Proven Guilty, by Jim Butcher
Proven Guilty is the eighth book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. The series follows Harry Dresden, a modern-day wizard living in Chicago. In this book, Harry starts his position as a Warden on the White Council by witnessing an execution. This forces him to look back at his own time of trial before the Council. After the council meeting, Ebenezar asks Harry to look into why Winter isn’t willing to aid the Council in the war when Summer is. Meanwhile, Molly Carpenter calls Harry to bail her out of jail. She says dangerous things are happening and that she needs his help. Harry always has so much on his plate.
Warning: Spoilers follow here.
Harry decides to do what Eb asks of him and see why Winter is acting weird. That same night, he gets a phone call from Molly saying she needs to be bailed out of jail. Once Harry gets there, he realizes that it’s not Molly who needs to be bailed out, but her boyfriend Nelson. Nelson was arrested after he was accused of brutally attacking a famous movie director at a horror convention. Nelson claims that he didn’t do it, even though he was the only other person in the bathroom where the assault took place. Harry takes Molly back home, where she hasn’t been in a while since dropping out of school and leaving home due to differences between her and Charity. Michael is getting ready to leave on a mission and asks Harry to look after his family and see if he can’t get Molly and Charity to reconcile. Harry says he will. Harry heads over to the hotel where the convention is taking place to check things out. There, he meets Rawlins, a cop who’s worked with him before. After getting reacquainted, Rawlins and Harry team up to find out what’s happening in the hotel. Suddenly, the lights go out. After going up against a movie villain known as the Reaper (who resembles Jason Voorhees), and watching him turn into ectoplasm, Harry realizes the monsters terrorizing the convention are from the Nevernever. They are beings called Phobophages, and they feed on fear. So they “dress up” as famous movie villains to elicit fear from the people who were most scared by that villain. Harry deduces that the phages were called upon by someone, a summoner. He starts a spell that will redirect the phages to their summoner the next time they show up. Then the summoner will be done for and the phages will be gone. The spell works on all but one phage, and Harry finally manages to take her out. Afterward, Harry and Rawlins leave the hotel and are ambushed by a man named Darby, a movie producer, and his lawyer, Glau. Darby and Glau take Harry and Rawlins to the Full Moon Garage, the same place Harry was help captive in Fool Moon. After teaming up with Lasciel against his better judgment to escape, Harry gets Rawlins and himself out of the garage only to be ambushed again by Darby and Glau. Out of nowhere, Thomas, who had officially moved out of Harry’s apartment and made himself scarce, shows up and uses his sawed-off shotgun to resume order. Turns out Darby is actually Thomas’s cousin Madrigal. An unseen figure interrupts the family reunion and kills Glau out of sight. The figure steps out and reveals himself to be the Scarecrow, another movie villain. Even with Hellfire, Harry’s magic doesn’t so much as deter the Scarecrow. Confused, Harry, Thomas, and Mouse all take turns trying to defeat the Scarecrow. Once the Scarecrow is distracted, and Rawlins is loaded into Madrigal’s rental van, Thomas drives everyone away in the van. After narrowly escaping the Scarecrow again in the street, Thomas and Harry take Rawlins to the hospital. Harry decides to follow the trail he placed on the phages when he cast the summoner spell. The trail leads to the Carpenter’s house, which is completely disheveled. Seriously worried, Harry runs into the house screaming for someone to answer. No one answers. Thomas finds Daniel in the treehouse in the back yard. Daniel tells Harry that three movie monsters showed up and took Molly away. Then he tells Harry that the rest of his family is upstairs in the panic room. Harry hurries up there and gets the whole family to Father Forthill. Charity confesses to Harry that the reason she and Molly are at odds is because Molly has magical talent, and so did Charity when she was young. After getting in with the wrong crowd, Charity gave up magic and is now wanting Molly to do the same. Worried about Molly, Charity, Thomas, and Harry head back to Harry’s apartment as he tries to cast a spell to find Molly in the Nevernever. The spell fails initially, but after a call from Thomas Murphy shows up and suggests using Charity’s blood as a tracking device. The foursome decide to take that chance and head into the Nevernever the next morning. Having previously met up with Lily and Fix and learned that Mab is going crazy and urging Winter to attack Summer since Summer is at its weakest trying to aid the Council (hence Winter not participating), Harry asks the two to accompany his group into the Nevernever. After defeating three phages inside the theater where the portal to the Nevernever is, Lily admits that she will have to hold the portal open until they can return, which would rob her of all her power – so she has to stay. And since the portal will just be standing wide open, Fix will need to stay back as well to fight off any creature attempting to come through. So the four are on their own. They are led through the snow and ice by a fiery butterfly that Lily supplied them with. They follow the butterfly to Mab’s castle, Arctis Tor. The grounds are littered with bones and it takes a long time to wade through them. The gang finally gets inside the castle and battles more phages before ascending a spiral staircase that leads to the area where Molly is being held, screaming. While Thomas and Murphy hold the door to the staircase, Harry and Charity go ahead to face the Scarecrow, the phage holding Molly hostage. After an epic and intense battle, Harry finally defeats the Scarecrow by figuring out that the butterfly is actually a small generator of Summer’s power. He uses the butterfly to call up one last big spell and wins. The use of the summer power however alerts all of Winter that Summer is present and the war horns are heard from miles away. The gang grabs Molly and makes a mad dash back to the portal. They finally return and Harry confesses that he used Summer power and that now Winter is on his heels. Fix is taken aback, but Lily admits that she planned it that way, because now that Winter is all the way on the other side from Summer, Summer can now aid the Council against the vampires, which they do. Everyone heads back to the church, and Harry takes Molly aside for a talk about being a wizard and what her new power means. Along with Harry’s advice, and against Charity’s wishes, Molly elects to go before the Council of her own accord. Upon arrival however, Ramirez tells Harry that Luccio, Eb, and Injun Joe are all away at their boot camp. This means that everyone who favors Harry is absent and that the verdict looks to be grim. Following a strict trial, Molly is ordered to be killed. The Gatekeeper steps in and distracts the Council until Ebenezar and the rest of the good guys, including Michael, can show up. Turns out the mission Michael was called on led him to help out Luccio’s boot camp. It’s almost as if the Council owes him now. Harry is finally appointed as Molly’s teacher. That same night, Harry, Michael, and Molly are driving in Harry’s car on the way to Michael’s house, and Harry finally tells Michael about Lasciel. Michael says he already knows and that he’s here for Harry, for either path he takes. Harry and Molly head back to Harry’s apartment to discuss how their relationship is going to work. After making it bluntly obvious that anything romantic is completely off the table and establishing a schedule for training, Harry takes Molly back home, where she is expected to move back in and enroll in school again. The next morning, Eb drops by to discuss Council matters with Harry. They both suspect there is a third-party at work here, not only trying to bring baddies to Chicago, but also messing with Mab. But whoever/whatever the third-party is is a mystery. Harry and Eb finally reconnect and head off to grab dinner together.
I really enjoyed this one. This one is my favorite so far, other than Blood Rites. Two questions stick out: who ran into Harry with their car at the beginning, and what does Thomas now do for a living? I need to know! It blew my mind when I learned about Charity. Everything of course made a little more sense after that. I hope Mouse is all right. He was limping badly for the last half of the book. Near the end, when Molly sort of tried to seduce Harry, it really made me uncomfortable, like in a pedophilic way. I’m glad he didn’t give into that. I was so happy when Harry told Michael about Lasciel. I actually took in a breath when he said it. It was surprising to me that Michael already knew, but I appreciated his friendship for Harry. Thomas was super mysterious this book, so I’m hoping a lot of that gets cleared up next book. There’s a lot of hinting that Murphy and Harry will get together, but I’m not sure I want that. I’m still so hopeful for Susan’s return. I want something more to come of that. I almost feel like Harry’s just settling for Murphy because she’s there and they’re close. I’ll be interested to see how Molly’s training goes, and if Charity is any nicer to Harry.
For Next Time
White Night, by Jim Butcher
In Chicago, someone has been killing practitioners of magic, those incapable of becoming full-fledged wizards. Shockingly, all the evidence points to Harry Dresden’s half-brother, Thomas, as the murderer. Determined to clear his sibling’s name, Harry uncovers a conspiracy within the White Council of Wizards that threatens not only him, but his nearest and dearest, too…