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Literature / Cold Days

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The One with... all the Fae and Outsiders.

"Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness, has unique ideas on physical therapy."

Cold Days is book #14 in The Dresden Files.

After the events of Changes and Ghost Story, Harry Dresden is now the Winter Knight, assassin and thug of the Winter Court, specifically Mab. But due to his attempts to dodge his responsibilities, he was only a heartbeat away from death for a few months, so he is feeble and confined to bed. Once he is lucid enough to remember his own name, Mab starts his physical therapy.

The Winter Court is very big on the idea of pain as a motivator.

After months of surviving daily and increasingly bizarre assassination attempts by Mab as part of his therapy, the Queen of Air and Darkness declares her new Knight ready for his first assignment. However, in the process of carrying it out, Harry quickly realizes that his life is even more complicated than he initially thought.


So, he must endure anger and suspicions of former allies and darker side of Winter Knight's power which urges him to kill and rape those around him, weaving between politics of the Winter and Summer Courts, all while learning Truths of the world which may never allow him to know a restful sleep again.

Cold Days provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: The Redcap is Ace the changeling's father. The parent regularly ignored the kid growing up and when Thomas holds the kid hostage, the parent doesn't care what happens to him.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Titania, who utterly despises Harry for killing her daughter about ten books ago, almost smiles a couple of times at two of Harry's snarky comments about Mab.
    Titania: In many ways, she and I are alike. In many more ways, we are entirely different. Do you know what my sister believes in?
    Harry: Flashy entrances.
    Titania: [lips twitch]
  • Advantage Ball:
    • Fighting Harry on the grounds of Demonreach is not a smart choice. Though given what it contains, it is their only choice.
    • In the climax, despite having exhausted, defeated and captured the heroes, as soon as Mab arrives on Demonreach, it's over. Everyone except Maeve stands down immediately.
  • After-Action Healing Drama: After the ambush in the Botanical Gardens.
  • All Myths Are True: There really is a Santa Claus. Harry is dumbstruck when he meets him. And he's Odin.
  • Always Chaotic Evil:
    • Outsiders. What with the their desire to end all reality. And the fact that they kinda do that just by being here.
    • Fix sees Mab and Winter Knight Harry as this because Maeve has lied about Mab's condition, and Fix knew the last Winter Knight to be a truly evil man. Fix sees Harry's job as Mab's hitman to be intrinsically wrong. Regardless of the target, he doesn't believe Mab has the right to end someone's life.
  • Amazon Chaser: Toot-Toot is head over heels for Lacuna.
  • Angrish: Harry has a quite justifiable bout of angrish after learning in Cold Days that, on top of everything else he has to deal with already, the island Demonreach is getting ready to explode and take out a fair chunk of the Midwest.
    Harry: Of course it is. I swear, this stupid town. Why does every hideous supernatural thing that happens happen here? I'm gone for a few months and augh. Be right back. Grrssll frrrsl rassle mrrrfl.
  • Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: Thomas reveals the White Court has emergency fund debit cards. Once activated, they are good for 24 hours. When asked what the limit of the card was, he repeated 24 hours.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Maeve coldly asks Sarissa "Does she [Mab] talk about me?" when her sister is trying to encourage her into a Heel–Face Turn and fight against Nemesis' influence. Sarissa's brief hesitation only further confirms to Maeve that she is The Unfavorite and she shouldn't fight Nemesis as it's giving her the chance to get revenge on their mother.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Andi points a loaded gun at Harry, puts her finger on the trigger and keeps it on, while she ponders what to do with him. After some talk, she finally removes her finger to the trigger guard, but won't stop pointing the gun at Harry, even when he asks her to.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Molly cleans Harry's wounds by splashing peroxide on them, Harry mentions that it burns and then fizzes. It's a traditional way of cleaning wounds but nowadays is not recommended, as it can even cause tissue necrosis — atomic oxygen, not bound into molecules, is highly corrosive. There are safer alternatives on the market and peroxide should only be used to remove blood stains.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority:
    • In the Winter Court this is how things roll. So beware Santa Claus, who only bows his head to Mab (and only out of respect); Cat Sith, leader of the Malks; and the Redcap, king of his kind.
    • This is how Harry takes over command of The Wild Hunt, by defeating the Erlking and Kringle (although he later figures out they threw the fight).
  • Awful Truth: Mother Summer and Mother Winter debate revealing such a thing to Harry and warn him that knowing this could make him never sleep peacefully ever again. He chooses to learn it and learns that all of reality is constantly under siege by Outsiders. It is only by the efforts of Winter that they are kept at bay.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Rashid reveals this is another of his skills because he offers to help Harry, assuming both survive the coming hours, navigate the forms and procedures to get him reinstated to the White Council and his back pay as a Warden, as well as legally alive in the mundane world.
  • Badass in Distress: In the climax, Harry, Karrin, Thomas, Fix, and Mouse are all bound and held captive by Maeve and her cohorts.
  • Badass Santa: He rides with The Wild Hunt. And he's actually Odin.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: Invoked. The job of the Summer Knight is to protect the Winter Knight's target. And Titania's job is to protect the world from Mab. Harry had assumed that the Summer Knight was just Summer's hitman, like the Winter Knight, but given the actual setup, it explains why most Knights meet their ends at the hands of their counterpart.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Pulled by Winter Lady Maeve of all people. She successfully exploits Harry's distrust of Mab, the fact that Sidhe in all known circumstances Cannot Tell a Lie, and Lily's good reputation, into redirecting Harry's attention from her to her mother. It would have worked, too, if not for Harry figuring out that something in the story didn't add up.
    • Mab pulls her own. First, she trains Harry and Sarissa to survive various life threatening situations. Then she sets up Thomas by pretending to be Molly, so Harry would have a ride to the island, and reconnect with his brother to be of use later. While this happened, she guessed Harry would go retrieve the one being who could know how to kill an immortal. She even correctly gives Harry just enough information to work things out on his own knowing if she just told him the whys and reasons Harry would doubt it and not fully accept it. She even realizes the deepness of loving relationships and knew Murphy would kill Maeve if Maeve tried to kill Harry in front of her. This crucial fact is what led to Maeve's death. And with that Molly becomes the new Winter Lady, a second choice but needed as Sarissa had been removed from play.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind:
    • Harry faces against Mother Winter in one to not end up being cooked. He fought her will and was able to get free. She was impressed.
    • Harry and the Outsider "Sharkface" have one of these. Harry wins.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Nemesis allowing Fae to lie means that they are able to lie to themselves, which is what happens with Maeve telling herself that Mab does not love her.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • Serial killers Gilles de Rais (the toned-down inspiration behind Bluebeard), Fritz Haarmann (a.k.a. Butcher of Hanover), John Haigh (a.k.a. Acid Bath Murderer), and Andrei Chikatilo (a.k.a. The Rostov Ripper) were all Winter Knights. With this kind of predecessors, it's no wonder why Harry fears the effects the Winter Mantle will have on his mind.
    • The fictional hero from the Scottish ballad Tam Lin was also a Winter Knight. Mab comments that the way how Harry stood up to the Court's nobility during his birthday party reminded her of him. This is not the only time that Tam Lin is referenced, either, with it being implied that he managed to divest himself of the mantle without dyingnote .
  • Berserk Button:
    • Mab does not like her subordinates giving her commands. For daring to imply she should have consulted Harry about her plans for Molly, she was ready to fire a bullet between his eyes. She also doesn't like her rules being broken. So remember, at formal parties, first do not speak to her unless she gives you permission, and second, do not shed blood at the party. Those who do will likely be dead very quickly.
    • The Redcap really likes his hats. Don't steal one from his head.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Titania, the Summer Queen. She is the warmth of Summer in only the best sense of the phrase and her sole job description is to keep mortals safe from Mab, but she enjoys manifesting as a tornado, and she comes within a hair's-breadth of killing Harry over the death of her daughter Aurora.
    • Lily, compared to Maeve, is a paragon of niceness and warmth. When she gets pissed, however, she can throw flames out that would melt steel, and one of her attacks is described as being a miniature sun.
  • Beyond the Impossible: This is Harry and Bob's opinion when they examine the broken stones in Demonreach's cottage. Bob sensed hundreds of magical spells so tightly compacted into this single physical entity, Harry declares it shouldn't be possible. Bob agrees, but it's happening and he doesn't know anything about it. The character whose explicit role in the book is to know everything about magic. Bob doesn't know anything about it.
  • Big Bad: Winter Lady Maeve.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Karrin, Thomas, Molly, and Mouse, serve as this when Harry's been pinned down by Maeve and Lily.
    • Molly and Murphy each show up out of the blue to rescue Harry from an angry changeling and a swarm of hostile Little Folk on separate occasions. Molly manages to scare them off of Harry the first time by creating an illusion of a half dozen cats, of which the Little Folk are innately afraid of. Murphy saves Harry the second time by taking out a collapsible baton and swatting them all out of the sky.
    • The Water Beetle, with Molly, Mac, Mouse and Thomas on board, ramming Sharkface's barge before it can reach Demonreach's coast. To Queen's "We Will Rock You".
    • Fix plays this shortly before Karrin and crew by deflecting one of Lily's attacks aimed at Harry.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Harry and Karrin finally kiss while riding into battle with The Wild Hunt, and then later have a proper Big Damn Kiss while on Demonreach itself, right before Harry runs off to stop Sharkface. However, subverted in that they still aren't together at the end of the book, as Karrin feels that Harry has changed too much and that they both need time to think before diving into a relationship, to which Harry reluctantly agrees.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The six Sidhe Queens have this type of dynamic, whether truly related by blood or not.
    • Mother Winter and Mother Summer live together and get into many battles over the former's pessimism and the latter's optimism.
    • Mother Winter considers Mab to be a weak romantic for not killing Maeve when it is obvious what has become of her and won't seek redemption.
    • Mab and Titania refer to the other as sister. They are enemies engaged in an eternal struggle so when one tries to obtain something and the other aims to stop her sister. Titania notes she and Mab hadn't exchanged words in person since "Hastings" (presumably the Battle of Hastings, which occurred roughly 1000 years ago).
    • Maeve hates her twin sister Sarissa for apparently being mother's favorite.
    • Though not blood, Maeve refers to Lily as her cousin and has been stringing her along with lies about who was really corrupted by Nemesis to get her to destroy Demonreach, and when that fails kills her.
  • Bigger Bad:
    • Nemesis: an infectious and sentient form of madness, that can affect anyone — even the Faerie Queens — and turn them to the side of the Outsiders.
    • Also, The Outsiders in general. Strongly implied to be the Big Bad of the entire series.
    • Possibly the Black Council as well. What role the Black Council plays in all of this is still unclear. They were the ones that spread Nemesis to Victor Sells, Leonid Kravos, the FBI agents, the Red Court, Lea (and, through Lea, Maeve), and the White Court. It is unclear whether the Black Council is using Nemesis for its own ends, whether it is working with Nemesis in a partnership, or whether it is serving Nemesis. What is certain is this: According to Word of God, Justin DuMorne was collecting the Starborn to raise them into a weapon to destroy outsiders. Why? No idea.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Outsiders have been repelled and Demonreach saved, but Molly is now trapped as the Winter Lady. Lily is dead (something for which Thomas suggests Fix will hold Harry responsible) and the next Summer Lady is Mab's second daughter Sarissa, forever putting her mother and her on opposite sides of a cosmic battle. Harry is still the Winter Knight and subject to all of the urges and changes the Mantle brings, and there is a parasite in his brain that is preparing to explode out of his head and kill him in a very short time if he steps off Demonreach.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • The Winter Knight's mantle gives its bearer increased strength, a decent Healing Factor, and extra magical juice…but at the price of mind-warping, sadistic impulses, no sense of pain or injury (so the Knight doesn't know just how badly hurt he is), and a vulnerability to iron (or at least the loss of the mantle's benefits when pierced by iron). Worse, if the mantle is stripped from you (for instance, if you break your faction's laws), any of the cripplingly-painful injuries that the mantle was covering up are suddenly laid bare.
    • Mab notes Molly suffers from this as well. She is such a powerful neuromancer, she cannot stand to be in a crowded room as she will feel everyone's emotions and thoughts, even if she tries to stop it. Mab considers her becoming the Winter Lady to be a good thing as she won't have this problem. See below for why this should be taken with a dose of salt.
    • The Mantles of the Summer Lady and Winter Lady for their recipients. Yes, Lily, Sarissa, and Molly have become physical goddesses but they are bound to roles not of their choosing. Lily never wanted to it, wishing to have a normal life with a husband and children. Sarissa, who is actually Mab's daughter and Maeve's twin, becomes the Summer Lady, forever separating her from her mother and unable to just hang out like they did before. And Molly, who was finally getting her life back on track must now deal with a Mantle that encourages destruction and cold rationality. Only time will tell if Molly and Sarissa will give into their Mantles.
  • Blood Knight:
    • The entire Hunt qualifies, who greet news they will be hunting eldritch abomination Outsiders with cheers.
    • The Erlking qualifies too, acknowledging that he loves doing battle on Halloween, the one night he can be killed.
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: Harry knows Lara has placed bugs in Thomas' apartment. So when he calls up a contact, he speaks with a representative of the contact, warns them the line is bugged, and uses big words like "operative." Harry knows this will get her attention and send her to keep track of whomever Harry has contacted. The bluff comes when Harry reveals he wants Lara to try and track Odin as he will spot them and this will tell him how the White Court does its surveillance now. This information is payment to him for agreeing to meet Harry at all. Harry then blows out every electronic device in Thomas' apartment, which really should have been a tip-off, but was awesome nonetheless.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: When Harry discusses the contagion with Lily he comes to the realization the contagion had brainwashed Victor Sells into a domestic abusing, drug dealing warlock, FBI Agent Denton and company into Dirty Cops, gave Leonid Kravos the suicidal overconfidence to try and summon demons to take over Chicago, turned Summer Lady Aurora into an insane woman bent on ending the constant war between Summer and Winter no matter the cost.
  • Breaking the Bonds: When Maeve is about to kill Harry Karrin does this to the ice binding her hands and shoots Maeve in the head. She would not be able to do it without Mab's help, though.
  • Breaking Speech: Delivered by Mab to Harry, comparing him to Justin DuMorne of all people. She makes him out to be manipulating Molly since she was a kid and later during her apprenticeship into being an infatuated loyal slave of his, rather than what the books make obvious (teaching her to control her power and impulses). Worse, she also meant it as a compliment. Harry, being Harry, feels guilty enough not to deny it, even though it's clearly a load of crap.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • Harry tricks Lara Raith into following Odin/Donar Vadderung as described in Bluff the Eavesdropper. The eavesdropper knows who Harry called, and exactly what that person is capable of. She sends a team to track him anyway.
    • Kringle warns Harry that Mab is such a dragon. Injure her pride and he's a dead man, no matter how good a job Harry is doing. Had Harry challenged her as he did at the end with witnesses present, he wouldn't have lived to see morning.
    • Mr. Etri of the Svartalf and the Svartalf nation in general are not to be trifled with. They are well known for remaining neutral in other nations' fights. The reason they can remain neutral is because they are a terrifyingly dangerous and powerful nation. So someone trying to harm Mr. Etri with a bomb angered a very dangerous force.
    • Later Harry averts possibly angering Mr. Etri by not making any sarcastic remarks about anything Svartalf related while on their land.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Eldest Gruff, the Erlking, and Kringle are very affable people and quite powerful as well, but when Sarissa was snatched away from Harry without him noticing, none of them tried to stop it. When Harry realizes this and call them out on it, Kringle and Erlking just silently stare at him with neutral looks. It was only because Elder Gruff flicked an ear in one direction that Harry spotted Sarissa and her abductor.
  • Cain and Abel: Maeve and Sarissa respectively. Mab loves both deeply, but Maeve feels she is The Unfavorite even though she chose to be a Sidhe like her mother and Sarissa stayed in between.
  • Call-Back:
    • While discussing how impossibly constructed Demonreach is from a magical standpoint, even by Bob's standards, Harry's narration compares the Art with Mathematics; where no matter how much you may try to obfuscate the result, they are selfconsistent and "two plus two doesn't equal five. (Except maybe very, very rarely, sometimes, in extremely specific and highly unlikely circumstances.)" Thirty-seven chapters later:
      Maeve: Two plus two equals five.
    • Harry realizes as he stands naked with no weapons and pushed to his limit it isn't that different from Mab's training situations.
    • A subtle one: Back in Changes, Ebeneezer McCoy explained that Arianna Ortega realized that Margaret la Fey was his daughter because they "fought like family." Two books later, Harry and Murphy realize Maeve and Sarissa are sisters when they start bickering like siblings.
  • Call on Me: When all hope seemed lost, with the bad guy about to win, Harry recognizes he was inside a giant circle and uses it to summon Mab. From her words to Harry, it seems this was always part of her unspoken plan, but he didn't figure it out until the very last moment. See Summon Bigger Fish.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: The Sidhe, as usual. Subverted in that Maeve's corruption allows her to lie anyway. Double subverted when it turns out that she's not that great at lying well.
  • The Cavalry: According to Rashid, the Gatekeeper, when Harry asks him for help on the whole situation Rashid tells Harry he is the cavalry to the universe.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Butcher fires several guns he's loaded in previous books,
    • Such as the significance of Halloween in the Dresdenverse, the fact that a Sidhe Queen's mantle passes into the closest possible vessel, and Mab's rage that was so intense that she needed an interpreter to 'speak' without putting listeners in severe agony. Molly's training under the Leanansidhe probably also qualifies.
      • Molly also called her "Aunty Lea" at least once, so her grooming for being put into the courts had a little more foreshadowing to.
    • Previous information about the Wild Hunt also fires, when Harry uses the circumstances and his knowledge of the rules to hijack control from the Erlking.
    • Harry considers firing one loaded in Turn Coat, the massive reserve of dark energy underneath the existing ley line on Demonreach, but decides he can win without it anyway.
    • The gun that was the athame given to Lea all the way back in Grave Peril finally fires as well: it was used to infect Lea with Nemesis, and through Lea, Maeve was infected.
    • When Harry and Sarissa are doing a question for a question, Sarissa notes she has a sister and both suffer from a "genetic dementia." A unique way to describe the mindset of a Fae who are called insane by some people.
    • Back in Summer Knight the Mothers state the Queens cannot directly get in the way of each others plots. Hence Mab not being able to directly stop Maeve from killing Lily and later trying to kill Harry.
    • Maeve's first gambit seen distract with an obvious tactic and get Harry with a sucker punch. The premise was repeated several times in the book by Maeve and her minions. Harry finally realized this and saw through the ploy by the end of the book.
    • The idea ancient forces of power, like Mother Winter, having aliases.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Mab. She didn't just strengthen Harry during his rehab but Sarissa as well to ready her to take Maeve's place as Winter Lady should she refuse to be deprogrammed. At the same time, she has had Lea strengthen Molly as a back-up plot and possible replacement to Lily if she ended up dead in the game against Nemesis.
    • Unfortunately Nemesis is one as well. Mab notes at the end, using Maeve to kill not just Lily but take Sarissa from Mab and then not chance killing Maeve for fear of who would become the new Winter Lady did have Mab in a bind, until Molly was on the island as well. Mab considers this gambit a very clever one.
    • Maeve is her own version, despite acting like a homicidal bitch, as she put Harry off his game with her first move to allow Redcap to sneak in with ease and take Sarissa. Harry only realized too late he was played. Mab considers this well done on Maeve's part.
  • Chess Motifs: Harry invokes this after defeating Summer Knight Fix and declares, "Knight takes Knight. Check."
  • The Chooser of The One: Karrin still bears the Swords and is searching for their proper bearers. When Harry asks to take this position back, Karrin refuses because he is the Winter Knight and she cannot trust him with them.
  • The Chosen One: Harry realizes that Mab, who believes in keeping things in balance, has waited and chosen him to slay Maeve because ten years ago he killed the previous Fae Queen who had fallen to Nemesis' machinations. What better symmetry than ensuring Harry acts as the instigator of both deaths?
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Harry has a bad case. He's already got a lot on his plate — a Faerie Queen to kill, assassinations to survive, an exploding island, etc. — but upon discovering that all of Reality is under siege, his first response is, "What can I do to help?"
  • Clarke's Third Law: Invoked, by Bob, in reference to the magic layered over Demonreach. When magic is sufficiently advanced to seem like magic to a freaking wizard, you know it's hardcore.
  • Cold Iron:
    • It is revealed in this book, to slay a fae with iron is a horrendous act called "the iron death."
    • The Knights of Summer and Winter are revealed to have issues with iron because their power comes from the Fae.
    • Subverted with Mother Winter, who is revealed to be immune to iron as she uses a real iron cleaver, to say nothing of her iron dentures. As Mother Summer is her equal but opposite, it is likely she can use it as well.
    • Subverted in Sharkface's illusion where Mab can touch iron, which is what clues Harry into it being an illusion.
    • Subverted when Harry uses a trick of coating his fingertips with a layer of ice, allowing him to handle a Cold Iron nail.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Cat Sith admits his favored method of fighting is ambushing an unaware enemy. It's Harry's big tipoff that Cat Sith had been claimed by Nemesis, because he knew damn well by that point that if the real Cat Sith wanted him dead his first warning would be a malk ripping out his spine.
    • Harry and Molly too. When he tells Molly that her plan to ambush Fix from behind a veil if he made a move against Harry was unfair, she reminds him:
      Molly: I had this teacher who kept telling me that if I was ever in a fair fight, someone had made a mistake.
    • Redcap learns to be one against Harry when his more direct assault that got him in an arms length of Harry nearly got him killed. After that, he stuck to attacks with guns from a distance, attacking in large groups, setting a bomb underneath him, or poisoning Harry with a dart so the Wild Hunt could hunt him down.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Maeve tries to get to Sarissa by mocking how skimpy the dress she wore to Harry's party (supposedly) was. Sarissa points out that Maeve really has no room to talk given that her outfit consisted of rhinestones and nothing else. Maeve is incensed - they weren't rhinestones, they were diamonds!
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Harry's narration refers to Proven Guilty's excursion to Arctis Tor twice — once when he recalls fighting the giant scarecrow phobophage, and again when he mentions that the last time he was in Arctis Tor, he "pissed off the faeries. Like, All of Them."
    • Dresden gives Maeve a really good "The Reason You Suck" Speech, which is lightly peppered with Continuity Nods, such as the fact that because of her, Billy and Georgia were nearly killed at their wedding, and Lloyd Slate's treatment at the hands of the Winter Queens.
    • There's also a nod to Backup, in which Harry previously had a run-in with trouble at one of this book's locations.
      • Also an oblique reference to both Fool Moon and Proven Guilty, as he recalls it's not the first time he's re-visited the same site during two otherwise-unrelated debacles.
    • Another nod to Backup: When Harry enters the waiting room before the party, he finds a book "Mab put a lot of work getting produced".
    • Turn Coat also gets a nod, when Harry repeatedly has mental hiccups due to trying not to think about the Naagloshii.
    • Summer Knight gets one as well. When Harry asked Bob what would happen if Summer won, there would be a boom of growth, including viruses and what does Mother Summer have in her side of the cabin, and handled with loving care? Several of the plagues which had devastated humanity in the past, like the Black Death and Cholera.
    • Storm Front gets a mention when Butters asks what the bad guys could do with a bit of Harry. Harry mentions they could make his heart stop or explode. Butters flashes back to that book's gruesome murders, now finally knowing what caused them.
    • The short story Love Hurts is touched in reference to an injury to the bartender Mac. Butcher seems more comfortable referencing short stories since the publication of Side Jobs
    • Many passing references to Ghost Story, some obvious and others coy (e.g. Harry calls Thomas a "dandysprat", an archaic term he picked up from Sir Stuart).
    • When Harry contacts the Norse god Odin for a meeting from Thomas' home, he calls himself "Doughnut Boy" a reference to when Harry faced the Eldest Gruff and what the contact served Harry at their last meeting. A doughnut is also what Harry was served when he first visited Monoc security headquarters in Changes.
    • A nearly blink and you'll miss it nod to a conversation with MacFinn in Fool Moon when Thomas explains the situation with the Redcap. Harry rather likes the term "Lickspittles".
    • Harry and Karrin do a little bit of catching up, and note that they've known each other for a long time, going all the way back to "the troll on the bridge", when Murphy was a patrolwoman.
    • Harry briefly muses that should he survive, he will need to get new ID cards for his new job as the Winter Knight, stylized in the same way his old ones were narrated as in Storm Front.
    • Harry muses back to when he and Thomas built Whatsup Dock because a nail fell onto the summit of Demonreach's hill.
    • Harry talks to Thomas about the attempted coup of the White Court back in White Night. Specifically, he mentions the psychic assault of the Outsider there, which was near identical to what Sharkface used on Harry, Thomas, and Mac.
    • Harry thinks back to the few times someone tried blowing up a car he was using or rammed him with some Car Fu. He realizes the attacks were likely Ace taking vengeance against him for "ruining" his life.
    • Turn Coat gets a mention when one of the baddies pulled the gum-in-the-key-slot trick on him.
    • Molly mentions she knew Harry was alive, and that she was asked by Lea to not say anything about it. This occurs at the conclusion of Bombshells.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Averted. The heat bloom off of fireballs is mentioned as being just as dangerous as the fire itself, and Harry is frequently forced to protect himself from radiant heat with Winter mist.
  • Corpse Land: When Harry travels to the Outer Gates in NeverNever, he finds himself on a hill overlooking a confrontation between old enemies. He wonders how long it has been going on and then realizes it isn't stone he's standing on, but bones so old and worn, they look like stones. They cover the entire field.
  • Crazy-Prepared/Properly Paranoid: Mr. Etri of the Svartalf. He owns the building Molly's apartment is in. Like many svartalves, he is not to be underestimated, nor does he take the security of his territory lightly. Any vehicle that enters his domain is searched for bugs, bombs, and other traps on both a physical and magical level. And then they are doused with water just to make sure. Any visitor must be escorted in by a resident of the apartment complex. After the Fomor betrayed him and tried something with a bomb (which Molly handled for Mr. Etri), can you blame him?
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • At the beginning of the story, Harry is completely outmatched by Redcap because of the restriction on his magic. When the duel is called off because the law needs to be laid down, Harry kills an ogre in two magical blasts. And then a Sidhe who dares to speak back to him. Taking away his advantages makes him have to work harder, but his advantages mean that no one in the Winter Court even thinks about challenging him to a fair fight. Which ultimately becomes a problem later.
    • Cat Sith against Redcap and his group. When Redcap was facing Harry, Karrin, and Thomas, he was more than confident he would live and they would die. After two fatal Stealth Hi Byes below, he and his people are terrified and know they cannot win against this predator.
    • The fight between Harry, the Winter Knight, and Fix, the Summer Knight. Harry is cold, tired, naked, exhausted after fighting an army, and unused to the Winter Mantle's power. Fix is fresh, armed and armored with magical equipment, and has ten years of experience not only with the Summer Mantle, but has been training to fight the Winter Knight, specifically, that entire time. But Harry has some advantages Fix doesn't expect. Not only is he strong enough to resist the impulses of his Mantle while using the abilities it grants him (thus making it a lot harder for Fix to predict his movements), but his recent run-ins with Iron have taught him just how devastating they can be for Knights, and his access to the power and intellectus of Demonreach tells him Fix's location, movements, status and the location of a nail on the ground. These three advantages make the fight no contest for Harry.
    • Soon after, Karrin, Thomas, Mouse, and Fix against Maeve and her cronies ends with Fix and the others captured and detained.
  • Cryptic Conversation: It's a book full of faeries. There's a ton of them. It later becomes a plot point, when Maeve's straightforwards explanation turns out to be a big old case of too good to be true.
  • Crystal Prison: The true purpose of Demonreach Island.
  • Dances and Balls: Once Harry passed his final test, Mab throws an extravagant ball in honor of Harry and it being his birthday. Mab and Harry even share a dance where they dance upon the frozen remains of the Fae Harry just killed. No one else joined them this time.
  • Decadent Court:
    • Early in the book, Harry's being brought to a big Winter Court party. Harry asks if there's anyone in particular he should keep an eye on, and his companion replies that he will have to keep an eye on everybody.
    • At the party, Harry tries to keep an eye on anyone suspicious. Then he realizes that is impossible, and resolves to keep an eye out for anyone charging at him with a knife and screaming.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: When Harry fights Fix, he hides in the fog with a veil, grabbed an iron nail, and pissed Fix off enough to make him attack, so Harry could stab him to disable his Mantle and finish him off.
  • Designated Victim: Andi the werewolf. Lampshaded for not being the first time.
  • Diamonds in the Buff: Maeve uses this trope in an attempt to seduce Harry, which he lampshades by giving her the nickname "Little Miss Spanglecrotch."
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?:
    • After years of doing this on purpose, Harry finally manages to do it by accident. When he summons Mother Winter, he forces her to come to the mortal world to collect him. According to Mother Summer, she recently lost her walking stick, so such a long journey was painful for her. Which is part of the reason she was so pissed.
    • It deserves special mention for just how many times Harry manages to NOT flip off Cthulhu, in the form of Mab, Titania, and Mother Summer in this book.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • The Redcap didn't see Winter Knight Harry being more than happy to throw fire at him.
    • The Redcap and Maeve didn't see Sarissa being smart enough, and crazy enough, to bring iron into a ball filled with Fae. She hid it in the chopsticks in her hair.
    • The Fae who gives Harry a "Who do you think you are?" speech didn't think Harry could be any threat to him. He doesn't live long enough to regret it. Hell, he doesn't live long enough to finish his speech.
    • Sharkface thought Harry to be a Squishy Wizard. This one got a fist to the face.
    • Harry states this trope when he sees Captain Hook is female.
    • Mother Summer expresses this when told Harry tried summoning Mother Winter, and in response, was brought to their cottage.
    • Harry states the trope again, this time to Sharkface, seconds before the veiled Water Beetle rams his barge before it reaches Demonreach's shores.
    • Harry and Molly are completely blind to the implications of Molly's training with the Leanansidhe until she gets hit with the Winter Lady's mantle.
    • Maeve was so focused on Sarissa being groomed as a Winter Lady that she didn't realize Mab had a second backup.
    • Fix didn't see Harry fighting the Winter Mantle's influence, or using taunts to throw Fix off-balance.
    • Mab herself admits that she didn't see Maeve murdering Lily to turn Sarissa into the Summer Lady coming. However, Mab, being The Chessmaster, was smart enough not to put all of her eggs in one basket and was able to quickly adjust her own plans accordingly.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: Because Molly has become the Winter Lady, she is under the direct protection of Queen Mab and the Unseelie Accords. This means the White Council can never try her for the crimes she committed as a mortal.
  • Distinction Without a Difference:
    • When speaking with Demonreach he tells Harry, he did not bully Queen Mab for help in Ghost Story. He bargained.
    • In showing his wisdom, Harry defuses an argument between Mother Winter and Mother Summer over the matter of his arrival. He denies Mother Summer's claim that he was rudely dragged to her home against his will, but rather a firm invitation. Mother Winter approves.
    • Molly refutes Harry's claim she borrowed money from the White Court's emergency funds. She just plainly states she stole it.
  • Doctor's Orders: Butters gives them to Harry, who takes them more seriously than he usually takes orders, but not seriously enough for Butters' taste.
  • Dominance Through Furniture: At Harry's birthday party in Arctis Tor, Maeve sits on a young man to watch Harry fight. The Winter Queen prefers the traditional ice throne, which also serves to highlight the differences between the two Queens of Winter.
  • Double Meaning: Harry has been a Warden of the White Council for a number of years, now. But he's only been THE capital-W Warden for a year or so. In all likelihood, the White Council army was named for Harry's position, as it was established by Merlin, the Merlin.
  • The Dragon: As Winter Knight, Harry is now Mab's Dragon.
  • The Dreaded: As the Winter Knight, Harry is this to Fix. Fix had previously said that most Summer Knights meet their ends at the hands of the Winter Knight, and the stakes of losing are unbelievably high. It doesn't help that Harry was a powerful wizard to begin with.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Toot-toot and the Za Lord's Guard do not make the best drivers.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side
    • The price of holding or accessing the Winter Knight's mantle is this: increasing instability, violence, and psychopathy.
    • Maeve's final monologue strongly implies she's suffering from this as well, under Outsider influence. Horrifyingly, one only need grant a Sidhe the ability to tell lies to make them Drunk on the Dark Side.
  • Due to the Dead: Mab asks Harry's permission to bury Maeve and Lily on Demonreach. Harry's fine with it, but suggests she check with Demonreach first.
  • Dying as Yourself: Maeve's death has shades of this, but it's subverted — she dies as Nemesis' pawn instead of Mab's.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Arctis Tor, Mab's home.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Outsiders, all of them, but especially the secret of Demonreach. It's a prison for countless abominations, so powerful and dangerous that a half-dozen Naagloshii are kept in minimum security. The original Merlin built it across more dimensions than most humans can comprehend, and Harry is now its Warden.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Molly Carpenter and Mr. Etri of the Svartalf have such a relationship against the Fomor.
      Molly: Etri might oppose you. He might break your bones. He might cut your throat in your sleep or make the ground swallow you up. But he will never, ever lie about his intentions. He's not my friend. But he is my ally. He's good at it.
    • The Chicago Alliance still falls under this. When Harry was injured neither Thomas nor Karrin want to take him to Marcone's or Lara's doctors for fear of what they could do with his blood. The only thing that brings them together is when the Fomor attack Mac's.
    • On the furthest reaches of Faerie, Outsiders continually assault the boundaries of the universe, seeking to break in. The only thing that stops them is the armies of Winter, along with the Gatekeeper. Those few who are just injured and not killed are healed by Summer fae working as medics. Mother Summer notes that they may be enemies, but they are both of the same universe. They will put aside differences to protect it.
    • Harry invokes this with Fix just by switching to "we".
  • Establishing Character Moment: A reestablishment after not appearing since Summer Knight; one of Mother Winter's first lines is to angrily describe Mab as "too much the romantic."
    Harry: And that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Mother Winter.
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • Harry loves his daughter and cannot bear to see her in pain and suffer. This fact makes him realize that Mab ordered Harry to kill Maeve because she loves Maeve so much that she cannot bring herself to harm Maeve even when it is for her own good. So she wants Harry to do it for her.
    • Harry, upon seeing Mab's resolution and hearing Karrin breathe sharply at Maeve turning her gun to Harry, realized Mab's final gambit to beat Maeve was preparing Molly to be a suitable vessel to be a Sidhe Queen and having her hide on the island, ready to take the mantle into her should the need arise.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Mab. You can trust her to keep her word. You can trust little else about her.
    • Mother Winter is a lady who enjoys death, tragedy, and pain. Show her the most bloody and desperate battles in human history, and she'd probably grab some popcorn. But tell her Nemesis is behind it and everything changes.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Mab's speech to Harry at the end, praising him for "manipulating" Molly into trusting him over the course of mentoring her, reeks of this; we the readers know that he's a good man who was honestly trying to protect her, but Mab, while not strictly evil, is too alien to humanity to be capable of understanding this. Worse, given Harry's guilt complex, he doesn't outright defy Mab's claims then and there.
  • Evil Gloating: Invoked. Harry buys time by prodding Maeve into gloating.
  • Evil Is Petty: Maeve reveals, after killing Lily, her primary goal was not to help Nemesis nor release the prisoners inside Demonreach. It was to get Sarissa close enough so when Maeve did kill Lily, Sarissa would become the Summer Lady, forever taking her from Mab's side.
  • Exact Words:
    • For some reason, Harry thought that there wasn't a literal set of gates holding the Outsiders back. Why else would the White Council have a Gatekeeper on it?
    • Also, who chose the name "Warden" for the armies of the White Council? Isn't a Warden the person in charge of a prison? After all, it's not like Merlin and The Archive were metaphorical, so there's no reason to assume any other positions are.
    • When Harry gave orders to Cat Sith to remove anyone who could follow him, but not to fatally injure the person, Harry notices his first victim was the doorman to Thomas' apartment. Harry is thankful the Fae didn't harm the paramedics treating the man or the police writing up the strange attack.
    • When Harry questions Lacuna, he quickly realizes that innuendo and implied questions do not work at all, and that he has to phrase his questions very specifically and directly.
    • Harry asked Mother Summer to take him back to the mortal world after seeing the Outer Gates. She smiled and helped him back to his grave, where Mother Winter took him from.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Aside from the prologue concerning the three months of physical therapy that starts the book, the entire novel takes place over one day. Halloween, to be specific, and Harry's birthday.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: Had Harry not moved when he pissed Fix off enough, his sword would have cleaved Harry in halves.
  • The Fair Folk: There's almost more fae characters in this book than humans.
  • Feel No Pain: Harry realizes one of the blessings of the Winter Knight's Mantle is this as he doesn't realize how badly he was injured. Butters later notes that this also means Harry is more likely to become seriously injured because he pushed himself too far. He added a caveat that perhaps Mab wants this just in case a Knight becomes too injured to be of use again, it would mean killing the Knight is all that easier.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Harry encourages Cat Sith to do this when he was possessed by Nemesis. Harry watched him briefly struggle to fight it but Nemesis just fully asserts itself and silences Cat Sith.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Whatever "parasite" is causing Harry's headaches, it's probably going to be really bad news, very soon.
    • Several powerful and knowledgeable entities refer to Harry as 'starborn' — the circumstances of his birth make him specifically destined to combat Outsiders, and he's only just getting started.
      • Those entities refer to Harry as a starborn — implying there might be more than one. Several hints from previous books point to Elaine as being one as well.
    • Molly's line about not getting between siblings in a fight. Not only does this allude to the Faerie Queens being a Big, Screwed-Up Family of literally epic proportions, but provides some nice Five-Second Foreshadowing for when Harry realizes that Maeve and Sarissa are sisters.
    • Empty Nightnote  is mentioned as what will result if the Outsiders are victorious.
    • Harry calls a meeting with Donar Vadderung, CEO of Monoc Securities. And Odin in disguise. He exchanges dialogue ranging from cryptic to casual, then has to leave in a hurry. One doesn't keep the Wild Hunt waiting. Especially not when you're also Santa Claus.
    • Also, the headaches themselves are revealed to be foreshadowing, from as early as Small Favor.
    • When Harry forces Lily and Maeve to give him straight answers, Lily looks physically pained, but Maeve doesn't mind. Because she's already been infected with Nemesis, and therefore can go against her usual nature.
    • Mab's calm response when Sarissa revealed she was packing cold iron to the ball hints there is something more to their relationship than Queen and Handmaiden.
    • Harry's conversation with Mother Summer, particularly what is mentioned in One Dialogue, Two Conversations. She's not just talking about Harry fighting against the Winter Knight's Mantle, but alluding to Molly Carpenter having to fight against the Winter Lady's Mantle in the future.
  • Freudian Excuse: According to Sarissa, Maeve has a form of congenital dementia, explaining why she's The Mentally Disturbed. Additionally, from Maeve's own perspective, she's The Unfavorite and so she's willing to work together with Nemesis to get back at her mother out of vengeance.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Harry spends most of the climactic battle naked after Demonreach's wards disintegrate his clothing.
  • Gambit Pileup: By the end of the book, Mab, Maeve, Harry, and the Outsiders all have a gambit in play, with Harry and Maeve's gambits being spawned off of that of Mab and the Outsiders respectively. In the end, nobody really gets what they wanted even if Mab and Harry's side "wins".
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: When Harry faces "Sharkface" during the assault on Demonreach, Sharkface puts a powerful Mind Rape on Harry, but missed one detail. Mab, for all her power, does not handle iron well. Harry has seen her jump away from a tiny nail rolling gently at her. Thus making her holding an iron knife that is rusting while torturing Harry is said glitch. This fact is used by Harry to break the illusion.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: When Harry first sees Maeve and Sarissa together on the way to his party, it is clear the Winter Lady has little love for Mab's pet mortal. Later, Harry and Murphy realize that they're sisters by the way they fight with each other.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: But which one?
    • Mab is said to have been infected by Nemesis, and if she is and Harry slays Maeve, then Mab will be able to choose (and infect) a new Lady, and Nemesis will have two of the three Queens of Winter in its thrall, making things dire for Mother Winter and all of Summer.
    • Maeve , if she became Queen, would for a few years revel in the power to maim and harm anyone who dare think about crossing her, and have access to an army that numbers in the hundreds of thousands.
  • Good All Along: Mab... sort of. It turns out that having Maeve killed is justified, and that her real purpose is defending our universe from the Outsiders. She's still a scary, scary, scary Sidhe Queen, though.
  • Good Counterpart: Harry always assumed the Summer Knight was Summer's hitman, just like the Winter Knight is Winter's. However, it turns out that the Summer Knight's job is actually just to stop the Winter Knight.
    Fix: No one should be able to decide who lives and who dies, Harry. Not even Mab.
  • Good Is Not Nice:
    • It's been known from her introduction that Mab isn't really evil, any more than a blizzard is evil. But you don't want to invite a blizzard into your house.
      Harry: I thought Mab's wrath was terrible. Then I learned what her affection was like.
    • Revelations made in this book show that every member of the Winter Court that isn't evil falls under this. Sure, a lot of them are petty, manipulative, and sadistic, but on the other hand, they're the ones defending reality from the Outsiders.
    • Maeve states that tricking Harry into combat with the Redcap, siccing a second band upon Harry later, and enjoying all of it is her being a good person. It's a ruse to trick Lily and Harry into believing her lies.
  • Grandfather Paradox: Referenced when Harry is talking to Vadderung about time travel and its consequences. Harry asks what would happen if he went back in time to kill his own grandfather (Ebenezer McCoy). Vadderung's answer is, "He beats you senseless, I suspect."
  • Healing Factor:
    • The Winter Mantle, though not to the extent Harry initially thought. Butters realizes a large part of it is just reduced pain sensitivity.
    • Also Mac, the bartender. When he's unconscious from a gunshot to the gut, Mab just reaches in and rips out the bullet. He starts healing immediately.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Upon realizing the sight of Mab about to torture him is an illusion, Harry declares his Name and gathers his strength for this.
  • Hidden Backup Prince:
    • A Princess to be precise. From the start of the book, Mab slowly trained her other daughter Sarissa to survive various horrors in the event Maeve refused to atone and repent. Sarissa does end up succeeding a Fae Queen, just not the one Mab expected.
    • Molly turns out to be a Hidden Hidden Back Up Princess. By her training with Lea for nearly a year made her a potential mortal who could inherit the power of a Fae Queen. She was so well hidden and off the beaten path, Maeve didn't even consider her in the plan.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: According to Mother Summer, the three Winter Queens are this. Each one has the capacity to love and feel affection. It's just their hearts are bound in Winter cold. But it's still there because you need to have a heart in order to have it frozen.
  • Hidden Supplies: Sarissa, Mab's pet mortal, has been around the Winter Court long enough to not walk around defenseless. She wore a couple of hair chopsticks with iron hidden in them to Harry's birthday ball, just in case.
  • Hijacking Cthulhu: Harry wrests control of The Wild Hunt from the Erlking and Kringle. Although he later realizes that they let him win.
  • Hive Mind: The Mother Summer and Mother Winter have some form of this. As Mother Summer tells Harry, what she knows, Mother Winter will know as well.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The Nemesis turned two characters to its cause, but in doing so made them much less effective, allowing for their defeat.
    • Cat Sith would normally kill his enemy immediately, but instead stopped to talk, allowing Harry time to win the fight.
    • Maeve gained the ability to lie and make her own choices against the nature of the Winter Lady, sure, but she didn't know how best to use that ability. If she hadn't chose to try and kill Harry Dresden on a whim, Karrin Murphy probably wouldn't have responded as she did.
    • The Redcap wounds Harry in the hopes that the Wild Hunt will kill him. It leads to injury for him.
    • Captain Hook, so named for his armor, is unknowingly taken prisoner by Harry during his escape from the Botanical Gardens because the hooks get caught in Harry's coat and the small fae was pounded just a bit too much to escape.
    • The magic circle Lily crafted is used by Harry to summon Mab past all of Demonreach's defenses where she stops the assault with one declarative statement.
  • Holy Hand Grenade:
    • Demonreach's final act to prevent an escape of its prisoners is to purge the region, which will include Chicago and a large part of the Midwest, with Banefire.
    • Soulfire comes up again. And with it infused into a bullet along with Winter magic, plus one shot to the head, finally destroys Sharkface's body and sends him back to whence he came.
  • Hope Bringer:
    • Like Archangel Uriel in Ghost Story Mother Summer, the Progenitor of Life, assures Harry he can choose to resist the pull of the Winter Mantle and remain himself. Her words also seem to imply any mortal who is given the Mantle of the Sidhe has the same choice.
    • Part of Kringle's duty is displaying kindness and hope in the cold darkness.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight:
    • An instance that occurs offscreen, when Karrin, Mouse, and company, get curb-stomped by Maeve and her allies.
    • And then Maeve's allies try nothing the moment Mab arrives on the field.
  • Humanity Is Insane: It's debated that the reason human magic doesn't play nice with electronics (or food, or a wizard's complexion, in previous centuries) is because humans are conflicted and full of inconsistencies. Fae lack any kind of internal conflict and thus can use modern tech.
    • Though, it's implied that it's less that humans are insane so much as that they have free will-the Fae, by definition, are locked into their roles, but humans aren't.
  • Humanity Is Superior: Compared to most every other supernatural force in existence, humans are weak. Humans lack the physical strength and/or physical grace nor the potent magic of the Fae, aren't physical gods like the Queens and Odin, and don't predate the Universe like the Angels and Fallen. But against all that, the one thing Humanity has that can trump all of them is Free Will. No force, no power can strip that from a human.
  • Human Shield: Harry acts as one for Fix when Lily believes her knight is dead. Harry uses his Winter ice to keep both of them from harm as the earth is scorched around them.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Molly notes that the White Court, and specifically Lara, holds this by not maintaining better control over who has access to their emergency fund card, and so able to access to practically limitless funds of White Court money. So she takes advantage of it while she can.
    • Harry accuses Molly of holding it by not trying to rebuild a relationship with certain members of the White Council. Sure, most are jerks, but to burn her bridges now and then 100 years down the line, rebuilding them is all the harder. Harry lampshades that he wished he had realized this years ago as it might have made his life easier.
    • Mab considers Harry to have held it twice. First when he fell into Maeve's gambit at the party. Second came from him not realizing sooner that he could use the giant magic circle Lily and Maeve crafted to summon her sooner than he had.
    • Winter Queen Mab acts like she held it for failing to anticipate Maeve could just kill Lily in a final act against her. Turns out she'd planned for that too.
    • Harry and Molly both admit they held the ball back in Changes by allowing Molly to come to the final battle and her part in his attempted suicide. Harry should have stopped her as her mentor and Molly admits she was too stubbon to have listened to the warnings back then. All they can do now is deal with the consequences and move on.
    • In regards to how Mab thought Harry held the ball that first instance, he holds it again for falling into a second "distract and attack" trap by the Redcap.
  • Ignore the Fanservice:
    • As mentioned in Diamonds in the Buff, Maeve wears just diamonds for Harry's birthday. He doesn't ignore her so much as shut her down on arrival with a brutal verbal smackdown.
    • Thomas reveals that Marcone has flat-out refused Lara's offers to make their professional relationship... closer. Thomas notes this is the second time a guy said no to Lara in a century, Harry being the first.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Used by Maeve, against Harry... again. And once again, she's pissed when it doesn't work. It's really just a ploy to throw him off his game so he'll run into another trap.
  • I Have Many Names:
    • Mother Winter has enough names that Harry is able to guess two of them just by picking a few that "seemed to suit her." Two of the names Harry uses are Atropos and Skuld, one of the Fates of Greek Mythology and the Norn of Norse Mythology. Mother Winter has pedigree.
    • Kringle notes that many beings, given enough time, have this as well. He notes there are still Wizards living today who grew up before "Santa Claus" became known, which is why he has no qualms about hunting with the Erlking.
      • And as it turns out, one of Kringle's other names is Odin.
    • The one mentioned under Names to Run Away from Really Fast with things like Hopeslayer counts too.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Harry tries to do this to Cat Sith, but a Villain Override happens as soon as it starts to work.
  • I Let You Win: Herne the Erlking and Kringle both wanted Harry to use The Wild Hunt, but couldn't just give him control. So they went after him personally, and let him defeat them, so that the hunt would follow him willingly. Harry realizes later that there's no way he could have realistically scored a hit on the Erlking and fought Kringle to the ground like he did.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Harry to Murphy on what he claims their relationship will be like if they ever become romantically involved.
    Harry: And the sex. It will be frequent. Possibly violent. You'll be screaming. Neighbors will make phone calls.
  • Inconvenient Summons: Harry tried to summon Mother Winter in his own grave. Unfortunately for Harry, she had recently lost her walking cane. This makes long journeys painful for her. So, she reverses the summon and brings Harry to her. She then tries to eat him as punishment for the hubris of even the thought of summoning her.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Harry and Thomas built a rudimentary dock at Deamonreach to make comings and goings easier. Before anyone could stop him, Harry decided the best name for it was the Whatsup Dock. Thomas's immediate (and fully justified) reaction was to throw Harry twenty feet into the lake.
  • Instant Soprano: A Groin Attack leaves Harry briefly stuck doing a Mickey Mouse impression.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Harry uses this to get Fix the Summer Knight to lose his head.
  • It's All My Fault: Mab, in the end, takes all the blame for Lily's death, the attack on Demonreach, and Maeve's continued living despite the risk she posed as an agent of Nemesis. She cared too much for her daughter to confront her. She speaks these words with deep regret and, Harry notices, resolution.
  • It's Personal: The reason why Titania nearly kills Harry, even when she realizes it's more logical to set it aside for the sake of reality.
  • It Was a Gift: In one room of Arctis Tor, Harry finds what seems to be a first edition of The Brothers Grimm work signed for Mab.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Threatened by Harry on Lacuna. But stopped before it can began. After he captures her, calls her his prisoner and she accepts, Harry cannot do this or be in violation of Mab's Law. Breaking that means the Mantle will leave him and he will be back in his injured state with a broken back.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • Harry assures The Redcap his current job as Winter Knight won't stop him from using fire-magic against him.
    • Part and parcel of being with Summer, Lily and Fix have powerful fire attacks.
  • Kill It with Water:
    • Water distorts and displaces magical energy. After Harry encounters a strong mystical region on the edge of Faerie where the Outsiders are constantly attacking he takes a long shower not just to relax but to act as a mystical decontamination to ensure nothing of the magic lingers on him and tries to alter him.
    • Likewise, when the Svartalves are inspecting Harry's car to make sure there's no technological or magical bugs on it, they finish by putting it under a waterfall just to be safe.
    • This is stated to be one of the reasons why Demonreach is in the middle of a lake.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Harry is stunned nearly into silence when he meets a Fae Lord of Winter who introduces himself as Kringle, and is made perfectly clear by description to be a warrior Santa Claus. Sarissa thinks it's adorable.
  • Kryptonite Factor:
    • Iron against the Fae is brought up again.
      • First at Harry's party, Sarissa brought iron on her and stabbed the fae holding her while Redcap and Harry fought.
      • During Harry and Summer Knight Fix's fight, Harry stabbed him with a nail left on Demonreach from when Harry and Thomas were doing repairs.
      • When The Wild Hunt is charging after him and Murphy, Harry shoots the helmet of Lord Herne the Hunter (a.k.a. the Erlking) dead on and gets Kringle to face him in an old steel mill where iron dust permeates the walls and dirt.
      • Averted with Mother Winter, who can touch iron. She can even turn it into rust.
    • A second weakness about the Queens is revealed: The Knights of their own Court. In a case of Like-hurting-like, as the Knight's Mantles come from the same source of the Queens, the Knight can bypass the opposing Mantle's blessing of Physical Godhood. This leaves the Queen on a power level equal to the average Sidhe against her Knight.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Harry faces this twice over.
    • First off, soon after returning to Chicago, he's nearly killed by a vicious swarm of Little Folk led by "Captain Hook," all of whom armed with iron nails that painfully bypass the effects of the Winter Knight's Mantle. As he himself realizes, this is almost exactly what the Cruel and Unusual Death that he inflicted on Summer Lady Aurora in Summer Knight probably felt like.
    • And later, he unwittingly made Mother Winter suffer through immense pain by trying to Summon her to Earth when she has lost her walking stick. As such, she gets back at Harry for hurting her pride and health by subjecting him to a terrifying Secret Test of Character where he would've almost certainly been Eaten Alive if he'd failed.
  • Laughing Mad/Mirthless Laughter: Harry starts to laugh hysterically when he realizes that Demonreach is not a stronghold: it's a prison so hard that six naagloshi (one of which nearly killed him in Turn Coat) are in minimum security.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Invoked in-universe, when Bob's explanation of one of the plot's ticking time bombs starts looking suspiciously like the opening to a Star Wars movie.
    Harry: Okay, come on. You're going to buy me a lawsuit, Bob.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Mac, of all people, gets one when Sharkface comes and threatens Harry and Thomas. He pulls out a shotgun and slides a pistol towards the brothers.
  • Literal-Minded:
    • Despite his growth in power and size, Toot-Toot is still this. When Harry asked him to watch his back, Toot asked Harry to lean forward.
    • After becoming Harry's vassal and prisoner, Lacuna shows this to an even greater degree. When Harry makes a snarky Self Deprecatory comment about how he's likely suffering from brain damage, Lacuna politely asks if she's allowed to crack open his skull and check for him. Very disturbed by this remark, Harry politely declines.
  • Little Black Dress: Sarissa comes to Harry's birthday party in one. Maeve thought it was an obvious ploy to get into bed with him.
    Sarissa: Me? You were wearing rhinestones! And nothing else!
    Maeve: They. Were. Diamonds!
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • One of Mab's laws for a formal party in Arctis Tor is that no one may spill blood without her knowledge and consent. Just a little while later, the Redcap threatens Harry with killing Sarissa, reassuring Harry that he'll just strangle Sarissa, and not a single drop of blood will be shed. Harry later likewise abuses a similar loophole by flash-freezing an opponent and shattering him — frozen blood doesn't spill—although one could argue that at that point he was acting with Mab's full consent.
    • Demonreach's final barrier around the Well will prevent anything that is not of the Island from passing through. Thomas, Murphy, and Harry's other allies cover themselves in mud, every nook and cranny of their bodies where the barrier could touch. It worked.
    • When Titania is in a magic circle made by Harry, she gets around it by using her Dishing Out Dirt powers to crack the ground circle was drawn on.
  • Loss of Identity: This is what the Mantle of any Fey does to any mortal who gives in to the power and does not control it. For example, a majority of the Winter and Summer Knights. This is because, as mortals, they have Free Will. Immortals do not and thus cannot resist their Mantles' influence, and according to Bob, the Mantles of the Fae Queens alter the personalities of their bearers. Bob may be wrong, however. Lily, despite being claimed by Bob to be 'pretty much Aurora'... is still motivated by Lily, and Maeve's actions are because of who she was. However, since we never get a look at a pre-corruption Aurora and no look at Molly (yet), we can't say for sure if their actions and motivations are truly inconsistent, or whether it is Nemesis that makes them so. Added to this is Mother Summer's veiled assertion that mortals can choose to become like their mantles or choose to resist. Many fail in becoming different than the mantle.
  • Love at First Punch: Toot-Toot for Lacuna, once he saw Lacuna was a girl under that armor.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: When the bartender Mac is shot in the stomach, he merely looks perturbed for a beat. Then, as if remembering that it should incapacitate him, he drops to a knee.
  • Make It Look Like a Struggle: Harry means to do this to Andi, he really does, but he still can't bring himself to hit her.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Titania calls herself this because of her tendency to act on emotions. As a result, she still has yet to (and probably never will) forgive Harry for slaying Aurora.
    • In hindsight, the ogre who made Sarissa bleed and made Mab go black with fury caused Mab to step into this because not only did this thing make someone bleed, he made Mab's daughter bleed.
  • Man Behind the Man: Up to Eleven. Nemesis is behind Maeve and most of the Big Bad's from previous books, the Black Council may be behind Nemesis (or vice-versa), and the Outsiders might be behind both of them. Maybe
  • Manipulative Bitch: Mab. Maeve. Basically most any female fae Harry exchanges words with is this and tries to get him to do what she thinks is best.
  • The McCoy:
    • Titania is this among the faerie, according to herself, while Mab is The Spock. However, these are the only traits which dictate their actions. If it comes down to a choice between everyone they care about and the rest of the world, Mab will choose the world, while Titania will choose her loved ones.
    • Amusingly, Mab is Mother Winter's McCoy. See Establishing Character Moment above.
  • Mind Control: Figuring out who has been made Brainwashed and Crazy by Nemesis and who hasn't becomes a major part of the plot. It's also strongly implied that Nemesis' mind-whammy has been the driving force between a lot of the conflicts in the series.
    • More Than Mind Control: There are ways to break the mind control, but the victim has to want it. Maeve doesn't, as she delights in the power to lie and damage her mother's plans.
  • The Mole: Maeve, sort of.
  • Monster Lord:
    • Lord Herne, the Erlking, leader of the goblins pops up.
    • Cat Sith, leader of the malks, appears serving Mab.
    • The Redcap, leader of the murderous fae of the same name, also appears.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Harry has this reaction after he meets with Titania and the discussion inevitably shifts onto Aurora. While he understands that her death was a cruel necessity since preventing her death would've caused The End of the World as We Know It, but as he himself admits and is able to better reflect on now since he's a parent, no matter what, he took Titania's little girl away from her forever and feels utterly disgusted with himself about it.
    • Additionally, Karrin suffers from a quiet one after killing Maeve. All she knew was at that moment Maeve was going to kill Harry. Nothing else mattered and so she shot Maeve. Murphy didn't realize the consequences of killing Maeve would turn Molly into the next Winter Lady.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Upon realizing Sharkface put him in a powerful illusion, Harry used this with his will pressing against the Outsider and shattered the illusion and gave him the edge against the abomination.
  • Mysterious Stranger: It becomes increasingly clear throughout the book that Harry doesn't know as much about his favorite bartender, Mac, as he should.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Sharkface gives his proper name and not some "mask" or nickname.
    • Cat Sith. Mentioning his name alone freaks Bob and Sarissa out. When one is the King of Malks and one of Mab's top valets, running would be smart if this feline is your enemy.
  • Never Mess with Granny:
    • Mother Winter nearly chops Harry up for stew meat with a cleaver, at one point. Turns out it's a test. Mostly.
    • Even kindhearted Mother Summer has signs of this as she tends to and cares for plagues as though they were potted plants and receives the full respect of a contingent of Winter fae when they see her before going to fight the Outsiders.
      Mother Summer: Showing respect to one's elders is never unwise.
      Harry: Yes, ma'am.
  • Nice Hat: The Redcap has several red hats he likes to wear, from a baseball cap to a beret. Problem is, however, he dyes them red with the blood of his victims.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!/Not Your Problem: A kind of inversion for the second. When Harry asks if Karrin would bring the Swords to fight on Demonreach, to protect all of reality, Karrin refuses. Because of her experience with one in Changes, her gut tells her this isn't their fight. It isn't their time. If they are brought out to fight now, they will be vulnerable and at risk.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Harry mentions the goblins, and notes that they're not the bumbling comic relief villains like how they're portrayed in The Hobbit.
    Harry: Real goblins are like mutant Terminator serial killer psycho ninjas. Think Hannibal Lecter meets Jackie Chan.
  • Noodle Incident: Harry briefly recalled when he summoned one being that came in the form of rancid meat. Took a while to get that stench out of his basement.
  • No-Sell: Harry learns that his basic magic circle barrier was nowhere near strong enough to stop Titania from shattering it with her will and power.
  • Not So Different:
    • Mab, of all people, invokes this after Maeve's death, in regards to Harry. She goes into great detail about how Harry shaped Molly into the perfect minion over the years. Then it becomes clear that despite all that, she does feel terrible about what happened.
    • Also, Mab and Titania. Titania makes her decisions based on emotion, and is furious with Harry for killing her daughter, but ultimately doesn't kill him because she knew that Aurora had been infected by Nemesis. Mab is calculating and ruthless in order to protect reality from the Outsiders, but she cannot bring herself to kill Maeve, despite it being the pragmatic thing to do, because she loves her daughter.
  • Not Helping Your Case: When Harry makes the slip and calls Sarissa and Maeve identical twins the response is both speaking in perfect unison, with the same tone and inflection, claiming they weren't identical.
  • Now or Never Kiss: Harry and Murphy, right before Harry runs off to fight Sharkface.
  • No, You: Played for Horror; instead of Harry Summoning Mother Winter to his gravesite, she drags him into Faerie.
  • Nudity Equals Honesty:
    Can you look at me right now and honestly say to yourself, 'Dresden, that wily genius! This must be a part of his master plan'?"
    I spread my hands and looked up at him expectantly.
    Fix looked at me, dirty, naked, shivering, burned, bruised, covered in soot and ash.
  • Numerological Motif: Twelve pops up, though the exact reason isn't known why. The Well leading to the prison cells on Demonreach has a staircase of seventeen hundred and twenty-eight, or twelve cubed, stairs, and there are twelve tunnels. Merlin must have held some reason for this.
  • The Oath-Breaker: Harry learns that he is bound by the Laws and Customs of the Winter Court, by virtue of being the Winter Knight. As such, he must honor Lacuna's surrender to him and her being his prisoner in exchange for, among other things, no torturing for information. When Harry makes a simple declarative statement that he would ignore Mab's Law his back goes back to being broken and all the injuries he isn't feeling are felt in their full form until he backtracks.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct: Mac operates on this. He is "out" and seeks to be nothing more than a neutral tavern owner. Not even when Sharkface crashes into his tavern, he is captured by Redcap's people, and there is a threat of the Well being breached will he talk about himself.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: A number are hinted at from the final battle.
  • Oh, Crap!: Many, including Harry's reaction to realizing that Molly is about to be turned into a Sidhe Queen.
    • The discovery that Demonreach's island holds a freaking huge amount of Sealed Evil in a Can.
    • When Mab gives him his first order: Kill Maeve.
    • Actually said by Harry when he sees that the barge Murphy grenaded is moving again.
    • Fix, when he considers just how messed up things are if Maeve can lie.
    • Mab's face, when Harry threatens to have Demonreach throw her into The Well.
    • Harry when he discovers that Rashid's title of Gatekeeper is a bit more literal than he had ever realized.
    • As fearsome and dangerous as the Redcap is, even he and his companions crap themselves when they realize Cat Sith is attacking them. See Stealth Hi/Bye below.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: When Harry is talking with Mother Summer and she tells how he can choose to not become like Lloyd Slate and all the other murderous Knights who came before, she gives vague answers telling Harry anyone who bears the Mantle of the Sidhe Court can choose to not become a projection of the Mantle. After a few minutes Harry asks if they really are talking about him. The person responds, "We are. And we are not."
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: This is the Winter Queens' belief for who becomes the Winter Knight. The catch is that each one has different criteria. So while Harry was selected by Mab and went through Training from Hell, and is liked well-enough by Maeve, this means little to Mother Winter as she plans to kill him, stew his remains and pick the next knight herself, until Harry breaks free of her binding over him and then shows both loyalty to her (despite what she was about to do) and wisdom, and has the courage of his convictions.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Harry's Winter-Knight-fueled outbursts of psychopathic impulse are used to impress on the reader (and Harry's friends) just how not-cool the Knight's mantle is.
    • Mab is The Spock, Titania is The McCoy. Yet the plot is set in motion because of Mab being emotional — she can't kill Maeve herself because she loves her. And when Harry meets Titania, she notes that the wisdom of her heart says that she should hate Harry for killing Aurora — but she lets him go because, logically, Harry needed to do it (since Aurora was possessed by Nemesis) and killing Harry wouldn't give her Aurora back. Then there's Mab's actions in the final chapter — when Harry threatens her with imprisonment in Demonsreach, she shows genuine fear. When Harry worries about Molly, she actually tries to comfort him in her own twisted way. And in the end, she reveals a secret of herself to Harry.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Harry realizes that Cat Sith and Maeve have been suborned by Nemesis when they show some moments of this (although it took him a while to realize Maeve's moment)- Cat Sith gloats to Harry instead of just killing him from ambush, and Maeve gives a straight, easy-to-understand rundown of the events with no roundaboutness, ambiguity, or Exact Words to speak of (which is basically impossible to the Fae, as being indirect is part of their nature).
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Of a sort. Harry first realizes that the feline in his chambers is more than the average Malk when he calmly rebuffs Harry's threats—up until then, Harry's experience with malks has been with them as bloodthirsty little monsters (they're to cats what Hannibal Lector is to people, according to Harry).
  • Paparazzi: Cat Sith tells Harry he doesn't know if there will be these at the party Mab is throwing, but hopes so as "dispatching" intruders into Mab's home would please him greatly.
  • Papa Wolf: Harry tells Karrin he loves his daughter Maggie so much that the thought that she could be in pain is unbearable to him. This fact will lead to the "Eureka!" Moment above.
  • Paranoia Fuel: In-Universe Nemesis is this. There's no way to tell who has it, until they start going visibly off the deep end at least, and Harry spends a large portion of the book worrying if his friends have been infected.
  • Parental Favoritism: Maeve feels her sister Sarissa was and is always favored by Mab, despite Maeve Choosing to be the Winter Lady while Sarissa remained between worlds. And because she remained a Changeling, Sarissa got to hang out with their mother in happier and more open moments than Maeve would ever know.
  • Parrying Bullets: Fix deflects Lily's mini-star attack with his sword, saving Harry's life. When it hits the ground it creates a column of superheated flame.
  • Physical Therapy Plot: Following the events of Ghost Story, Harry undergoes physical therapy with Sarissa as his therapist. But since he does that in Arctis Tor, Mab often adds some unexpected elements to the therapy, which means that she is trying to kill him most days. Which has the added benefit of making Harry regain his abilities all the faster.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The Paranoia Fuel causes this. Because of the fear another person could be infected, what is said is kept to the bare minimum. Add to that, neither Titania nor Mother Summer ever told Lily the purpose of the Island of Demonreach, allowing Maeve's lies to have a greater effect. Especially as her openness and "honesty" when others are tight-lipped gives her an edge.
  • Power Incontinence: Molly is still suffering from her powerful empathic abilities. Her power is so great, being in a crowded room is extremely uncomfortable.
  • The Power of Hate: The Mantle of the Winter Knight makes Harry a predator of the worse mindset, looking at his weaker female friends as prey to be claimed and male friends as competition to be destroyed. Later, when facing Maeve, he calls on its power, and she uses it as a way into his mind to make him hate more and be corrupt like her.
  • The Power of Rock: While rock music itself isn't a source of power, Thomas and Molly's Big Damn Heroes moment is made much more epic by the inclusion of "We Will Rock You" by Queen.
    • The iconic beat of the song actually stops Harry from tapping into one of the island's ley lines, which would have had potentially disastrous consequences given its source.
  • Power-up Full Color Change: At the party for Harry, an ogre punched Sarissa, spilling her blood. This causes Mab to change the color of her clothes, eyes, and hair from snow white to ink black as she barely contains her anger at this violation of her law.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Both Lily and Maeve's deaths are described as one of these.
  • The Promise: Bob wants Harry's word on his Power that for telling him how to kill an immortal, Harry will make him a second home to hide in if his current skull is destroyed. Harry gives it.
  • Rage Breaking Point: When what Harry says or rather, Maeve's illusion of what he said is heard by Summer Lady Lily's ears, it causes Lily to erupt with fury; she raises her voice for the first time and launches fire that would have cremated Harry (and Fix, whom Harry was shielding) had Harry not shielded both with Winter Cold.
  • Ramming Always Works: Justified, as they weren't trying to sink the barge, but move it away from the ley line.
  • Rape as Drama: Invoked, but not used fully. Thanks to the warping influence of the Knight's mantle, Harry has vivid fantasies of raping Maeve, Lily, Molly, and Andi. Harry resists, and finds the implications just as disturbing (if not more) as the reader does.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mother Summer and Mother Winter (in her own weird way). There's also Kris Kringle... sort of.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Harry receives one from Bob after Harry takes him back. Bob calls Harry out on his Winter-style behavior of not trusting or even telling his True Companions he is alive. Instead, he breaks into Butter's home, assaults Andi the werewolf, and won't tell her anything on the excuse it is for her protection. And the reason Harry only told Bob this information is because right now his personality is mirroring Harry, as Harry is the owner of his skull. So Bob would be a happy Yes-Man for Harry. Then Bob notes because his personality is mirroring Harry, part of this speech is Harry's own hatred of his current choices.
  • Red Herring: Mab is not the one corrupted by the Outsiders. Maeve is.
  • Remember That You Trust Me: Thomas gives Harry a lot of grief about not asking for help.
  • The Reveal: In spades. Demonreach is the guardian for a whole island of Sealed Evil in a Can, the Winter Court serves as the first line of defense against Outsiders (and the Summer Court serves as a check and balance on their power), and Molly has been groomed to assume the mantle of a Sidhe Queen.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Sarissa worries about getting close to men in a relationship because, as Mab's pet human, Mab's enemies could kill Sarissa's boyfriend to get at Mab, but the action is distant enough that Mab couldn't respond.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    • Played for laughs. Paraphrased:
      Thomas: Why can't the fae ever play it straight for a change?
      Harry: Yeah, but think about how boring everything would be if they were all on the level.
      We both considered wistfully for a moment.
    • Harry asks Mother Winter for help in stopping a great tragedy. She just laughs and reminds him she is the Queen of destruction and tragedy, finding sorrow and suffering extremely enjoyable. He has to tell her that Nemesis is involved in order to get her aid.
  • Royal "We": At the formal party in the beginning of the book, when Mab addressed the entire court she speaks with this and not a singular pronoun until after Maeve and Redcap's failed attempt to kill Sarissa spilled blood at which time, she went back to single pronouns.
  • Rule of Three: Once again, three is an important number in magic.
    • Harry uses it to summon Cat Sith and Titania and it becomes a very important plot point when Cat Sith doesn't answer after three calls.
    • When fighting a mental battle with Sharkface, Harry demands his opponent's name three times, and receives an answer on the third.
      Harry: Thrice I command thee! Thrice I bid thee! By my name I command thee: Tell me who you are!
    • Again when he calls Mab's name thrice in order to summon her to Demonreach.
      Harry: Mab! Mab! Mab! I summon thee!
    • Toot-toot reveals he can read. He knows the words "chocolate," "pizza," and "exit." And that's about that.
  • Running Gag: Harry and Thomas have a fairly frequent "Nice," "Thanks," routine.
  • Sacred Hospitality:
    • The Fae must honor it. As explained by Cat Sith, if a Fae enters a home uninvited, the Fae is bound to act honorably and not leave the home in a worse state than when they arrived. Even if they are attacked by the host, they will not respond at the moment. Harry realizes that Cat Sith's full, detailed, and honest explanation of this topic is in itself an example of him being bound by Sacred Hospitality. He was asked to explain this topic and anything short of what he gave would violate it.
    • Mab presumably extends this to all visiting delegates during the formal party at the start, provided they abide by her two rules. This is what allows the Erlking and Eldest Gruff to visit without worry of a knife in the back.
    • Just before Sharkface attacks Mac's, Harry asks the host if they may fight if it comes to it. The owner's guttural growl and loading his own weapon is taken as permission to fight if the need arises.
    • Harry apologizes to Mother Summer for some damage caused when he escaped Mother Winter's bind on him. Mother Summer tells him to not worry as he was the one dragged there against his will, she holds nothing against him. Harry still gently fixed the shelf he disheveled.
    • Mab after being summoned to Demonreach, asks once more to touch the land before doing so and when Harry threatens her life, rather than turn him to stone, she excuses his threat as she is a guest and he has had a tough day.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Captain Hook is a female little fae.
  • Santa Claus: Meets Harry at his birthday party. Harry is visibly fanboying over him. He stands taller than Harry and is described as bear-like in muscle and proportions. He's also Odin in disguise.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • Molly is still a wanted Warlock for the many violations of the Laws of Magic, namely using magic to kill and using mind-altering magic. Mab points out this no longer matters when Molly becomes the Winter Lady as Mab will never hand her over to be tried and any attempt to take her would bring the ire of Mab down upon aggressors.
    • Harry justifies and permits Summer Knight Fix to attack Maeve's cohorts, despite them being nobles of the Winter Court. By his position of Mab's Knight, he declared Redcap and the others fugitives to the Winter Court and so no war can come from Fix striking them.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • Some people were ambushed by Cat Sith. Those who remained tried running when they realized Cat was behind it. Cat Sith didn't let all of them get away.
    • Some fae dogs were on Demonreach intending to ambush Harry and company. Because of Intellectus, Harry could spot them. He shot one before they were close enough, set the second one's hiding spot on fire, and the third wisely ran off, helping its friends to escape.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • Demonreach's island serves as the can.
    • Also, a tiny detail slipped in that's probably going to end up being incredibly important — Mother Summer has a shelf in her cabin that is lined with small bottles sealed with wax. The shelf shifts, and Harry goes to put them back up for her — and then realizes that they are labeled with things like "Black Death" and "Cholera". One is slightly cracked, and Mother Summer gently puts it back up, saying "This one is not ready to be born yet." That bottle is labeled "Wormwood". In the Biblical chapter of Revelation, wormwood is a star that falls to Earth during the apocalypse and poisons all of Earth's water. Fun fact: The word for "wormwood" in one Ukrainian dialect is chernobyl. Guess we know when that jar got cracked...
  • Secret Keeper:
    • Molly was asked by Lea to not tell anyone of Harry being back among the living.
    • Harry tells the Summer Knight Fix about Maggie's existence. Fix quickly realizes the value of this information and realizes just how much Harry trusts him and needs him, despite them fighting just a few minutes prior.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Odin and Rashid reveal they knew about Demonreach's purpose, and Harry's mother being McCoy's daughter before Harry did.
  • Secret Test of Character
    • Mab likes this trope. When Harry first meets Sarissa, he realizes she was "given" to him to see if he would let himself be consumed by the more predatory aspects of the Mantle. It takes him a while to realize that Mab wanted him to resist those aspects; she needs an intelligent and shrewd minion, not a mindless thug. It's only much later he realizes it (and the rest of his Training from Hell during physical therapy) was a test for Sarissa as well.
    • Continuing from Ghost Story Molly's continued training with Lea was part of a long trial to make Molly ready to become a Sidhe Lady, whether Molly knew or wanted the job or not.
    • When Harry tries to summon Mother Winter, she yanks him into her domain instead and starts preparing to cut him up for dinner. He figures out how to break her power over him, which was her objective all along. If he hadn't passed her test, she probably would have eaten him.
  • Self-Duplication: Sharkface reveals this power at the climax of the battle off Demonreach's shores.
  • Servile Snarker: Cat Sith serves Harry on Mab's orders. He dislikes his position but he will do it and will show Harry only a minimal level of respect. If Harry shows him due respect by making it an order veiled in a request, such as "If you would please do X" he is a bit more cordial.
    Harry: Wait. You work for me?
    Cat Sith: I prefer to think of it as managing your incompetence.
  • Shipper on Deck: Mouse implies he is all for Harry/Murph
  • Ship Tease:
    • Harry/Karrin. Again. This is the first book wherein Harry consistently refers to Murphy as "Karrin", her first name, both to her face and perhaps more importantly within the narration. Plus, they do have a Big Damn Kiss on Demonreach even if by the end of the book they've agreed that they both need time to figure out where things really stand between them, but that they're also well past being Just Friends and if the time were to come that they're both ready, they'll move forward without hesitation.
    • On the other hand, this is also the first book where Harry does not absolutely shut down any possibility of things changing between him and Molly; he expresses doubt, but at least acknowledges the possibility of something eventually happening, though he reiterates that he doesn't return the feelings she has for him and couldn't forgive himself if he took advantage of her in that way.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Maeve was once a changeling, daughter of Mab, and Sarissa's identical twin sister. Maeve Chose to become Fae, while Sarissa refused to Choose. Maeve always felt like The Unfavorite (since Sarissa's job description was to be BFF's with their mother), and with the Nemesis parasite in her head, decided to do whatever it took to upset Mab's plans.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor:
    • Mab is this. She could even be goddess off it because her "sinking" involved trying to kill Harry a different way each day for eleven weeks. If he could not survive these trifles then he would have even less a chance against what is to come.
    • Mother Winter, whom Mab takes after, wanted to see if Harry had the will and intelligence to break free from her little trap.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Provides an endless source of angst for Harry, particularly when he finally finds out that Lloyd Slate was not the Winter Knight because he was a monster, he was a monster because he gave into the Mantle's influence.
  • Snowlems: Mab has some in her service. What type is hard to say because they were mentioned only at a distance as they fought against the Outsiders.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Molly identifies herself to Harry, after saving him, by quoting Obi-wan. Harry notes it is rare when the forces of darkness quote Star Wars. Serves as a Call-Back to Ghost Story—Harry quoted Obi-Wan in that book to convince Molly he was genuine.
  • Spanner in the Works: Among the Paranetters is one who truly annoys Butters with his daily e-mails about strange happenings based on statistical events. A true Conspiracy Theorist who sees magic as the cause of various events. He lives in his parents' basement and just won't leave Butters alone. However, his latest e-mail about the increase in boat rentals actually clues Harry in on a possible way for the Big Bad to act that wasn't considered before. And he was right.
  • The Spock: According to Titania, Mab is this among the faerie, while Titania is The McCoy. However, these are the only traits which dictate their actions. If it comes down to a choice between everyone they care about and the rest of the world, Mab will choose the world, while Titania will choose her loved ones. However, not even Mab could kill her own child for the sake of the world and needs Harry to do it for her.
  • Squishy Wizard: Averted with Harry. Considering his physical training he went through, including the attempts on his life, he is probably in better shape than he was before. However, some people still assume Harry to be this. Harry punched one such person in the face in a fight.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Cat Sith is very good at it. So good, even in combat he is undetectable.
    Harry: Hey, weren't there seven of you guys a minute ago?
    [few seconds later]
    Harry: Hey, weren't there six of you guys a minute ago?
  • Stealth Pun: Harry realizes a foe is a type of fairy called a "red cap" partly because he's wearing a baseball hat for the Cincinnati team. note 
  • Stone Wall: Demonreach is this. He was designed to endure oncoming assaults. It is implied he could be a Mighty Glacier, but refrained from killing Maeve and Lily right away, theorized by Harry because it might destroy the island.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Once you get past their very different outfits, Harry realizes that Titania and Mab look almost completely identical. So do Maeve and Sarissa.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Demonreach's construction is such advanced work that it is magic to Harry. Bob equates Harry's current level of understanding and power in wizardry is equal to making stone wheels and wooden axles. The stuff around them is approximately the internal combustion engine.
  • Summon Bigger Fish:
    • Harry summons Mab to Demonreach to stop Lily and Maeve's attempts to break into the Well. She does so with a single sentence.
    • Harry pulls another one later When Mab pulls his gun on him to remind him of his place. Harry replies by summoning Demonreach and ordering it to jail Mab if she pulls the trigger. Mab immediately takes this as Harry proving his worth as Winter Knight, though her initial reaction implies she felt Demonreach could've very well accomplished this order, especially with the circle active.
  • Summon Magic: Harry narrates, once again, that magic circles are good for ritual magic because they act as a focus point for said ritual. They can also be used in part of a summon if the summoner is from the mortal world. Harry realizes, after sometime, Lily and Maeve have made a large one in their assault against Deamonreach. He uses it to summon Mab.
  • Summoning Ritual: For mortals to summon anything, all one needs is a circle and sacrifices and appeasements to their nature. The four basic elements, earth, water, air, and fire, are usually good when dealing with a nature spirit like the fae.
  • Taken for Granite: Mab notes that when Harry puts a gun to her head and readies to fire she has turned villages to stone for less insults.
  • Telepathy: Molly's power has grown stronger yet so she can immediately sense when Harry's Mantle is making him think certain things. She can also read Mouse's thought.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • The trope itself is brought up prior to the final battle.
    • Maeve does it, asking Dresden and Sarissa where Mab is during this confrontation and how Mab can't come because they are in a circle. This makes Dresden realise the Circle can double as a summoning circle, and he summons Mab.
  • They Have the Scent!: Thanks to a poisoned wound courtesy of Red Cap, Harry is continuing to bleed, meaning the Wild Hunt has his scent big time.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: McAnally's bar invokes this with its thirteen carved columns in an asymmetrical pattern, thirteen tables scattered around, and thirteen ceiling fans in various locations. The randomness and number act as a magical break wall to the emotionally-induced magical outputs by patrons. The lights and fans rarely stop working.
  • Through His Stomach: Toot-toot notes that had Harry's godmother Lea not continued giving the Za Lord's guard a weekly pizza while Harry was indisposed with being mostly dead and then Mab's "therapy," most would have left the guard.
  • Time Master:
    • The Mothers are this in their domain as they make it so the long walk they have with Harry is only seconds in the human world.
    • When the heroes run into a temporal wave that will make them reach the island too late, Harry turns to Santa Claus to help them out of the wave and back into normal time. As noted, time magic is one of his things.
    • One of the original Merlin's power was this as Demonreach was built not in three dimension, but 4 (or more) and doing so involved Merlin time traveling to build Demonreach multiple times at different time periods.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Cat Sith. He openly admits to be a Combat Pragmatist and takes great pleasure in dispatching people he loathes, such as Harry, paparazzi, and incompetent fools (*cough*Harry*cough*).
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • A ogre who spills blood in defiance of one of Mab's commands. It doesn't end well for it.
    • Soon after, Harry gives a Badass Boast that he will attack any Fairy he finds abusing a mortal in his presence. He then asks if there are any questions. One Sidhe starts to ask how dare Harry think he can order any of them around but ends up like the ogre above.
  • Tough Love: Mother Winter to Mab and Mab to her daughters. While Winter's cold freezes the emotion in their hearts, they must have hearts to be frozen in the first place, and as such they know love. Their ability to act on it, however, is hindered and they must express it in roundabout ways.
  • Training from Hell: The book opens with Mab's idea of "physical therapy." This takes the form of a changeling nurse helping Harry with the standard rehabilitation (walking with parallel bars, learning to feed himself), mixed with Mab trying to murder Harry in a new and different way each day. For 77 days. Harry gives a rundown of four or five methods, then finishes with:
    Harry: Use your imagination. Mab sure as hell did. There was a ticking crocodile.
  • Training Montage:
    • Invoked by name. Harry even names the background music (Foo Fighters' Walk).
    • At the end of the book, it is revealed Sarissa was also meant to endure the hell with Harry as part of her training to become a good Winter Lady should Maeve die.
  • Truce Zone: Mac's bar is still a pretty Neutral place all sides can gather to get drinks. When the Fomor try assaulting it, the entire Better Future Sociecty (so Karrin, the Alphas, Molly, the Vikings, Marcone's people, and Lara's vampires) come down like an Avalanche. It is said this is the only time when all factions will respond swiftly and without deliberation. Later Harry is forced to fight inside it because Sharkface is attacking. Mac has no qualms with this.
  • True Companions: A recurring theme in the book is that Harry, for all his power, isn't big or strong enough to punch as far out of his weight class as he needs to. Fortunately, whenever he gets in over his head, his friends are there to back him up.
    Donar/Odin: What do you have?
    Harry: [dawning realization] Friends.
  • Unholy Nuke: This is what the Outsiders were trying to unleash by destroying Demonreach.
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • Harry, briefly, when Maeve cons him into thinking that Mab is corrupted, not her.
    • Lily also, and without a wakeup call until much, much too late.
  • Victory Is Boring: Harry plays Maeve with this idea at the start when Maeve tricked Harry into her trap and has Redcap in a place to kill Sarissa. Harry ups the stakes to make the game more interesting by offering to go with Maeve willingly if they change the rules of the current situation just a little. As Harry is Mab's Knight this would be a big slap to the Queen's face. So Maeve accepts gleefully.
  • Villain Ball:
    • Nemesis-infected Cat Sith didn't check Sith's mind and habits enough to know Cat Sith would never talk to his prey.
    • Maeve held it a few times. She used her ability to tell lies to the point Harry, and later Fix, noticed her straightforward and openness as a big Out Of Character moment. She ignored Molly's training. She didn't have her prisoners searched for additional weapons. Then she tried to kill Harry in front of Murphy, and Murphy drawing her backup weapon and Maeve died, her gambit almost a complete failure.
    • Summer Knight Fix, from a Hero Antagonist way, holds it because first he never considered Harry fighting him with anything less than 100% of the Winter Mantle, never considered Harry would go off-script in the battles of instincts the two mantles give them.
  • Villainous Rescue: Because the White Council is bogged down in Europe and American Wardens running thin, when a Paranetter sends out a distress call because of Fomor, Lara sends out a strike team to their location in less than an hour and is able to do serious damage to the Fomor's plots. The only downside is with each rescue Lara now knows the location of a weaker practitioner.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Sarissa describes her position in the Winter Court as Mab's humanity Sherpa. Mab doesn't understand humanity very well, so Sarissa takes Mab places, like rock concerts, movies, ice skating, and, yes, shopping. Harry is, quite understandably, boggled by this.
    Harry: Wait. Your job is... You're BFF's with Mab?!
  • Villain Override: When Nemesis directly puppets Cat Sith.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend:
    • Murphy and Harry's exact relationship is still up in the air, but this still fits, especially at the climax when Murphy is the one to gun down Maeve before the Winter Lady can kill Harry.
    • Their exact relationship is unsaid, but upon thinking Harry killed her Fix, Lily unleashes her Summer fury and threatens to cremate Harry for his actions.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Harry witnessed a Sidhe fly in as a bird, shift to the human form, fire a few shots with some guns in hand, and then shift back all in midair and each shot with amazing accuracy.
  • Volleying Insults: Thomas and Harry after the former vents much of his anger but is still bitter about Harry's choices.
  • Vorpal Pillow: Mab's first attempt to kill Harry as part of his 'physical therapy' is to try to smother him with his pillow.
  • Warrior Therapist: Elder Gruff has been this with Titania, and has helped her past her anger over what Harry did to Aurora.
  • We Have Reserves: Implied. It is revealed Maeve sacrificed several Nemesis infected people to get Lily to believe her about her "scanning" powers.
  • We Help the Helpless: Despite becoming the Winter Knight, Harry is still this at heart. He gives the Winter Court fair warning after Maeve tries to have Redcap kill Harry and Sarissa that if he sees any of them with a mortal and will soon be abusing said mortal, he will freeze them so even their blood is solid and shatter them. The idiot who tries to object to Harry's claim gets frozen mid-sentence.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: "Maeve, you are a vicious Goddamn psychopath and we need you back." It doesn't happen.
  • Wham Line:
    • Early on, when Harry meets with Demonreach.
      Harry: This isn't a magical stronghold. It's a prison. It's a prison so hard that half a dozen freaking naagloshii are in minimum security.
      Demonreach: CORRECT, WARDEN.
    • Also, when Mab gives Harry his first assignment. Anyone who read the plot summary on the back of the book knew she was going to request that he kill an immortal. The immortal in question? Not the one most people were expecting.
      Mab: Kill my daughter. Kill Maeve.
  • Wham Episode: Reveals come flying from left, right, and center. The nature of Demonreach, the roles of the Sidhe in the structure of reality, and the Outer Gates are all expanded on; Men Behind the Men and Greater-Scope Villains are all over the place; and, oh yeah, Maeve and Lily are dead, Molly's the new Winter Lady, and Harry's parasite is going to burst out of his head and kill him if it isn't removed in time.
    • The ending in particular is one of those avalanches of whams and unexpected twists — Tonight, Someone Dies has been driving the entire plot ever since the meeting with Lily and Maeve, but if you think you've figured out who's going to live and who's going to die, and what's going to happen as a result, you're wrong. No matter what.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Harry gets this a lot, thanks to the mantle of the Winter Knight making him increasingly unstable. One instance is he doesn't just open up to his friends and trust them, instead he breaks into Waldo's place to steal Bob back.
    • Thomas gives a particularly poignant one when he finds out that Harry is alive and didn't tell him. He is also pissed that Harry would rather chicken out and be killed rather than live with the power of Mab inside of him, making Harry, in his own beliefs, a monster. Compared to Thomas who is forced to endure his demon.
    • Averted with Murphy and Molly, who are the only ones of his friends who don't call him out when they first meet up with him.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: As before, sunrise starts a new day and weakens or outright ends enchantments. Also Halloween's mystical night ends when the first birdsong is sung.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?:
    • The Winter Fae protect reality from the Outsiders. The Summer Fae protect everyone else from Winter.
    • By an extension of this, Mab wants Harry to be her Watchman. At the end, in the span of a few minutes, Harry gives her two serious threats to her life and openly states he will hurt her if she harms Molly, and she is happy with this. She doesn't want some Yes-Man, but one that is smart enough to think on his own. Possibly even to kill her if she was ever taken by Nemesis.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: This is what tips off Harry that Cat Sith is possessed-he's a Combat Pragmatist and, if he wanted to kill Harry, he would've just done so.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Lily believes in the good in people and Maeve, which leads her to assist in attacking Demonreach.
  • The Wild Hunt: Shows up again for the first time since Dead Beat. Harry defeats it, earning leadership of the hunt, then declares, "Tonight, we hunt Outsiders!"
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Harry has to deal with the Mantle of the Winter Knight pushing him to be more like a predator, in every sense of the word. Even after using the full power of the Mantle and having a woman offer herself to him specifically to sate those desires, he still doesn't give in.
  • Worth It: By the end of the book, Mab considers keeping Harry alive and rehabilitating him this. From his attempted suicide to get out of being the Winter Knight, to him seriously threatening her life twice in the span of a few minutes, Harry shows a mindset well worth the lumps and problems he can give her because he won't end up as a Yes-Man who follows orders without question. Instead, he will look at things many times over and if they feel wrong, he will look into them deeper and search out the truth. And, as the two attempts to kill her show, if she falls to Nemesis' corruption, she can trust Harry to put her down.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Harry proved himself to the Erlking (again) and Kringle, and thus a person both wish to hunt.
    • Mab and Nemesis may be two forces completely against the other with the latter wishing to destroy reality, while Mab's duty is to protect it, but Mab still respects Nemesis' power and plans. Justified because to think little of this ancient entity would be a grave folly on Mab's part.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Lily thinks she's the heroine of the story, saving the world by attacking the evil island of Demonreach. She also fails to realize Maeve has been lying to her.
  • Yes-Man:
    • Harry subverts this because he questions his orders and what is before him, despite being the Winter Knight.
    • Fix is one. He follows Lily's commands without question or objection, leading him to never question Maeve's openness because Lily never did.
  • You Are Worth Hell: Murphy to Harry.
    Murphy: So goddammit, don't you start taking the highway to Hell. Because I'm going to be right there with you. All the way.
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: As God Needs Prayer Badly, Mab wishes to ensure the Winter Fae are not forgotten. So she searched out wordsmiths The Brothers Grimm to write down tales and legends of her court. Their work would spread and be told to children for generations to come, ensuring the Fae become an idea that cannot be destroyed. Harry also suspects that Mab may have reached out to Walt Disney for the same reason.
  • You Owe Me: Inverted because Harry offers to owe Odin a favor in exchange for his wisdom. Odin accepts, plus a nickel, but, knowing Harry, doesn't consider this a long term investment.
  • You Remind Me of X: Mab tells Harry he reminds her of the previous Winter Knight Tam Lin when Harry told her court he would protect any mortal he catches them abusing. It should also be said Tam Lin, according to legend, was also loved by the Fairy Queen, and in the end was able to escape the Queen to be with his truelove as a mortal.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame:
    • Harry, to Mab, when Mab compliments Harry on how thoroughly he "manipulated" Molly into being loyal to him.
    • He then gets the above-mentioned Oh, Crap! from her, then delivers a pointed Kirk Summation, leaving her showing grudging (and/or delighted, hard to tell with Mab) respect for him once again.


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