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Literature / Red Room

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There are no good guys in the world of shadows...but maybe some bad men are better than others.
The Red Room is an Urban Fantasy series by C.T. Phipps and published by Crossroad Press. It is part of the The United States of Monsters universe.

The series follows Derek Hawthorne, a Man In Black member of an Ancient Conspiracy known as the House which is devoted to upholding The Masquerade. Thinking about retirement, but never quite getting there, Derek is joined by his succubus partner, Shannon O'Reilly, as they work against Eso-Terrorists or supernaturals who are attempting to reveal the supernatural to the public. Gray-and-Gray Morality abounds as the two sides are both shown to have legitimate points.

The books were originally a standalone series but have since been Retcon-ed as a tie-in to the The United States of Monsters. This means the series that originally took place in 2015 were retconned as taking place in 2006, two years before the Broken Masquerade in 2008.

Books in the series:

  • Esoterrorism (2015)
  • Eldritch Ops (2017)
  • The Fall of the House (2020)

Not to be confused with the ghost story of the same title by H. G. Wells.

The series contains the following tropes:

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     The Series 
  • Action Girl:
    • Shannon O'Henry is a Lilin agent for the Red Room who has training in firearms and who can tear through regular people like wet tissue paper in her "monster" form.
    • Penny Hawthorne is a Black Magician Girl who is capable of hurling lightning, fireballs, and telekinetic force with her mind. She is also a trained field agent for the Red Room and only slightly less respected than Derek in the field.
    • Cassandra is revealed to be a trained agent with skill in martial arts, pistols, and black magic.
  • Agents Dating: Derek Hawthorne and Shannon O'Reilly have an immediate attraction which later leads to them becoming sexually involved. Complicated by the fact Shannon was ordered to seduce him, which Derek knows, and that agents are expected to marry in order to continue the Conspiracy—which neither member wants to involve any offspring in.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's never confirmed whether or not Stephen willingly got himself possessed or if it was an accident. Derek is certain that he did it on purpose, but everyone else involved in the case disagrees with him, and Stephen himself takes the answer to the grave.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The House has existed, ostensibly, since the time of ancient Babylon. Word of God says this is bullshit but fits their purposes to claim.
  • Ancient Tradition: While the House is an Ancient Conspiracy, the Red Room is more like this, protecting the world from the supernatural as well as covering up its existence.
  • Arc Welding: Is made part of the United States of Monsters series, retconning the series to taking place in 2006 just before the Broken Masquerade.
  • Asian Fox Spirit: Mentioned in passing as being real.
  • Badass Abnormal: Talbot, Shannon, and the Wazir all qualify as this.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: All of the Red Room agents tend to be this.
  • Badass Normal: It's stated, more or less, regular humans have no chance against supernaturals in a straight fight and only win by using superior numbers and tactics. Derek, repeatedly, subverts this and has survived missions he by all rights shouldn't have. Derek becomes a Badass Abnormal by the end, awakening his long dormant magical powers.
  • Battle Couple: Derek and Shannon by the end. Derek's parents were implied to be this during World War 2.
  • Broken Masquerade: The goal of groups like the Emerald Eye.
    • It is achieved at the climax of The Fall of the House when the world becomes the United States of Monsters.
  • Cloak and Dagger: One of the better examples in urban fantasy.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Nathan Hawthorne is repeatedly said to closely resemble Robert Redford in his prime, with Derek even positing that he used his magic to deliberately change his appearance.
  • Cowboy Cop: Derek is considered to be the spy version of this, being senior enough and well-connected enough to get away with it, much to the consternation of his boss. It's implied Derek actually accomplishes a lot of his missions due to this and Refuge in Audacity. It provides him just enough of an edge in sheer confusion that he gets the drop on his foes. Indeed, it's very likely that his superiors have mistaken him for a Cowboy Cop when he's closer to being a Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: The Red Room performs these duties as part of their activities.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Shannon's Lilin form. Subverted by the fact this is when she can tear you limb from limb.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone in the book qualifies as this.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Derek's status as a Pop-Cultured Badass is torn to shreds over the three books. What originally seems like a funny or quirky trait is gradually revealed to a result of his miserable childhood, as with his mother leaving him and his father being distant, he basically raised himself on cartoons and comic books. In particular, his obsession with The Lord of the Rings comes from his love of the books' Black-and-White Morality, as it comforts him from the various shades of grey that his life becomes.
  • Fantastic Noir: This is a spy story about a morally ambiguous conspiracy that keeps the world ignorant of the supernatural. Its protagonist is an assassin that is aware the organization may do more evil than good. It also ends with the hero dead and most of the cast.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Red Room suffers a good deal of this to monsters. Subverted in the fact many of them really are that dangerous. Nonhumans, simultaneously, tend to think little of humans.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Implied to be the case with the Astral Plane generating ideas which can physically enter the world. Rakshasas, magic, Celtic fairies, mummies, ogres, kappas, kelpies, yetis, Hollow Earth, a still living Elvis Presley, dragons, trolls, Oni, unicorns, ghosts, demons, elves, vampires, Draugr, homunculi, succubi, angels, Frankenstein's Monster, Aladdin's flying carpet, kitsune, Grey aliens, the Loch Ness Monster, Odin, and a few other things have been either seen or mentioned in passing as being real.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: Talbot is the inspiration for the Creature according to Derek. Notable for the fact, he seems to be a fairly charming fellow and his scars wouldn't be that big of a problem in many places.
  • Goth Girls Know Magic: Penny is a thirty-two-year-old Goth girl who is also an amazingly powerful sorceress.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Red Room functions as a spy agency on supernatural beings. It's also the intelligence arm of the House.
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: Both the Emerald Eye, House, and other factions all have valid points. Sometimes verges on Black-and-Gray Morality with some of the more extreme examples.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Subverted in that both Penny and Derek are human despite having a dragon for a mother. Their mother had to assume a fully human form in order to mate with a human and have kids. It still leaves them subject to Fantastic Racism.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Discussed repeatedly by Derek. He never stops dwelling on his role in the Red Room as a Senior Agent and killer.
  • The Illuminati:
    • Derek lampshades this in Esoterrorism, saying the House more or less embodies every single conspiracy nut's fears about this except reptile men.
    • The cover for Esoterrorism is a visual homage given the pyramid in the background and Word of God has confirmed the House is the in-universe inspiration for the organization.
  • Klingon Promotion: How you join the Committee since all of them are immortal wizards. The only way to prove you're worthy to become one of the smartest, most powerful men in the world is to make room.
  • Magitek: Namedropped in the book. The wizards of the House (called "The White Room") use science to maximize the potential of their spells and create all manner of fun gadgets and devices.
  • The Masquerade: What the Red Room exists to preserve.
  • Megacorp: Pantheon Corporation is the world's biggest supplier of everything. Justified as it's a front for the House and misuses their ties to become more powerful as well as widespread.
  • The Men in Black: While they don't use this description for themselves, the agents of the Red Room serve this function. Subverted in the fact, despite their job, they're pretty much normal people with the same emotions and attitudes as anyone else. Lampshaded in-universe when they mention it would undermine their ability to do their job covering up supernatural events if they wore such a conspicuous outfit.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Committee is composed of twelve wizards who rule over the House from all over the world. Derek joins them at the end of Esoterrorism.
  • Out with a Bang: Lilin are capable of killing this way and when they lose control, DO kill this way.
  • Perky Goth: Penny and Lucy both qualify for this. May also qualify as Author Appeal given they work for a spy agency.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Derek Hawthorne is a fan of Bruce Lee, the Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, James Bond films (enough to know details about individual films), several video games, Star Wars, and horror movies. Justified as it's mentioned Derek, despite the fact he's a super-cool spy, was more or less raised at home by the television.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Professor seems to be one of the few individuals who actually gives a shit about doing their job of protecting mankind and finding real-traitors versus going with the easy answers
  • Shout-Out:
    • The name of the series is an homage to both the Red Room of Marvel comics which trained the Black Widow and the room Cooper visits in Twin Peaks according to Word of God.
    • There are more than enough shout-outs to everything to warrant its own page. Just see the Pop-Cultured Badass entry.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Every other line between Shannon and Derek is them throwing a zinger at each other.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To The Laundry Files. Whereas the Laundry is about nerdy but damaged civil servants facing the Apocalypse, the Red Room is about glamorous superspies fighting a more conventional War on Terror.
  • Spy Catsuit: Subverted as Shannon mentions wearing one only in jest. She considers skintight leather the last thing a person who wants to remain inconspicuous should wear.
  • Spy Fiction: Stale Beer Served in a Martini Glass flavored variety. Derek and Shannon are witty, glamourous, beautiful, uber-talented super-spies who fight monsters. They're also deeply damaged people who question the value as well as morality of their actions on a constant basis.
  • Spy Speak: Subverted by the existence of the Rings of Veritas. It allows agents of the Red Room to speak freely without worrying about listeners.
  • Succubi and Incubi: Lilin feed by sex or sexual energy. They can kill you this way, so it's in the best interests of mortals not to get too close. Shannon has learned to control it and can only take a little at a time.
  • Trenchcoat Brigade: Derek is a schemer, Guile Hero, and trickster who wears a Trenchcoat. He also is a minor magician at the end of Esoterrorism.
  • Urban Fantasy: Advertised as James Bond meets the Dresden Files.
  • We Have Reserves: A horrifying figure brought up in the book is that roughly one-third of all field agents are expected to be killed over the course of their duties. This becomes Fridge Horror when you realize the majority of these agents are family-members to the other House members around them. It gets worse when you notice how muted everyone's reaction to this. Which, of course, is because they've been raised to view it as normal.
  • Witty Banter: Shannon and Derek engage in a lot of this.
  • World of Snark: Derek, Shannon, Penny, Lucy, and even the villains get quips in.

  • Affably Evil: The Wazir is a kindly old grandfather type, who will kill entire cities if it means the Truth comes out.
  • Archenemy: The Wazir serves as this to the Red Room as of Esoterrorism. He's killed at the end of the book.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: After learning of just why Cassandra turned against the Red Room, Derek can only bring himself to pity her and hope that wherever she ended up after her death, she is finally able to rest her soul in a way she simply couldn't in life.
    • Psycho Killers in Love answers this question as does The Fall of the House to a lesser extent as it's revealed Cassandra was always a sociopathic nutcase.
  • The Archmage: The Wazir is one of these. The Committee is also implied to be composed of these. Subverted by Derek, who is a beginner at best, at the end of Esoterrorism.
  • Arranged Marriage: Derek and Cassandra had one of these. It is the catalyst for the plot.
  • Batman Gambit: As part of Derek's plan to essentially take over the Committee, Derek predicts which one of them is most likely to cause the strongest fuss and picks Yuri, an ancient wizard who once killed his own child to protect himself. Derek thus arms himself with the way to kill him before the meeting and kills him during his ruckus, giving him the Committee's attention.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The Wazir and Cassandra.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Derek tries a number of these throughout the book. The one to infiltrate Pantheon Corp is Epic Fail. The one to find the infiltrator, though, is a Funny Moment.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Cassandra turns out to have been this during her marriage to Derek. He's appropriately horrified.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Wazir doesn't hesitate to kill his allies whenever it suits him, killing Dr. Strickland when Derek asks him to and attacking Cassandra's base to wipe out her forces.
  • The Conspiracy: Cassandra is working with the Wazir to provide him with the Matheson virus in order to cause a Zombie Apocalypse that will shatter The Masquerade. This will destroy the House and result in Pantheon Corp becoming one of the most powerful organizations in the world. It will also get her revenge on the group that she blames for her Mind Rape.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Cassandra Cassidy of Pantheon Corp is believed to be this. They're right.
  • Duel of Seduction: Shannon and Derek try this on one another to see if they can get an edge on each other. They fall in love instead.
  • The Dragon: Tommy Moretti is this to Cassandra. He works for her as a way of getting back at Derek.
  • Elvis Lives: Derek is shown a picture of his Uncle Talbot and Elvis Presley sitting next to a Gray alien. Derek remarks that he didn't know his uncle met Elvis.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Doctor Strickland's motivation is getting revenge on the House for their assassination of his daughter.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Discussed and downplayed. When Derek and Shannon learn that Cassandra was mentally forced into her marriage with him and that's why she went so insane, Shannon says that it doesn't excuse the fact that she's directly responsible for thousands of deaths while Derek can't help but sympathize with her and hope she found peace after her death.
  • The Greys: Derek is shown a picture of his Uncle Talbot and Elvis Presley sitting next to a Gray alien. Derek remarks that he didn't know his uncle met Elvis.
  • Hidden Depths: Shannon turns out to have a hobby studying occult history, leading to her fact-checking a lot of Talbot's claims about his various exploits when they meet.
  • Mle Trois: The final battle consists of The Wazir's forces attacking Cassandra's forces while Derek's crew flies in to take them both out.
  • Mind Rape: How Cassandra justifies her plan to destroy the House. They subjected her to this to guarantee an advantageous Arranged Marriage.
  • The Mole: Derek is accused of being this. It's actually Doctor Strickland, Tommy Moretti, and Cassandra.
  • Norse Mythology: Odin shows up or at least his eye does.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Derek takes a moment to assure the reader that some of the ridiculous things he's saying are actually true. For instance, the Easter Bunny's name is Harvey and he's the King of the Pooka.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Talbot's plan to sneak past Cassandra's defenses? Sneak a team into their base with a flying carpet.
  • Retirony: Derek is thinking of retiring when he's framed for treason.
  • The Rival: Tommy Moretti believes Derek to be this. Derek thinks of him as more of an annoyance.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Derek gets away with a lot more than he should due to the fact he's the son of a Committee member. He despises this fact since he long ago broke ties with his father but it's still there. It's also implied Derek gets away with as much as he does because he's well-liked and really-really good at his job. It ends up with him promoted to the Committee.
  • Stock Ness Monster: The Trope Namer is mentioned in passing in the prologue as being real.
  • That's What I Would Do: Subverted; when Derek and Shannon realize a traitor in the House went to great lengths to backstab his own attack squad of mercs, Derek responds to the plan by saying it's what he would do. When Shannon gives him a weird look, he reveals that he was just trying to sound cool and that he just wouldn't have come in to work that day.
  • This Is Reality: A Dramatic Irony example as Derek keeps insisting this is next to his glamorous Femme Fatale partner in epic gunfights and shoot-outs. He seems to be more in denial than anything else.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Wazir believes the Truth should be let out because it forces supernaturals and humans at each others throats. Also, regular people have a right to know about the supernatural. The House, contrast, believes the world would self-destruct if this happened. Both qualify for this trope.
  • Villain Has a Point: Word of God has this as a deliberate theme as the Wazir, Cassandra, Committee, and Doctor Strickland all have valid points. It's just they're also ruthless in their pursuit. But then again, so are the heroes.
  • Yandere: Cassandra turns out to have these sorts of feelings regarding Derek. It's due to brainwashing she's only partially recovered from.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The threat of one of these is a driving force in Esoterrorism. Notable in the fact it would require terrorists to deliberately spread it and the army WOULD be able to deal with it. It just would break The Masquerade wide open.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Draugr are monsters created with vampire blood which are cannibalistic mindless creatures that are strong, fast, and durable. Also qualifies as Our Vampires Are Different.

     Eldritch Ops 
  • Abusive Parent: Shannon's father Titus took in his children when their hormones hit, manipulated them into helping him rape and murder across the world, and then released them on the world to continue their crimes. She also indirectly reveals that he raped her at some point.
  • Affably Evil: Rebecca Hawthorne is polite, friendly, and loves her brother. She also views supernaturals as subhumans that need to be eradicated.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Christopher and Nathan Hawthorne are completely inscrutable in their motives. Christopher is eventually revealed to be a good guy while Nathan remains ambiguous.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After Rebecca kills all the monsters she's imprisoned, Derek asks her point-blank if she'd be willing to do all of that to Shannon as well even though he loves her dearly. When Rebecca's response makes it clear that yes, she would, he kills her on the spot.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Bloodsword is the vampire Excalibur. It has a demon inside it and dramatically increases the power of the wielder. It chooses Derek as its wielder over Dracula.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: How Derek views vampires. At least initially.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: In the climax, while Derek kills Rebecca herself, it's Dracula's forces that actually destroy Protocol Zero, as they kill every soldier they can get their hands on.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Dracula and Rebecca Hawthorne
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: What happens to all of the mortals turned into vampires by the Vampire Nation. It's why they are Always Chaotic Evil. It is also what happens to supernaturals captured by Protocol Zero.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Derek has managed to kill Dracula, shut down Protocol Zero, and save his ex-partner from being a vampire puppet. He's lost a hand, though, and was forced to kill his sister Rebecca. It's also clear the House is going to turn on him for his betrayal.
  • Call-Forward: The book introduces the Vampire Nation that will play a large role in Straight Outta Fangton.
  • The Conspiracy: The House is brainwashing hundreds of supernaturals into Manchurian Agent figures as part of a plan to cause the supernatural world to become weak enough through infighting that they can all be exterminated. Dracula plans to stop this but only because he is personally threatened by it.
  • Dracula: Makes an appearance as the Big Bad. He's notable as being the warlord of the Vampire Nation as well as a pirate in addition to his usual qualities as a Romanian warlord.
  • Dramatic Irony: Dracula and Derek actually want the exact same thing. They hate each other too much to cooperate, though. They end up fighting to the death after they finish off Protocol Zero.
  • Enemy Mine: Dracula attempts to have this with Derek but it fails miserably.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Derek is not only a decent person despite his occupation, but he's also deeply religious, making it shocking when he decides that Rebecca has crossed too many lines and executes her on the spot, knowingly damning himself to kill the "monster" she had become.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Nathan is a ruthless member of the Red Room, but even he disapproves of Protocol Zero and only got involved in an attempt to bring it down from the inside.
    I find it one of the most repulsive operations the House has ever conceived of, which is saying something. Mind control is an abomination. Without free will there is functionally no difference between the living and the dead. Using it against vampires just opens the door to using it against humans which they did, starting with our own agents. I got on board hoping to ride herd but failed.
  • Fight Dracula: The premise of the book. Derek fights against Dracula and his minions. It's actually Protocol Zero who is the real villain.
  • Final Solution: The ultimate aim of Protocol Zero is to kill all supernaturals save mages.
  • Gambit Pileup: Even people who are nominally on the same side here want different things.
    • Derek, Shannon, Penny, and Malcolm are trying to prevent a war between the House and the Vampire Nation.
    • Dracula wants to wipe out the House entirely, beginning with Protocol Zero.
    • Nathan wants to manipulate Protocol Zero to eradicate the vampires to prevent them from rampaging when the Truth inevitably comes out.
    • Protocol Zero/Rebecca want to use vampires mesmerism in order to gradually enslave the world to the House's commands, beginning by eradicating all the supernaturals.
    • Annabelle wants to wipe out both the House and the Vampire Nation and spends the book putting them at war with each other.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Bloody Mary falls in love with Derek because he's a killer of hundreds of monsters. It's implied this was originally why she fell in love with Dracula.
  • Kinslaying Is a Special Kind of Evil: Both Derek and Nathan despise kinslayers, as killing one's own family is one of the few crimes which instantly earn someone damnation. It's why it's so shocking when Derek goes through with killing Rebecca when she crosses too many lines.
  • Lack of Empathy: Rebecca isn't The Sociopath because she is able to form lasting and friendly bonds with her family (to the point of them thinking of her as the Nice Girl among them). However, her feelings towards supernaturals are completely devoid of anything resembling respect as sentient beings. To the point she effectively runs a concentration camp and has all of the prisoners executed en masse to prevent their escape. It's also something that makes her a Hypocrite as she doesn't seem to hold her brother and sister's half-dragon status against them.
  • Mle Trois: The climax consists of Derek and his team, the forces of Camp Zero, and Dracula's army colliding in a giant battle at the camp. Derek is emotionally more connected to the humans, but he still kills Rebecca because Protocol Zero is too heinous to survive.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe, Derek decides that Rebecca crossed it when she kills all of her prisoners to prevent them from escaping during the attack. The fact that she could casually kill over one thousand beings without caring makes her a monster to him, and he hunts monsters.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Derek suffers this after killing Rebecca.
  • Obliviously Evil: Part of the reason why Rebecca is so disturbing is that she seems to have genuinely no idea that anything she's doing is actually wrong in any way. She can exterminate over one thousand beings with the push of a button and is confused when Derek seems shocked by this. It doesn't afford her any sympathy, but it's clear there's something deeply wrong with her psyche.
  • The Peter Principle: Derek is ill-suited to be a member of the Committee because he is a brilliant agent but not very good at politicking, paperwork, or diplomacy. He jumps at the opportunity to get back into the field and ends up utterly screwing up the Committee's plans.
  • Spanner in the Works: Derek hates vampires and probably would have agreed to any operation that is against them. However, the Committee didn't trust him and he ends up destroying Protocol Zero after Christopher shows him that they're not all bad.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Draugr show up again as weapons used by the Vampire Nation.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Christopher is ultimately revealed to have been a patsy of both Dracula and Annabelle, serving both sides in order to kickstart a war.
  • Wham Line: After Rebecca kills all of Camp Zero's prisoners, Derek's monologue quickly reveals what he'll do next - kill her.
    My sister was a monster.
    I hunted monsters.

     The Fall of the House 
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Following the Reveal, Stephen's particular brand of wanton slaughter has become so obsolete that he's ultimately reduced to a pitiable and purposeless mess of a person. What was once one of the most dangerous men in the world gets stabbed in the back by someone he didn't even know about as a present for his brother, and he ultimately goes unacknowledged in the long run.
  • All for Nothing: Derek's sole motivation is to save Ashley Morgan (senior) from death. He ends up having to kill her in order to stop Balor's rampage, albeit she asks him to do it.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Derek becomes a demon at the end of the game, though he's a free demon independent of Hell and has Bloody Mary's protection.
  • Avenging the Villain: Roland is motivated by the death of his cousin Cassandra in the first book.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Nathan Hawthorne successfully destroys the House and ends The Masquerade. He's also a Karma Houdini. Averted with Roland and Stephen, who both die in the end.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The House is destroyed and The Masquerade is broken. Roland and Stephen are dead while Balor has been returned to his state of half-death. However, Derek, Christopher, and Ashley all died in the process. Victory has been adopted by Penny and Lucy, though, while Derek is now a rogue demon working with Bloody Mary to fight Hell. Arthur has also become an assassin of evil doers, taking up Derek's mantle as humanity's champion. The series continues on in the other United States of Monster books.
  • Boring, but Practical: Nathan's plan can essentially be boiled down to "have Stephen kill the Committee and cause as much chaos as is physically possible so that it can't be hidden". It causes an insane amount of death, but it ultimately works and takes down the House.
  • Broken Masquerade: The goal of the villains. They succeed in the end.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Roland Cassidy, Stephen Hawthorne, and Nathan Hawthorne are the trio that are involved in events.
  • Call-Forward: Numerous ones to the Morgan Detective Agency with the Morgan family and Alex Timons as well as Lucien Drake showing up as support.
  • The Chessmaster: Nathan manipulates his children, his partners, the House, and eventually the entire world in order to get what he wants: a better world for humans and supernaturals.
  • The Dragon: The Gunmage is this to Roland Cassidy. She's his biological daughter but sacrificed as just another pawn.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Balor, who is apparently a fallen angel that masqueraded as a Celtic god. Resurrecting him is the primary aim of the villains.
  • Driven to Suicide: Christopher does this after Ashley dies.
  • Dwindling Party: Christopher, Ashley, and Derek all die in this adventure. Though Derek becomes a demon/god.
  • Expy: Roland Cassidy is one for Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2 according to Word of God.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Nathaniel Hawthorne proves to be this. The House is utterly corrupt and ruining society so he enacts a plan to create a Broken Masquerade and kill its leadership. It results in millions of deaths. It also destroys the House and creates a society where humans and supernaturals can live (mostly) in peace as shown in the other United States Of Monsters books.
  • Foil:
    • Roland Cassidy is a Deadpan Snarker Committee agent who is also a Bunny Ears lawyer who can keep up with Derek quip-for-quip and plan-for-plan.
    • Stephen Hawthorne is just as good an agent but wholly given to infernal magic, with a similar relationship to his demon familiar.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The prologue ends with Derek admitting that he failed in his mission and the Truth ultimately came out - it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of how.
  • Foreshadowing: The Vampire Nation has lost Dracula but has rebounded by buying up Detroit with plans to make it New Detroit.
  • The Hero Dies: Derek dies of his injuries at the end of the book. Thankfully, his spirit lives on.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ashley makes one of these in order to kill Balor.
  • Karma Houdini: Nathan Hawthorne kills millions of people with his plan to break The Masquerade and destroy the House. He also gets Derek, Ashley, and Christopher killed as well as sets loose Stephen. He ends up not only succeeding in his plan but taking over Pantheon Corp as well as becoming an international hero with a Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Derek and Penny's "dragon" mother is Kim Su from Bright Falls Mysteries.
  • Mind Rape: The Dream Chair's sole purpose is to inflict this.
  • Motive Decay: Derek briefly suffers this while unleashing his Superpowered Evil Side. He almost forgets why he's tearing into the bad guys.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Roland believes the best way to create a Broken Masquerade is to murder as many human beings in the most public way possible.
  • Passing the Torch: Alex, Arthur, Lucien, and Ashley are all teenagers in this book but heroes of the later United States of Monsters books.
  • Physical God: Balor is an enormous Godzilla-sized monster who resembles Chernabog from Disney's Fantasia.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Derek goes on one of these after being tortured in the Dream Chair.
  • Together in Death: Bloody Mary and Derek have an unconventional one of these.
  • Villains Do The Dirty Work: Stephen kills most of the Committee off at Nathan's behest.
  • Willing Channeler: Stephen is this for the demon Furfur, the two of them uniting their powers to do a maximum amount of evil.
    • Derek becomes this for Bloody Mary until his death.