction of the island Krakatoa in 1883 and The Tunguska Event, the meteor strike in Russia 1908.
  • Berserk Button: When Emma explains that the severe scars left on a survivor of the entropy curse will stop her from acting in porn again, Harry says that "It could be worse", meaning that she would have died if Harry hadn't been right on hand. Emma interprets this as 'she doesn't have to do this awful job anymore', blows her top and starts ranting about how porn is no less a legitimate profession than any other.
  • Big Bad: Lord Raith.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Thomas puts his own life on the line to protect Inari. He later admits that this is the reason he's been helping Harry over the past few years.
      • Inari actually gets a chance to turn this back on him by smashing Harry over the head with his blasting staff after she thinks he shot her older brother.
    • Lara honestly loves and cares about her younger siblings, but at the start of the book, she isn't willing to go against her father to protect them. Once Harry's shown her Lord Raith's comparative weakness, and baited him into admitting that he considers her expendable, she's willing to move against him to protect Thomas.

  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: House Raith. Based on the below, Lord Raith is clearly Father of the Year Material.
    • First, Lord Raith generally kills off every one of his sons to keep them from being a threat. Thomas has been avoiding this just barely the past few years.
    • Second Lord Raith rapes and feeds on his daughters to dominate and break their wills, making them his slaves.
    • Third Lord Raith forbids his children on pain of death from telling their younger siblings that they're vampires, to ensure all children become incubi/succubi by killing their first lover during their first vampiric feeding, before they understand what's going on.
    • Finally Lord Raith sees his broken daughters just as disposable as the sons if they become too troublesome. Even his most loyal and devoted Lara would be killed if he needed it to happen.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Inari (稲荷) is the Japanese fox god, and there are lots of stories about shapeshifting fox-women seducing young men and sucking out all their marrow. Also, her favorite food is fried tofu. What sort of pizza topping does Inari offer Harry?
  • The Body Parts That Must Not Be Named: Harry is on the phone with Murphy, updating her about the client he's been hired to work for, who happens to be a porn mogul. At this point in the series, Harry has not gotten over his chivalrous streak, so when he has to tell Murphy about the porn mogul's propensity for using women with natural breasts instead of those with fake breasts, he stumbles on how to convey it to her without actually saying the word. Murphy then gleefully fires off as many synonyms for breasts as she can until Harry is a blushing, flustered mess and begs her to stop it. She then calls him "cute" and they move on with the conversation.
  • Brainless Beauty: Trixie Vixen. Her being unable to get Harry's name right is a Chekhov's Gag later in the book where it turns out that since she either is not smart enough to remember or just does not care, when the time comes for his name to be vital (in framing him for a murder) she gave the police the wrong name, when Harry had been scared that the police were going to be on his doorstep any minute.
  • Break Them by Talking: Harry gives Thomas a downright nasty one of these after Thomas seemingly kills Justine by feeding on her.
I stopped. His (Thomas's) voice was raw with emotion, and sounded like he was trying to speak through a throat full of bitter mud. "I wanted you to know. Justine... I tried to stop in time. I didn't want to hurt her. Never."
"Yeah." I said. "You had good intentions. That makes it all right."
He folded his arms over his stomach, as if nauseous, and bowed his head. His long hair veiled his face. "I never pretended I wasn't... a predator, Harry. I never claimed she was anything but what she was. Food. You knew it. She knew it. I didn't lie to anyone."
I had a bunch of vicious answers I could have gone with, but I went with "Before she went to you last night, Justine asked me to tell you that she loved you."
Short of shoving a running chainsaw into Thomas's guts, I don't think I could have hurt him any more.
  • Brick Joke:
    • A crude one about Murphy and her motorcycle.
      Dresden: It's not my fault all women like motorcycles, Murphy. They're basically huge vibrators. With wheels.
    • Later, After Harry and Murphy survive jousting with a truck on her bike, Murphy is laughing hysterically.
      Dresden: What? Why are you laughing?
      Murphy: I think you were right about the vibrator thing.
    • When Jake Guffie asks what Harry is doing on set, as Harry prepares to defend the location from the dark forces and Harry explains, Jake notes it's like feng shui. After the climax, Jake, Bobby, and Inari go to California to start a feng shui consulting business.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • From the previous book, Harry and Susan having some kinky sex. Because of this and their act of love and trust qualifies as an act of True Love, Harry is protected by it from the influences of the House Raith vampires.
    • A minor one. When Harry wakes after the night of Mavra's first attempt on him, Harry has already planned on hunting the vampire down. He mentions making two phone calls and leaving messages on machines. These calls would be to Ebenezer and Kincaid.
    • After a fight, Harry learns about the White Court reserves and how stressed a vampire must be to risk using it and the fact even after using the emergency reserves they aren't back to even a decent fighting level. Comes in handy with plotting Lord Raith's defeat.
    • Unlike Harry, Arturo is not affected by Lara at all. Harry realizes later it was because he is genuinely in love with a woman.
    • When Harry first meets Madge, he doesn't consider the fact she is carrying lots of plates and cups, so she couldn't even shake hands, a big deal. At the end, he realizes she is a decently powerful practitioner. If they had touched hands, he would have known that about her.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Lara mentions House Skavis and House Malvora in passing. They become much more important in Proven Guilty and White Night.
    • Lara and Thomas also discuss Madrigal and Madeline Raith. Both would become key plot points later.
  • The Clan: Clan Murphy makes an appearance with their family reunion and in it Harry meets Karrin's siblings, cousins, and her mother. And Karrin's soon to be brother-in-law, her second ex-husband.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Kincaid shows this in most of his plans. Black Court Vampire trouble? Kincaid's suggestion is to toss gasoline in the place, burn it down, and then burn whatever remains. Got a wizard need taking out? Death by sniper rifle from a long distance away, so sudden and quick there is little chance of a Death Curse in retaliation.
    • McCoy has some similar tendencies as Harry realizes he dropped the satellite on Ortega in the last book, likely from a safe distance.
  • Compensating for Something: After looking between his broken blasting rod and Kincaid's large, high-tech vampire blasting spear, Harry flat-out says, "My dick is bigger than your dick."
  • Complexity Addiction: Pretty much the only reason Lord Raith lost. Why still rely on an elaborate, taking a long time to cast, ritual to murder your enemy who conveniently delivered himself straight into your hands already? Just smash his skull, preferably at the moment when he can't see his death coming! You'd still have Murphy in your hands to do all the Evil Gloating you want after your power is restored. The book even lampshades the fact that he's acting like a movie villain.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Harry returns the Temple Dog puppies to Brother Wang in the chapel at O'Hare. The airport has completely redecorated it after it was desecrated and used for a blood ritual in the previous book.
    • The Snoopy doll Dresden used against the loup-garou in Fool Moon shows up when he visits the SI offices. You can barely notice the bloodstains anymore.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Defied. Harry attempts to block a flamethrower blast with his shield, causing the hand attached to his shield bracelet to get so badly burnt that it takes years to get better, and that's only because wizards have superior healing ability and Ebenezer manages to restore some blood flow soon after.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Averted, unlike previous incidents in the series. The CPR risks makings things worse, is so exhausting it takes two people switching off, and doesn't really do much over all.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Several women around Arturo suffer these, one included being hit by a car ... while water skiing. Harry saves another girl from being slammed by a frozen turkey falling at terminal velocity by transferring the target to a Black Court vampire.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger: Happens to one of Raith's bodyguards after Murphy puts a few bullets in him for trying to kill Harry, Lara and the others.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Harry speaks to his mother this way, though she’s not a ghost.
  • Deus ex Machina: Thomas finding Kincaid's business card in Harry's clothing, realizing that Harry needs to pay the man (how did Thomas know how much Harry owed him anyway?), and using pretty much all of his life's savings to pay off the debt conveniently saves Harry from being killed by Kincaid for reneging on a debt.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • A frozen turkey falling at terminal velocity nearly killing a Black Court vampire is one such incident. It brought the fight to a momentary standstill just because of its implausibility. It's specifically mentioned that, even by the standards of the semi-immortal, that is not a trick you see twice.
      Harry: For my next trick: anvils!
    • A case of two persons not seeing just where Dresden has connections. Kincaid and McCoy know each other and Kincaid is generally scared of the old wizard. Considering McCoy is pissed at him for a previous contract and the first thing he does is nearly kill Kincaid on sight, fear is appropriate. Both are shocked Harry knows the other and called them in on the mission.
    • None of the entropy-curse conspirators seems to have even suspected that it was average-looking Joan whom Arturo had fallen in love with, which means that none of the curse-induced "accidents" could have achieved its intended purpose.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Harry hiring a cold-hearted mercenary to help him take out some vampires despite knowing he can in no way afford the man's services, and the mercenary will almost certainly kill him if he gets stiffed. Made especially worse considering the man is risking his life for Harry when Harry is essentially lying to him about payment. It might have been better if Harry had made some kind of effort to obtain alternative allies or sources of cash to pay Kincaid.
    • As Ebenezar pointed out, Mavra has the power of a wizard, so is theoretically also capable of the Death Curse, and Harry has taken no precautions against it. Harry has to admit he didn't think of it.
  • Disease Bleach: Justine after barely surviving being fed on by a near-death Thomas. When she's seen afterwards, she's in a wheelchair and can barely speak.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Bob has always had this trait, but it's lampshaded in this book. As Harry says, "a pretty face can inspire even a bodiless spirit of intellect to dizzying heights of idiocy."
  • Double Entendre: All over the place, especially during the fight with Lord Raith and his inability to *ahem* "feed".
  • Dramatic Chase Opening: The book opens with Harry being chased by demonic chimps that fling incendiary poo.
    The building was on fire and it wasn't my fault.
  • The Dreaded: It may not have stuck around long, but one of Harry's greatest nightmares has returned— He Who Walks Behind. And it remembers him.
  • Dress Hits Floor: Lara does this after Lord Raith's Engineered Public Confession that he never cared about his daughter Lara and that he's lost his ability to feed. Lara resolves their differences in the traditional White Court manner. Namely, cranking up her Succubus powers to rape her father into submission just as he had been doing to her. Harry and company see as far as this before they have to run for it to keep their own minds.
  • The Dutiful Son: Lara Raith is this towards her father, always there to help him take care of some of his problems. When she learns even she is considered disposable genetic stock and her father has been hiding a debilitating curse that keeps him from feeding, so his vampiric energy reserves are depleted, she doesn't kill him but makes him hers to command and rule the house as a Puppet Lord.
  • Eldritch Abomination: This is the book where we get our first look at He Who Walks Behind. Harry's fearful descriptions of it in past books are now totally understandable.
  • Electrified Bathtub: An actress is nearly killed when a huge industrial light falls into the puddle created after a burst of scalding water causes her to fall through and break a glass shower door.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Discussed at the beginning of the book when Harry talks about about two previous cases in Summer Knight and Death Masks in which he prevented the next ice age, and then stopped what would have been a very nasty plague.
    Harry: I helped to do it and lived to walk away. But there was an unhappy ending.
    Thomas: What?
    Harry: I didn't get paid. For either case. I make more money from flaming demon monkey crap. That's just wrong.
  • Engineered Public Confession: After fighting Lord Raith to the point he needs to use his reserves to not be killed by Harry, Harry goads Raith into admitting Harry's mother cursed Raith so he could no longer feed and he had just tapped his last bits of reserve. This may make him more than enough for a weary Harry, but Lara, who heard this, is beyond him now and she will make sure he knows it.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When Harry is rushing out with the box of puppies, one of them with a notch in his ear is standing up against the side barking his head off at the demons chasing them while all the other puppies are staying low. That little puppy would be an unnamed Mouse.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Harry saves a litter of them at the start and one decides to stick around with him. Even at a young age and small size, the pup can sense evil actions, like Black Court vampires or when a White Court is feeding.
  • Evil Is Petty: The entire motivation of the main villains.
    • Lord Raith wants to discredit Arturo because he's interfering with the White Court's monopoly on the porn market.
    • The three women Raith's working the entropy curse with are all Arturo's ex-wives who want to kill the woman Arturo wants to marry so they can keep their full shares of his alimony checks and will. However, on closer inspection it's even more petty than that, because their killing of women around Arturo is pretty much guaranteed to drive him into bankruptcy when the production fails, rendering their checks and his will virtually worthless. It may have started being about money for the ex-es, but it's pretty clear they're really out to get back at him, his new girlfriend, and/or one another. They also can't be bothered to make certain of their target before they start killing, resulting in the deaths of several women who have nothing to do with their dispute, almost including Inari, which would have been the end of those ladies.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Invoked by Harry's mother Margaret with her Death Curse. She couldn't kill Lord Raith, so she prevented him from feeding, leaving the man crippled. And if he were to ever reveal the truth he would be turned on by his own "loyal" family. Further noted by Butcher had she just killed him, another would have taken his place but this single act turned his expansionist agenda back to total defense and fear of infighting. None of the Court could advance far because the King wouldn't permit it.
    • Becoming a Renfield under the control of a Black Court Vampire is undoutably this. Unlike other thralls, a renfield is a permanent servant of a Black Court vampire and no amount of The Power of Love or "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight will save them. Even if you destroy their master, they will simply be an Empty Shell becoming more violent and insane as time goes on. In order to make a Renfield - the perfect, permanent, obedient slave a Black Court Vampire needs - they essentially destroy a person's mind and sense of self while leaving nothing but a desire to serve their master. They can't be fixed because there is nothing of the original person in there. Even worse is that it's only mentioned that personality is destroyed but nothing specifically about memory. The violent madness may be a product of having the memories of their life but not the realization or understanding of what they are seeing or experience. Like a phantom limb that aches.
  • Fear Is the Appropriate Response:
    • Kincaid is a badass, as seen in the previous book. He is cool under pressure and knows how to handle a wizard's death curse. That said, he is terrified of McCoy, the personal hitman of the White Council. Considering the one he fears dropped a satellite on his enemy's fortress and who knows what other dark magics for the greater good, and swore to kill Kincaid if they ever crossed paths again, his fear is not unfounded.
    • Kincaid even notes that a raid on a Black Court lair is nearly suicidal. Despite that, he comes up with enough military-grade hardware and a plan worthy of a spec-ops team that could take them out with relative ease, even if he's rather blasé about hostage casualties.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
    • Youngest child Lisa is the foolish one to her elder, and eldest sibling, Karrin Murphy. Karrin is the hard-nosed cop with a strong drive. Karrin describes Lisa as being a very loose woman with no real focus.
    • To House Raith, Lara Raith is the responsible one as she continues to serve her father and do his various jobs. Thomas appears to be an aloof fool.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After talking Murphy through her worries about her family reunion, Harry mentions that he wishes he knew what his mother's voice sounds like. He gets his wish.
    • Harry's entire internal monologue about how otherwise rational people turn crazy when their families get involved is both this and Hilarious in Hindsight considering the fact that he drops everything in order to help take down Lord Raith the second he finds out that Thomas is his half-brother.
  • The Force Is Strong with This One: Harry notes that practitioners of magic, in particular decently strong to White Council level, can feel the magic in another person by shaking their hands. For this reason, Madge is careful to not shake Harry's hands when they meet.
  • Freud Was Right: Obvious in the final chapters of the book, to the point that it was even Lampshaded by Harry in the narrative.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Because Lord Raith said so. Through the medium of the porn industry, most of which he controls, his desires and sexual fetishes have slowly influenced the world's view on beauty and attractiveness.
  • Glamour Failure / The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Literally in the case of the White Court; there are hints that their supernatural beauty and psychic allure don't translate through film or mirrors.
  • Guns Akimbo: Lara Raith's first fight scene involves her wielding two very small pistols and a lot of lingerie.
  • Heroism Won't Pay the Bills: What does Dresden consider the great tragedy of both Summer Knight and Death Masks after all is said and done? After saving the world twice he didn't make a dime off of it.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: Used by a minor villain to justify their killing of a young single mother with two kids.
    Harry: For god's sake Trixie, she's got kids.
    Trixie Vixen: So did Hitler.
    Harry: No, he had dogs.
  • Hitman with a Heart:
    • Upon learning Mavra and her scourge are in town, Kincaid's suggestion is to toss gasoline in the place, burn it down, and then burn whatever remains. He even says this when told there are likely hostages inside. But when the battle is over, and he sees the hostages are young children, some younger than five years old, he admits that the less efficient raid Harry wanted might have been a better choice.
    • Ebenezer "Blackstaff" McCoy is the personal hitman of the White Council, with the power and full authority to break any of the seven laws of magic. He usually only did it when inaction and adherence to the strict laws would end up making the world a worse place.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Of the three courts, the Black Court suffers worst from this. Harry keeps holy water balloons in his car to use against ambushing vampires.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Arturo. When he realizes something bad is happening, he seeks magical help. When told he could try to save others by shutting down production, he considers it. He uses all natural footage, no digital or surgical enhancements of any sort, and uses people of any age and size. This in fact is one of the biggest issues the Big Bad has with him, as these practices are against the norm but are making waves and changes to the porn industry.
  • Hypocrite: Harry is furious at the revelation the man who took him in after killing Justin and taught him to respect the Laws of Magic is the one person in the Council with the authority to violate the laws as the Council's hitman.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Lord Raith tries this on Murphy, but Murphy being Murphy throws a wrench into his plans.
  • In Medias Res: As the book opens, Harry is escaping a burning building carrying a box of puppies while being chased by winged monkey demons flinging incendiary poo.
    The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault.
  • Irony: Arturo's three ex-wives specifically targeted all the young pretty women on the movie set because they saw them as the most likely candidates to fit Arturo's tastes, and thus be his new wife, who was their actual target. At the end of the book, said new wife turns out to be Joan, the one woman they didn't bother to target due to her average appearance not matching what they thought were Arturo's tastes.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Trixie, ex-wife #3, is this ten times over.
    • Lord Raith's view to his family. His children are there to service him and his needs. See Big, Screwed-Up Family for more details.
  • I Want Grandkids: Mama Murphy would really like her eldest daughter to have some kids by now. It's one of the things they fight about.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • Kincaid's go-to method to dealing with a scourge? Bomb the nest, burn the remains, put fire out and burn the rest. Hostages be damned.
    • Some of Mavra's agents wield flamethrowers at Kincaid, Harry, and, Murphy. Harry's shield blocks the actual flames but Mavra guessed, correctly, that it wouldn't block the heat of the fire and results in Harry baking his own hand.
  • Kill It with Water: Because Harry and Murphy nix the killing with fire idea, Kincaid plans ahead and hands Harry a paintball gun filled with rounds containing holy water and garlic. Safe against humans but would devastate a Black Court vampire.
  • Knight Templar Big Sister: Played with in regards to Lara Raith. She's violently protective of her younger siblings... to the point where she's willing to kill Thomas to protect him from their father's wrath.
  • Little Stowaway: A small puppy from the litter Harry saved decided to stay with him and climbed out of the box in his car and hid under a seat.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Fear that this trope may strike during filming is why Bobby reacts badly to Harry's "stunt man" joke.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Thomas is Harry's half-brother. Another one makes an appearance in the book, but Harry doesn't know it yet.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Thomas Raith is Harry's half-brother. Lampshaded by Harry:
    A half-hysterical chuckle slipped out of my mouth. "Wait, I've seen this one before. This is where you say, 'Search your feelings; you know it to be true.'"
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Because Harry is protected by the laws of hospitality, Papa Raith can’t just snap his neck, so, he sends his young, maturing daughter to Harry in hopes her Hunger will awaken, causing her to drain Harry dead and the White Council will get a sad apology for this tragic accident.
  • Mercy Kill: Considering what a monster among monsters her father is, Lara considers just shooting Thomas to stop his attempted coup.
  • Mexican Standoff: Harry ends up in one with Lara Raith. Both know secrets of the other, Harry being Thomas' brother and Lara being the power behind the throne, that should be revealed would be the destruction of each other. So they agree to not reveal them for a few agreeable terms.
  • Mind Rape: Thomas mentions to Harry that his father uses this, mixed in with the regular kind to establish dominance and solve family disputes. Yes, family disputes, though Lord Raith sticks to females. It's also how Lara deposes her father, and turns him into her slave.
    • Lord Raith attempts one on Murphy in the climax, and it nearly succeeds. If he'd still been able to feed and not living off reserves, then he would have definitely broken her.
  • The Missus and the Ex
    • Murphy deals with this, with her as the Ex, and her second husband being engaged to her sister. She is not pleased with this fact.
    • Arturo has three ex's he works with, and one lady he plans on wedding who truly makes him happy. They don't approve, as she would have power of attorney over his estate, and thus could get in the way of their handsome alimony checks. So they try to kill her.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Lara has known her father is a horrible monster. Years of rape and domination at his awesome power made her fearful to try anything against him. However, upon learning that even she, his most loyal of his daughters, is considered disposable to him and he no longer has the power to feed and is now has used up his reserves, leaving him just over empty, she finds it much easier to break from his control and become the dominating person in the family.
  • Mood Whiplash: The nauseating description of the entropy curse coupled with some of the members of Mavra's scourge attacking Harry, Thomas, Lara, and Inari in the parking lot is sandwiched in-between the hilarious randomness of Harry channeling the entropy curse to drop a frozen turkey from a passing airplane on one of the Black Court vampires.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse:
    • The MO of Arturo's ex-wives is to kill any woman near him before he can marry one of them, as a new Mrs. Genosa would deny them alimony and would control his property in the event of his death.
    • Madge also murders Arturo's other two ex-wives, Lucille by ritual sacrifice and Trixie by casting a spell that suffocates her slowly until she's unceremoniously dumped into the Deeps pit. Far too late to preserve her marriage to Arturo, but still a belated example.
  • Murphy's Bullet: A gun goes off in a struggle between Harry and a crazy porn star, hitting a random bystander in the hallway. Of course, this was the result of a very powerful and targeted bad luck curse as well.
  • The Needs of the Many: The White Council lives by the Seven Laws of Magic that help govern and control the wizards from doing black magic. But there are times when an enemy will use the rules against them so at times like this, when following the law is the worst option, the Council calls on the Blackstaff (the current one being Ebenezer McCoy), the assassin of the Council, who has the full authority to break the sacred laws.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Jake. He tells Harry that after working in the porn business for so long, it's not as much of a dream job as Harry would think.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Harry comes to the conclusion his mentor Ebenezer is not that different from monsters like Kincaid or Ortega as he is the hitman of the Council with full jurisdiction to violate the Seven Laws of Magic if adhering to them would not be for the common good.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Harry. Harry. Oh, and Harry. He is much smarter than he lets on. Referenced by Lara Raith when she realizes she was being played by Harry to perform a coup d'etat on her father and got her father to reveal all of his weaknesses in an Engineered Public Confession. She is most impressed by this action.
    • This is how Thomas has survived so long in the House Raith. He played the fool to not arouse suspicion. Lara figured it out, and now he has to employ the opposite (Obfuscating Cunning?) with her, making vague comments that makes it sound like he knows more than he does.
  • Oh, Crap!: Harry has a moment like this when he realizes that the entity behind the entropy curse is He Who Walks Behind.
  • Old Master: Ebenezer McCoy, Harry's second mentor, easily over 200 years old, is a powerful combat mage when the need arises. He is also the White Council's personal hitman with full discretion to break the laws and someone Kincaid actually fears. Had he known Dresden called the old man to the job, Kincaid wouldn’t have agreed to it.
  • Orifice Invasion: How the unbound, gaseous He Who Walks Behind kills Madge. Horribly.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Harry realizes that Murphy is pretending to be enslaved to Lord Raith's will when she calls him "Mr. Dresden." She usually calls him "Harry," or "Dresden" if she's annoyed with him, but almost never "Mr. Dresden."
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Murphy realizes that Ebenezar is not someone to be messed with and is not just some harmless old man when Harry, of all people, who has absolutely no respect for anyone in authority, calls him "sir".
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Harry has spent the whole series up to this point trying to prevent his allies from helping him with his dangerous work out of concern that they will get hurt in the process. In this book, he deliberately hires the services of a man for what is going to be very dangerous work knowing that he almost certainly will not be able to actually pay the man, yet lies about his ability to do so anyway.
  • Parental Incest: Lord Raith not only rapes his daughters, he feeds on them, to break them even more.
  • The Power of Love: It is one of the strongest forces in the world. It is so strong the White Court vampires cannot eat or even touch a person who is in love and is loved in return. Thus forever protecting Justine as Thomas loved her enough to risk his own life and stop feeding off of her when he needed it the most. Sadly, this means he also can't touch her from now on without getting horribly burned.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Harry becomes furious at his former mentor when McCoy reveals that he is the Blackstaff, the Council's hitman who can violate all the Laws.
  • Rape and Revenge: Type I: Lord Raith was known for "conditioning" his daughters into his loyal servants, who would do any task he set forth. When Lara learns her father can not longer feed and is severely weakened, she responds by first sending an intense level of lust and seduction at the old man. What happens later, well it isn't described. All that we know is that the White King became a puppet with Lara pulling the strings.
  • Reality Warper: Of a very limited version. When someone invokes the entropy curse, they shift the laws of probability toward a person's death. However, while they have no control over the particulars of the death, the caster's mindset will change how the death comes about, from a car striking a woman while she's water skiing under an overpass when the caster is a scatter-brain to stray bullets striking the victim perfectly in the heart and forehead when the caster has a serious, focused mind. As a result, some of the effects displayed were quite... unique. And of course when Harry momentarily channels the curse to save a victim it plays out like a Looney Tunes gag.
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl: During the fight with the black court vampires Dresden, Kincaid, and Murphy find hostages, unfortunately there's a trip mine with a laser tripwire, and Kincaid and Dresden are too big to fit under and disable it. Kincaid even tells her to unclench her butt to get underneath, and Murphy says she has, prompting Kincaid to remark, "Great ass, then." Murphy ends up having to ditch her pants to fit under, she is not amused. Even better, since she's already under the lasers and can't move around much Kincaid has to take them off for her. And she has to stay like that the rest of the fight because her pants get destroyed.
    Dresden: Pink panties. With little white bows. I wouldn't have guessed that. They really go with Kevlar and the gun belt, Murph. Shows you're a woman with her priorities straight.
  • The Reveal:
    • Harry's mentor McCoy is the White Council's hitman with all rights to break any of the seven laws to take down people as needed.
    • Mother Murphy explains to Harry that her husband used to run the equivalent to the SI department back in the day. However, Karrin is not aware of any of this.
    • Thomas is Harry's half-brother by Maggie Dresden.
    • Karrin is quite shocked, and angered, to learn her baby sister's new beau is her ex-husband.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: The entropy curse's first victim, Arturo's driver, was killed by a swarm of bees which inexplicably turned up in the trunk of a car.
  • Secret Test of Character: When Harry introduces Murphy to Kincaid, Kincaid first dismisses her and tells her to leave the talk to the grown-ups, getting more and more insulting the longer she stays in place. Finally, she slams him down on a table and threatens to break his arm. Kincaid is highly impressed and explains he insulted her to see if she lived up to her reputation.
  • Sexually Transmitted Superpowers: Inverted, in theory. The youngest Raith sibling, Inari, has yet to feed on a human to unlock her full power as an Emotion Eater White Court vampire. She also has a human boyfriend, Bobby, whom she leaves Chicago with at the end of the book. Harry theorizes at the end of the novel that, since White Court vampires are harmed by attempting to feed on someone who is in love, Inari might be able to become fully human if she has her first time within a loving relationship.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend:
    • Harry continuously asserts that the pup that wandered off from his littermates is not his dog. No one really buys it.
    • A straighter example, this book marks the beginning of Harry and Murphy insisting that they are not in a relationship.
  • Stealth Insult: After being convinced that Kincaid isn't human, Harry had asked Kincaid several times what he was exactly. Just before leaving, Kincaid mentions that he's just as human as Harry is. Not long after, Ebenezar tells Harry Kincaid is a Scion, half-human, and the other half is presumably demonic. Knowing Kincaid, though, his statement might have actually been a stealth compliment.
  • Supreme Chef: Mother Murphy, Karrin's mother and matriarch of the family. When Harry bites just a simple burger she cooked, he nearly melts and considers marrying Murphy just to eat this level of cooking on Thanksgiving.
  • Threat Backfire: The Death Curse Harry could lay out if he was killed is something most in the supernatural community take seriously. Kincaid, who tells Harry if he fails to pay for the job he will be killed, is unimpressed and tells Harry that he would snipe him with a supersonic bullet from over 1000 yards away. Too fast and too quick for Harry to conjure the curse. Harry realizes this could work.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Murphy to Harry, "Get on the bike, bitch."
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Murphy pretty much has to be a tomboy to survive in the Chicago PD, even cutting her hair shorter than she'd like. However, it turns out under it all, she's wearing pink panties with little white bows.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Played with. When discussing the mechanics of ritual magic, Harry explains that the White Council had, at times, pushed to have dark ritual books published and distributed to as many people as possible. When Murphy (understandably) asks why the good guys would want to do that, he tells her that summoning dark powers through rituals is like water coming out of a pipe. If you have thousands drawing from the same line, it loses all effectiveness because there is not enough power to go around. Hence, the only rituals in the Dresdenverse with overwhelming power are the ones that are kept secret.
    • Bram Stoker's Dracula is also like this to the Black Court, considering it contains everything that someone needs to kill a Black Court vampire and is a major reason why they're the smallest of the three vampire courts.
  • The Unseen: Harry never does meet Arturo's second ex-wife Lucille alive, although he comes very close when she tries to murder him with a blowgun.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Inari is both a straight and literal example, as she hasn't yet fed on anyone (thus not having turned from human to succubus) and eats no meat.
  • Water Guns and Balloons: Harry carries a pack of filled water balloons in the Blue Beetle. They are filled with holy water. It's a nice surprise for several supernatural nasties.
  • We Have Reserves: Lord Raith's general view about his children, even Lara. He can always make more if need be. Lara does not take the reveal well and responds accordingly when Harry gets him to reveal he isn't as strong as he once was and can no longer feed to recover his strength.
  • The Weird Sisters: The villain for Arturo's case is actually a trio, all three of his ex-wives attempting to use a ritual curse to murder their ex-husband's possible suitors to protect their alimonies. A magical ritual traditionally requires at least three participants to work properly, and Dresden notes that this is where the Weird Sisters "three witches cackling around a cauldron" stereotype comes from.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The White Court does these as a standard operating procedure. Naturally, several of them drive the plot. Thomas brings in Harry to protect Arturo and his business, and to throw a monkey wrench into his father's plans. Lara thinks Thomas is being more clever, possibly even planning to stage a coup, though she's loyal to her father out of self-interest. Arturo's ex wives are using magic to keep him from getting married, which could deny them alimony. And their motivation was manipulated, and are being sponsored by Lord Raith, who is trying to keep Arturo under his thumb, and quickly adapts his plans to kill Harry to keep him from interfering, and later Thomas when he learns they're siblings, which would free him from their mother's curse.
    • Good thing for Harry that he's really good at being the monkey wrench in people's plans, and that he pretty good at Xanatos Speed Chess when the situation calls for it. He upsets Raith's plans, saves Arturo's new wife (if not his business), and succeeds in a Batman Gambit by manipulating Raith into confessing that he's been weakened and that he sees even Lara as disposable. Too bad for him Lara was there to hear all of it.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Murphy tells Dresden's mentor, Ebenezar, to get out of the driver's seat so she can take the wheel and get them to their destination before people die. She is not polite as she says this. Harry sighs, and asks Ebenezar to take her lead, slipping in the word "sir." Murphy drops her jaw, and everything she is holding at the time, and calls Harry out on this. After a second, Murphy asks Ebenezar again. This time, she is very polite when asking.
    • When she's under Lord Raith's control, Harry realizes that she's faking it when she calls him "Mister Dresden".
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: As soon as Trixie isn't needed anymore, Lord Raith throws her into an abyss in the Deeps. Particularly because she wasn't terribly useful to start with.
  • You Put the "X" in "XY":
    Harry: I put the 'ick' in 'magic'.