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Literature / Proven Guilty

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Warden off danger.

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

The One with... Harry's new job and all the movie monsters.

Dark magic is afoot in Chicago. Harry Dresden, now a Warden of the White Council, finds himself dealing with the politics of the magical world, learning where the mercurial Summer Court stands in the war between the White Council and the vampires, and investigating a series of attacks by creatures that feed on fear.

So having to make peace between his Holy Knight best friend's precocious teenage daughter and said knight's wife is probably not coming with the best of timing.

Proven Guilty is book #8 in The Dresden Files.


Proven Guilty provides example of the following tropes:

  • 90% of Your Brain: This is the first instance of mentioning that Lasciel inhabits, as Harry states, "...the ninety percent of the brain humans don't use." Harry then mentions in his case, it's probably 95 percent.
  • All of Them: Lea's response when Harry asks how many fae of the Winter Court are coming in response to Harry shooting Summer fire into the Winter wellspring. For once, it's strongly implied that this is Not Hyperbole.
  • Already Done for You: Harry and company finds the gates of Mab's fortress Arctis Tor destroyed and main guards already slain upon arriving.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: In the process of escaping from Madrigal Raith's attempts to sell him to the highest bidder, Harry corners his would-be captors and seems to have gained the upper hand... until a bigger nasty crashes the party and sends everyone running for cover.
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  • Armor Is Useless: A very strange case, especially considering Jim Butcher's Author Appeal for medieval fighting. When attempting to flee from the Winter Court, Harry and the rest take off their armor because it's starting to weigh them down while they're trying to get away. Considering that there isn't that much distance to the portal out, it would take more time to strip off all of their armor then they would gain back in speed by not wearing it. What makes it particularly glaring, however, is that since they don't want to leave the armor behind, they elect to carry it instead. Obivously, it's considerably more encumbering to carry armor in your hands or in a backpack then to simply wear it as the weight distributes across your shoulders and entire body while worn.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Harry glares at Molly with a look he normally reserves for rampaging demons and those survey people at malls.
    • He also admits to her he didn't expect surviving raiding a faerie capital, standing up to the Senior Council, horror movie monsters, and her mom.
  • Badass Longcoat: Harry Lampshades how people stop thinking he's a superhero when he doesn't wear his leather duster.
  • Badass Normal: Several examples.
    • Murphy qualifies, as a mundane policewoman fighting against creatures of the Nevernever.
    • Rawlins, another police officer who doesn't even have the advantage of Murphy's experience with the supernatural.
    • Charity Carpenter also turns out to be quite capable with a hammer, which is extremely helpful against the Cold Iron-hating faerie. Furthermore, it also turns out that she has been regularly training with Michael this whole time, and is the primary reason for why Michael is so skilled in combat.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Near the end of the novel, Harry looks like he's about to confess to having Lasciel's coin... but instead confesses to his guilt over having killed both the Corpsetaker and Quintus Cassius last year. Then he confesses to having Lasciel's coin (though he hasn't actually taken the coin up yet).
  • Batman Cold Open: The book begins with the execution of a warlock, and much of the plot of the story is about how to handle another warlock.
  • Batman Gambit: It is never truly said whether the Gatekeeper Rashid, Faery Queens Lily and Maeve or Mab, or Godnote  started the events in motion to help save Molly, Harry, and the members of the Senior Council, but the plan works out perfectly in the end. See Gambit Pileup for more.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Harming innocents pisses Harry off. Harming his friends and loved ones is worse. He even makes Winter Lady Maeve afraid of him for a brief moment when he notes she's done this.
    • Speaking badly of Thomas's Star Crossed Lover Justine is a good way to make him angry. He kneecaps his cousin Madrigal Raith for it. With a shotgun.
    • Harming Harry is Mouse's berserk button. Even after being hit by a car, he chases down the men who kidnapped Harry.
    • Harming Harry's Dog. When Harry thinks Glau has killed his dog, he goes mad with anger and has to try and calm himself down by promising himself to make Glau pay with interest later.
    • Given Charity's protectiveness, harming her children pisses her off. Also Harry just being near her is a big issue. Thinking Harry is seducing Molly causes her to immediately punch Harry in the face, and Father Forthill has to physically hold her from further beating on Harry.
    • Harry realizes a bit too late that using Summer Fire on the Winter wellspring is a big one to the entire Winter Court. It is enough to draw back the entire Winter Army currently watching the border of Winter and Summer.
  • Big Bad: Eldest Fetch (a.k.a. “The Scarecrow”) is behind all of the killings and even directly kidnaps Molly. However, the Scarecrow is simply an enforcer for Winter, and whoever actually sent him is left ambiguous. Mab and Maeve are the most likely suspects, both with the assumed goal of distracting the forces of Winter so that Summer could help the White Council. See Gambit Pileup below.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Michael is this to the Warden training camp; his arrival helped save the novice mages and three members of the Senior Council.
  • Bittersweet Ending: On the bitter side, way too many innocent people died as a result of Molly's sorcery at SPLATTERCON!!!, it's completely ambiguous if her friends will ever be able to fully recover from her mental magic given to them, she's been tainted by Black Magic, and both her and Harry and placed under the Doom of Damocles. On the sweet side, Molly becomes Harry's apprentice so that she can learn how to better improve the world around her with her magical talent, the Eldest Fetch is defeated, Harry and Charity finally learn to bury the hatchet, and Molly moves back in with her family to help her with her own maturity.
  • Bookends: Harry asks Molly if she has any doubt he can make her do what he says in both their first and last encounters of the novel.
    • The book starts with Harry attending the execution of a young warlock by the White Council. Near the end, Harry saves Molly from being executed by the White Council in the exact same spot.
    • At the beginning of the book, Ebenezar asks Harry if he wants to go have some lunch; Harry, still holding his old mentor's Broken Pedestal revelation against him, refuses. At the end of the book, Harry's the one giving the invitation in a form of reconciliation, and Ebenezar gladly accepts.
  • Bothering by the Book: Rashid uses this to save Molly's life. During her trial by the White Council, he uses a procedural objection to stall things long enough for the absent members of the Senior Council to arrive and reverse the decision.
  • Call-Back: When discussing giving the debt Lily owes him to Charity because of a wrong he did her, Harry refers back to how banks buy and sell mortgages, which is how Mab described it in Summer Knight.
    • In another Call Back to Summer Knight, Harry dumps ice cold water on Molly when she tries to convince him to have sex with her, just like he dumped it on himself when Maeve did the same.
    • The FBI pitch in on the Splattercon!!! murder investigation, and Harry reminds Murphy that things didn't go so well the last time feds got involved.
  • The Cavalry: Several instances.
    • The Summer Court act as this for the White Council (including several Senior Council members) under attack by Red Court vampires, after Harry distracts the Winter Court forces that were keeping them from aiding.
    • Even after that, however, Michael has to act as the cavalry for the fleeing Senior Council members, who had joined forces with Luccio's Warden trainees, only to come under attack again.
    • And to come full circle, those Senior Council members end up being Harry's cavalry when they arrive at Molly's trial, keeping her from being put to death.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Supernatural entities in general, but particularly the Faery Queens. This doesn't stop them (particularly the Faery Queens) from being misleading, though.
  • Character Focus: Charity Carpenter is given her day in the limelight here, and also goes through a noticeable Defrosting Ice Queen process with Harry over the course of this book.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Lily gives a warning that should she or her power directly assault lawfully acting members of the Winter Court, the retaliation would be immediate and consequences quite grave. This comes to play because this is what Lily wants, so all of Winter's armies will rush at Harry's team and allow Summer's armies to act elsewhere.
    • Michael makes mention of Outsiders trying to stop the retreat of the White Council members he came to protect and save.
    • The Silver Oak Leaves awarded by Titania, with Lily as the presenter, to both Donald Morgan and Harry Dresden. Both are named Squires in the Summer Court and owed one boon for their acts of bravery and fortitude in the book.
    • Fix's initial thought of Winter Lady Maeve's statements will have some bearing in future books.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Thomas mentions Madrigal Raith, his cousin, has been spending time with the fear-feeding House Malvora.
    • Red Court vampire Duchess Arianna, wife of Ortega, was mentioned as one of the bidders for Harry on Ebay.
    • At the climax. Wizard Samuel Peabody is back, dutifully helping keep track of all sorts of data during Molly's trial.
  • The Chessmaster: Lea describes Mab as such, with her habit of being patient and detailed about her plots. It is implied she had the Fetches go after Molly and played restrained about reacting to the Red Court's actions in Dead Beat because she, personally, was waiting for a better time to strike. So, she allowed Maeve to think her wrong, to make her work with Lily in a long plot to get Harry Dresden chasing the Scarecrow Fetch to Arctis Tor with Summer Fire and destroy her Wellspring, giving Summer their chance for vengeance. Harry gets this idea because one of the ice statues in Mab's garden was her in disguise and winked at him.
    • Harry further guesses that someone booked Madrigal Raith to Splattercon specifically so he'd take the fall for the phages' actions. Right on cue, the Eldest Fetch shows up, killing Crane's assistant. We later learn Eldest Fetch is to Mab what the Eldest Gruff is to Titania - a favored enforcer. Furthermore the form the Fetch picked was from Madrigal's own films.
  • Chew Bubblegum: As Harry busts into a theater, trying to get the phobophages inside to attack him, he shouts "And I'm all out of bubblegum!"
  • The Chooser of The One:
    • Harry still has Fidelacchius.
    • However, Michael reveals Harry isn't the first White Council Wizard to hold this spot. Merlin, the Original Merlin, Founder of the White Council, held Amoracchius. Yes, this means Amoracchius is Excalibur.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: This is the simplified way of saying what has befallen Lloyd Slate. Pun included. It's also hideously subverted at the same time — rather than merely torturing Slate's body, Mab is torturing his mind as well by putting him through an endless cycle of pain and comfort.
  • Comes Great Responsibility:
    • Discussed between Harry and Father Forthill when the Parable of Talents comes up. Harry notes Stan Lee says it simpler and quicker with "With great power comes great responsibility." The good Father agrees but feels the Parable is easier to work into a sermon.
    • Molly wants to continue with her magic because of this idea and uses the Parable of Talents as her justification.
    • Charity realizes she averted this trope, to her shame, by burying her magic and never learning to use it for good.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Michael reveals back in Death Masks he just happened to be taking the garbage out when Nicodemus threw the coin of Lasciel at Harry and Michael's son Harry. He saw Harry save his son from the darkness of the coin.
    • Basically a superpower of the Knights of the Cross. Harry invokes it intentionally to try and save Molly's life. It works.
  • Cool Sword: In the book, it is revealed Amoracchius, already a very Cool Sword, once held the name Excalibur in its past.
  • Cowboy Cop: Detective Greene from Chicago Homicide is a staunch believer in the book, both book of the law and the book of normalcy, and generally follows the rules. He treads into the "Cowboy" section by omitting to mention to Molly that, as she is just a suspect in the attack and murder at the convention, she need not answer any question, can request legal counsel at any time, and most importantly, can leave if she chooses to. And he also didn't get permission from her parents, since as a minor she can't legally give consent. He doesn't even record the interrogation, which is supposed to be used to ensure the police don't use underhanded tactics exactly like this.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The fetch in the form of Hammerhands can't climb a ladder because he has hammers for hands.
  • Darker and Edgier: Than Dead Beat. Both novels are pretty dark, to be fair, but this one has a noticeably more uncomfortable and bleaker tone to it, and also tackles darker and less fantastical concerns (i.e., family relations, drug addiction and abuse, and fear) than Dead Beat did. Or, to put it another way, while Dead Beat started out on a lighthearted note with Harry being Mistaken for Gay by one of Thomas' recent lovers, Proven Guilty starts out with a Korean warlock being decapitated by Morgan in a warehouse and Harry throwing up on the floor in revulsion.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: When Harry tells Molly that she will be living with her parents again while he is training her and provides a list of things she will be there.
    Harry:'re going to do everything in your power to be the most respectful, loving, respectful, considerate and respectful daughter in the whole wide world.
  • Deprogram:
    • The Merlin notes that several of the surviving victims of the Warlock they executed at the start of the book, of the two dozen minds he altered, three might eventually regain their sanity.
    • Molly's friends she reprogrammed will endure a long road to some recovery, and may never fully come back to who they were.
  • Destination Defenestration: Not seen, but a threat to Harry from Charity. If he harms Molly while training her, Charity will throw Harry out of his office building window.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Harry did. When he puts Summer Fire into Mab's wellspring, her entire army on the border of Summer and Winter senses it and comes roaring after him with vengeance on its mind.
  • Distracted from Death: Harry's trying to save a girl from a phobophage, but gets carried away attacking it and, by the time Murphy checks on the girl, she's bled to death.
  • Drop the Hammer:
    • The monster Hammerhands.
    • Charity wields a steel one as part of her arsenal in charging Arctis Tor.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side:
    • The young warlock at the start of the book is this, by the Merlin's words. He either personally killed or brainwashed his family to kill each other. Langtry firmly believed the young man he once was is dead and gone.
    • Harry himself worries that he might be this when he neglects checking on civilians so that he can beat up a Xenomorph, and one consequently bleeds to death from her wounds.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Harry is aware of this trope, as well as how horrible his Latin is. So when Molly's trial comes around and he has to make an eloquent defense to keep the warlock from being executed for black magic, he manipulates the situation so that he can present his defense in English.
  • Enemy Mine: Turns out Maeve and Lily were working together to manipulate Harry into storming Arctis Tor
  • Everybody Knew Already: Turns out that Harry's been living in fear of Michael finding out about Lasciel's Shadow for no reason — he already knew.
  • Exact Words:
    • Dealing with Fae for part of the book, Harry knows this is part of the whole deal. Such as asking Lily to start at the "beginning" she asks for clarification on whose beginning.
    • However, Harry was able to pull this back on Maeve. In exchange for coming to a meeting, she wanted to know when Harry last felt "flesh, strange and new to your hand, lay quivering beneath" him? When was the last time he "could taste some little lovelies' cries?" Harry notes that would be when he killed Aurora. And her body, sliced by cold iron, lay beneath him as she died surprised and confused.
    • Later in the book, when Harry uses some Loophole Abuse to get around Titania's conscription on Lily and Fix, Fix notes that Queen Titania's exact words didn't cover what Harry did. She may be angry but won't act on it. Later, Lily freely talks about her plan because the events had already past and the conscription only held to current or future events.
  • Excalibur in the Stone:
    • When discussing the lack of people Harry's instincts tell him would be a proper wielder of Fidelacchius, he offers to Michael to put it in a stone and then set it in the White House lawn. Michael crosses himself and mutters, "God forbid."
    • Michael also notes that it's possible that Amoracchius was once called Excalibur.
  • False Innocence Trick: As much as one can call Leanansidhe "innocent" the imprisoned person plays the part of a person in need, knowing Harry would likely help the person be free. If not for Lea fighting from the inside and warning Harry off, Harry would have.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Harry's godmother Leanansidhe has two distinct personalities, one seeming to be her normal, psycho self, but another is a quieter, more determined voice. The former wants to be free, the latter tells Harry to not release her.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Mouse growls at Molly like he did against another warlock. He stops when Harry tells him so.
    • At the convention Molly is working at the printer has been acting up quite a bit as of late. And it isn't just when Harry's around.
    • During Molly's trial near the end of the book, Harry's narration notes how Wizard Peabody can be heard busily scribbling away through all of the Merlin's particularly dickish Kick the Dog moments.
  • Flowers of Nature: This serves to contrast the Summer Lady, who embodies summer, life and the growing seasons, and the Winter Lady, who embodies just the opposite. The Summer Lady turns wooden flowers into real ones when she walks by them, while the Winter Lady passes by after her and blights and kills them.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Charity states she was a bit of a rebel from her upper-crust family in her youth, and was even a practitioner in her younger days —- a weak one, but she did get in with a bad crowd and it nearly led her to be eaten by a dragon. She walked away from that life after Michael saved her.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Though not yelled, when Michael sees Molly for the first time in several weeks and finds her hair pink and that she has visible tattoos and piercings, he says in a hushed voice, "Margaret Katherine Amanda Carpenter."
  • Gambit Pileup: The plot is initially presented as a straightforward investigation by Harry into attacks by the phages against the horror movie convention, but it rapidly becomes much more complex when Thomas starts acting secretive and tailing Harry around town, then the Sidhe Ladies start plucking strings, and it gets even muddier when Madrigal Raith gets involved, planning to sell Harry on Ebay for profit. By the end of the book, it looks like Lily has manipulated Harry into going into Arctis Tor, while Maeve first also manipulated Harry into Arctis Tor and then slowed down time in the region to trap the armies of Winter so Summer could be free to come to the White Council's defense, and it is hinted that the entire thing might have been arranged by Mab. Then at the trial at the very end of the book it appears the entire bloody thing either was planned by, or at least was understood by, the Gatekeeper. And to top it all off, at the very, very end of the trial, Michael shows up, having saved Luccio, Ebenazar, and the rest of the Senior Council, alongside the Summer Court intervening in a battle between the Council and the Red Court, saving the day, which may mean that ''everything was planned by God.'' And the Black Council was apparently involved at one level or another, somewhere, and the Denarians make a small cameo somewhere in this screwball of a mess. Just as planned.
  • Generation Xerox: Harry sees the parallels between the situation he faces in this book and Michael's rescuing of Charity and defied it. In their youths, both Charity and Molly are practicing mages. Both end up in a bad situation, with Charity nearly being sacrificed and Molly violating the laws of magic. Both are saved from their dark fates of death by Michael and Harry, respectively. And both Charity and Molly fell for the man who rescues them. Unlike Michael, Harry refuses Molly's advances. This is because, while Molly may be a Generation Xerox of her mother, Harry does not see himself as being one for Michael.
  • Groin Attack: Harry makes up for his lack of real skill with a sword by stabbing an ogre "in the danglies." The rest of the enemies wisely back off at the prospect of getting a sword in their privates.
  • Hellfire
    • Harry still uses it.
    • Hellfire was also used in a major assault against Arctis Tor.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Molly, full stop, for Harry. It is because she worshiped him so much she kept her magic a secret from everyone, save her mother. As Harry puts it, if he was a rock star, she wouldn't want to show her skills by just being able to play the scales and nothing else. She wanted to do something grand.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • Molly's justification for Mind Raping her friends and bending their wills to her demands, in order to get them off drugs and protect them from another miscarriage or worse.
    • Harry says this is his final position on killing two people in cold blood in Dead Beat. He had never done it before and it bothered him still. But he would still make the same choice again if he could go back.
  • Infectious Insanity: Maeve, from her view point as a Fae, considers mortal notions such as "Good," "Evil," and "Love" as a type of insanity and in hindsight believes Aurora was suffering from some mortal madness. And she claims it has been passed into Mab.
  • In Mysterious Ways: Harry and Father Forthill have a discussion about faith and God's plan in regards to Molly's kidnapping and Michael's unavailability (he's away on a job). Weaponized by Harry who realizes that maybe God wanted Michael away so that he can be in the right place to save his daughter.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Ms. Lydia Stern for the Midwestern Arcane, who replaced Susan as lead reporter.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: Harry calls Murphy a "savvy cop chick". Murphy objects, and Harry amends it to "police chick," which she accepts.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The Merlin is presented as a Jerkass who seems cold and uncaring about the fate of the young man executed at the beginning of the novel. However, as he notes, the boy had already murdered and Mind Raped several people, including his own family, and there was nothing left of him to save. While the kid is certainly a Tragic Villain, Langtry (who's been dealing with this kind of thing for a few hundred years) isn't wrong that there was nothing else they could have done.
  • Lady of War: Charity Carpenter reveals herself to be one. She has been Michael's training partner for the past 20 years and is skilled in various forms of fighting.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Entering the locked-up movie theater, Harry remarks on what scene of the movie he's playing out, and even taunts the fetches by saying he'll have to try walking backwards through a door or something if they don't attack him soon.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Some phobophages take the shape of horror movie monsters to inspire fear. Harry ends up fighting several that are clearly based on specific characters, but with a single detail changed.
    • The first one to appear is Hammerhands, a man who has sledgehammers at the ends of his arms instead of hands, has a premise rather similar to Edward Scissorhands (though the latter wasn't a horror movie). Also possibly a reference to Freddy Kruger, who wore a glove with blades on the fingers, and took his revenge on the people who'd killed him by killing their children (much as Hammerhands targeted the people who'd left him for dead).
    • Another is the Reaper, a masked villain who attacks people with a sickle, a la Friday the 13th's Jason, who wears a hockey mask and attacks people with a machete.
    • The most blatant example is an unnamed creature that's given very little description except that it's simultaneously feline and insect-like. It would have been harder to figure out what that meant if Harry didn't spend the entire time he fought it quoting Aliens.
    • The Scarecrow, a regenerating plant-creature with Combat Tentacles in the form of vines for limbs and a pumpkin for a head, may be a reference to Pumpkinhead... though that movie's monster didn't actually have a pumpkin for a head.
    • Combined with a Take That! when Harry one-shots Bucky the Murder Doll (an obvious reference to Chucky, the evil living doll of Child's Play fame) without even using magic, and then points out that he could never understand how anybody found it scary.
  • Left Hanging: Harry never does figure out who ran the Beetle off the road, at least not in this book. Cold Days all but states that it was the doing of Ace from Summer Knight.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Harry attributes Molly's infatuation with him to this.
  • Loophole Abuse: Harry, rather wisely for him, gets around the conscription binding Lily and Fix from helping him by passing the debt they owe him to Charity, and having her call in the debt. So long as Harry is a third party helping Charity in her quest and not the person directly asking for help, Lily and Fix are free to help them.
  • Loved I Not Honor More: As Michael is about to leave on a mission from the Home Office, his daughter returns for the first time in months. It is obvious he would love to be with her, to try and mend the rift between Charity and Molly, but he cannot forsake this mission and so asks Harry to help as he can in this matter in his stead.
  • Mama Bear: Charity Carpenter more than fits this trope. She storms the gates of the Winter Faerie Capital itself to get her daughter back.
  • Mercy Kill: The Merlin believes, on some level, killing Warlocks is this, as the good person they once were was gone and could not come back after being twisted by their use of Evil Magic. There is nothing left but a monster in human guise.
  • Mission from God:
    • Michael goes on one just as Harry brings back Molly at the start of the book. It is to save the White Council trainees, Luccio, and three Senior Council members from a Red Court attack. Harry suspects the primary consequence of this mission was to give Molly a chance to live through her trial.
    • Michael postulates Harry is on a mission as well. Michael's actions just as equally saved Harry from coming to blows with the Merlin. And as being a parent causes all kinds of Character Development in a person, perhaps God is hoping Harry will develop into a stronger, wiser, more capable person by being a teacher and mentor to Molly.
  • Mood-Swinger: While what has befallen the Leanansidhe will remain a mystery for a few more books, it is clear something is not right when she goes from saying she is happy to be imprisoned by Mab to demanding Harry release her.
  • My God, What Have I Done?
    • There is the (in)famous instance where Harry fights a xenomorph, including quoting from the movie with "Get away from her, you bitch!" as he proceeds to roast and smash the beast repeatedly until it is turned into chunky salsa. Moments later, however, he learns the "her" he was rescuing has bled out and died, and he is left to wonder if he wasted the chance to save her because he was indulging in blasting the monster repeatedly instead, and in turn whether that enjoyment had something to do with Lasciel's shadow's influence on him.
    • Charity has a small one when her daughter uses the Parable of the Talents against her as to why she should keep her magic, because she could do so much good with her power. Harry suspects Charity, who was a practitioner but gave up her magic, realizes she is the third servant who just buried his Talents and did nothing with it, giving up her own chance to do good in the world with magic and instead choosing to hide it from everyone, including Michael and Molly, and let it fade away.
  • The Nicknamer: Harry being this is no surprise, but in this book Molly takes a turn also, calling her littlest sister, Hope, "Hobbit". Her other sister, Alicia, objects to Molly's pet name for her ("Leech").
  • Not Me This Time: Madrigal Raith is not the one who summoned the phobopages or caused the trouble at the convention. He was set up to take the fall, though.
  • Not So Different:
    • Near the start of the book, when Harry is talking about the White Council's dispensing justice on a Warlock, and just how far this young man went and how incapable the police currently are of detaining such a person, Murphy is shocked and angered. After a minute, she wonders if this is how civilians see her and police when the police must act in the best course but the civilians lack all the information the police have.
    • Harry realizes Molly's infatuation is based in part in how similar their relationship is to Molly's parents. Michael/Harry saved Charity/Molly from an evil group the lady got herself entangled with while not fully understanding the risks of their choices.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Harry does try to explain away a teenage Molly walking out of his hotel room's shower in nothing but a Modesty Towel, but Charity never gave him the chance and slugs him. It doesn't help that Molly probably wanted it to be exactly what it looked like.
  • The Oath-Breaker: Harry sees what befalls the traitorous Winter Knight Lloyd Slate for breaking his oath to the Winter Queens, and all of Winter. He is frozen, tortured to the point of near death, removed, healed and tended to by Mab, only to be put back in once he is well. Rinse and repeat.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct: Titania still has issues with Harry after the events of Summer Knight. So she creates a code of conduct and places it upon Lily and Fix, preventing them from speaking of matters that could help Harry out.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Harry makes Homicide Detective Greene and FBI Agent Rick each suffer one upon telling them that Molly, who they are interrogating without Mirandizing, is also a juvenile so she cannot give consent to being spoken to anyway. Though Rick gives a little of it back to Harry when he suggests that he frisk Harry, who happened to be illegally concealing a handgun at the moment.
    • Harry has one when he throws a huge blast of Hellfire at Eldest Fetch... and the old phobophage walks through it like it's nothing.
    • Harry also makes Maeve suffer one by revealing he was the one to kill her handmaid Jenny when Maeve sent Jenny to Billy and Georgia's wedding to destroy them. Because they were his people when they killed one of Maeve's favorite minions, he's the one who should be targeted. Since it was Harry's friends, it upsets him greatly.
    • Charity suffers from one learning Molly has violated one of the Laws of Magic and would likely die, and that's only assuming she is rescued from Mab's personal spies and assassins, who have kidnapped Molly.
    • Harry, Lily, and Fix get one when they're told by Maeve that Mab is insane like Aurora was.
    • Harry learns that every Fae in Winter is coming to kill him. Personally.
      Harry: Crap.
    • Harry has another one later on, when he realizes that his outmaneuvering of the Merlin in trying to save Molly's life has actually resulted in forcing the Merlin to have her killed, both because the Council can't have one of its regional commanders kept busy with an apprentice during a war, and to show that he still has more power than one young upstart wizard/warden.
    • Harry's final one of the book is when Michael grimly warns him that he will also "be there for him" (to give him a Mercy Kill) if Harry were to ever fall to the Denarians.
    • Played for Laughs when Molly starts to panic over Harry bringing her back to her family home and moving back in with her parents so that she can take levels in maturity.
  • One Phone Call: Molly claims she can't call her folks because she used her one phone call to ask Harry to come bail her out. Harry points out that it doesn't actually work that way.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • The White Council is genuinely unnerved by the fact the Red Court attacked both Summer and Winter domains and neither side is reacting with movements to destroy the Red Court for this massive smack to the face.
    • Morgan is clearly off his A-game during Molly's trial. Not only is he visibly uncomfortable during the whole thing, but when Harry desperately stands in front of him and begs Morgan to reconsider, Morgan, who has been firmly established to hate Harry, wearily responds with politeness - "Dresden, stand aside, please." And shortly after, he quietly notes to the Merlin that Harry's right, the Gatekeeper deserves to have his vote heard on Molly's trial (helping stall for time until Harry's support on the Senior Council is able to arrive). Suffice to say, no one can blame Morgan at all for getting incredibly drunk at the White Council HQ's bar afterwards.
  • Orphean Rescue: When Molly Carpenter was abducted, Harry, Charity Carpenter, Karrin, Thomas, and later Summer Knight Fix work together to free her from Arctis Tor.
  • Power-Up: Harry realizes that the fiery butterfly Lily gave him and his companions as a guide to Mab's home, was a subtle way of giving Harry this. Drawing the butterfly into his staff, his fires become blessed by Summer Fire, which gives him a bigger boost against the Winter phobophages.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: When faced with the strongest enemy in the book and Harry receiving a nice power-up, he looks upon his foe and says a nice little Shout-Out.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Near the beginning of the book, Harry decides to purify his mind and body before performing some risky magic. He goes into detail about the ritual preparation he goes through, washing, lighting candles, meditating, the whole nine yards. Finally, after four hours of this, he's ready.
    • Michael, being a very reverent man, does not like taking the Lord's Name in vain. So when he sees his eldest daughter with pink hair, piercings, and visible tattoos, he says "God's blood."
    • A more serious one during Molly's trial. Harry's narration specifies that he's taking "that fucking hood" off the head of the accused, emphasizing how unjust he sees the whole process.
    • Similarly, when Michael grimly tells Harry that the only way to make sure that he never becomes a potential threat as a Denarian is to put down his magic, Harry growls "Fuck that" in response since he has too many responsibilities to keep that he can only fulfill by staying a wizard.
  • Pride: Charity suffers this vice. Because her past experiences with magic led to her being threatened by a Warden and nearly killed by an evil dragon, she considers magic nothing but trouble and refuses to accept that Molly could do something good with it. Her pride and stern belief drove her to push Molly to give it up, which made the equally prideful Molly refuse and try to prove her mother wrong by helping people, but only ended up harming two people. It takes Molly citing the Parable of the Talents to make her mother see just how bad she is acting.
  • Rage Against The Director: When the Big Bad fetch attacks at the Full Moon Garage, it takes the form of the Scarecrow, a Pumpkinhead-Expy from director Darby Crane's horror films. One of the targets it attacks is Crane himself aka Madrigal Raith, and it scares the living crap out of him.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • One of the con-goers bleeds to death when Harry gets distracted by beating up a phobophage instead of providing proper First Aid.
    • Daniel Carpenter is able to escape from the Hammerhand phobophage... by hiding in the Carpenters' old tree house and pulling the rope ladder up behind him. After all, Hammerhand doesn't have any actual hands.
    • Dead Beat was the first time that Harry consciously decided to end two peoples' lives - the Corpsetaker and Quintus Cassius - with all other times Harry had killed someone prior to this point being in self-defense (more or less). While both deaths were treated as awesome and satisfying in the moment, this book shows that Harry is understandably horrified and sickened with himself over having ended the lives of two people. Granted, as both were Asshole Victims, he's not as upset about it as he would be if he had killed two innocent people, but as in Real Life, he's still guilt-ridden over it to the point of having nightmares. Since most people nowadays are taught to have at least some general respect for the sanctity of life, Harry's PTSD is perfectly understandable.
  • Rebuilt Pedestal: Harry finally rekindles his relationship with Ebenazar.
  • Red Herring: Harry realizes Madrigal Raith was set up to be this with the fetches, to make it look like he might have called them to feast upon the fear they spread.
  • The Reveal: Charity was a former practitioner, and has known for some time her daughter is now one.
  • Rewatch Bonus: In hindsight, whenever the Leanansidhe is described as speaking with "a mad gleam" in her eyes during her talk with Harry at Arctis Tor, it's not her actually speaking - it's Nemesis speaking through her.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Who, precisely, are the other beings trapped in Mab's garden/prison? Harry never finds out, and Butcher has no plans to explain them further in future books.note 
  • Sand In My Eyes: Dresden, during the scene where he talks to Michael about the two people he had to kill to stop the events from last Halloween.
    Stupid damned streetlights, getting all blurry like that.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Madrigal Raith runs off while the Scarecrow-fetch is attacking Thomas and Harry.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Harry finds his godmother Leanansidhe trapped in a frozen fountain by Mab's power. While Lea was no angel before, it is clear when Lea mood swings and changes voices urging Harry to leave her, Mab had a very good reason for holding her in a prison.
  • Secret Keeper: Harry keeps the fact that Charity is a retired practitioner a secret.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Michael reveals at the end of the book that he has known since the end of Death Masks that Harry took the coin of Lasciel to save his youngest.
  • Signature Scent: Harry realizes Hellfire was used in Mab's home by the scent left behind.
  • Sign of the Apocalypse:
    I started to get annoyed, but was struck by the disturbing thought that if I did, I would be coming down on the same side of the situation as Charity, which might be one of the signs of the apocalypse.
  • Skilled, but Naïve:
    • This is Harry's assessment of Lily, the Summer Queen. Based on what Meryl told him back in Summer Knight, Lily isn't the wisest of people. That said, she has become well adapted to her power.
    • Molly also fits as she saw noting wrong with imposing her will over her two friends, not considering the true morality of her action and any potential consequences of it.
  • So Proud of You: Ebenezer to Harry for moving to protect Molly and all his other actions in the book.
  • Squick: invoked Lampshaded In-Universe. Harry and Murphy have a little moment of this when they discuss the fact Murphy's second ex-husband, FBI Agent Rick, is now married to and sleeping with Murphy's youngest sister.
  • Stealth Pun: Charity Carpenter fights with a giant hammer.
  • Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: Rawlins "conveniently overlooks" Harry snooping around a crime scene. Later, when Harry needs to illegally pick a lock, he tells Murphy to "look at that zeppelin", and she grudgingly turns her back so he can get on with it.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: While not as physically domineering as most in this case, Harry does summon reporter Lydia Stern to listen in and act when Harry gets Det. Greene and FBI Agent Rick to admit to some less than kosher interrogation practices to the minor Molly Carpenter.
  • Take That!: Several of the forms the fetches take are snarked at by Harry.
    Thomas: That was Bucky the Murder Doll.
    Harry: Kind of a wimp.
    Thomas: Must have been the runt of the litter.
    Harry: Personally, I never understood how anyone could have found that thing frightening to begin with.
    • Notably, this is actually used as a plot point... since none of the people in the group were particularly scared of Bucky, that's why it was such a wimp.
  • Temporal Paradox: Messing with the currents of time can cause this, so it is one reason the Senior Council has a law against it. Rashid gets around this by giving tiny hints to nudge things in a different direction. As Bob explains, if a car was going to be stolen, Rashid could not tell the owner to move to protect it via a message from the future or this will cause a paradox. He can however suggest that it is moved from the street to a garage. It will still be stolen but in the former case the car owner is shot and killed by a street druggie, while in the latter they're carjacked by a professional who knows how to get the car without anyone getting hurt.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Murphy faces this dilemma once again. On the morning of her needing to take over the SplatterCon attack case, due to other men being taken out in the previous attack, Murphy agrees to help Harry rescue Molly, knowing it could end poorly with her if she is gone too long. So she picks Good, and loses out professionally because the Law doesn't recognize magic or jaunts into Fairyland on rescue missions as reasonable excuses for leaving her post unannounced.
  • Took a Level in Badass: While not entirely there, Lily and Fix have both grown as the Summer Lady and Summer Knight. Best shown when they were interacting with Maeve, who gloats that she used to torture and humiliate them only to get shot down and dismissed by them both.
  • True Companions:
    • Harry realizes Karrin and Thomas are this for him when they agree to come with him to attack Mab's home to save the life of Molly Carpenter.
    • By the end of the book, with Charity's animosity gone, and she and Harry working together to save Molly, Charity and Harry are now this.
    • Michael shows he is one to Harry by still loving and trusting the man despite him having the shadow of a Fallen within him. As Michael said, he has faith. Faith in the Almighty and faith in Harry.
  • UST: Harry and Murphy finally acknowledge the massive amount of it between them, though Murphy declines because she knows Harry doesn't do casual relationships.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Lily is willing to sacrifice Harry and his friends in their rescue attempt of Molly, all to hope Harry would use Summer Fire on Mab's Wellspring, pissing off every Winter Fae and luring them away from Summer's borders.
    • When Harry cites the evil in Molly's choice to bind her friends' will and alter their minds, she repeatedly tries to claim she did nothing wrong. It takes a few tries for the depth of what "nothing wrong" really meant, and how wrong she really went, to get through to her.
  • We Need a Distraction: Lily wants to send help to the White Council and pay the Red Court back for its insult in the previous book. But with Mab keeping her forces on the border between the Faerie Courts, neither Lily nor Titania dare make a move to remove even one soldier. So, Lily plans to get Harry to be a distraction and draw the attention of the Winter army.
  • Wham Line: When they're in the church together, Harry asks Charity "How long has it been since you've used your magic?"
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Two examples of untrained practitioners whose minds are tainted and warped by Dark Magic. The Korean boy in the start of the book and Molly Carpenter, who must fight against those urges from now on.
  • Worth It: Murphy considers going with Harry to help save Molly to have been worth any professional repercussions she will face because of vanishing for an entire day.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: One of the best examples in all of the Dresden novels: Harry confronts a murderous vampire, warning the guy to back off or Harry will expose his work. The vampire laughs as he assumes that he and Harry are bound by "rules" to protect this grand Masquerade and Harry would never dare reveal the existence of magic to humans. He's more than a bit deflated when Harry points out he's listed in the phone book under "Wizards."
  • You Shall Not Pass!:
    • Murphy and Thomas hold the line at the entrance to the tower when Charity and Harry race up it to rescue Molly.
    • Later, Harry and Thomas hold the line as Murphy and Charity help Molly to escape from the NeverNever.


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