- The Good: Not very much works out for wizard detective Harry Dresden; more politics and fewer punches than the previous installment; slow transition from happy-go-lucky to a darker more nuanced narrative
- The Bad: Usual suspects and twists and turns; even the recurring bad guys are comfortably familiar
- The Literary: Top-of-the-line audiobook narration
Warden Morgan, the one who wanted to execute teenage Harry Dresden for not knowing the wizard code, shows up on Harry’s door asking for help. Morgan’s been framed for the murder of senior high council member LaFortier, and the Wizards of the White Council want Morgan to pay for his crimes with his own life.
Throughout the Dresden series, Harry has acquired a number of secondary characters, and in Turn Coat Harry’s apprentice Molly, Captain Luccio, Detective Murphy, Mouse (Harry’s enormous magical dog), and others are involved right from the beginning. Harry comes to suspect Madeline Raith, a member of the white court of killing LaFortier. In addition to the murder mystery, a shapeshifter from Navajo legend is terrorizing Harry and killing his friends, and Harry’s secret vampire half-brother is kidnapped. Harry summons the Council, House Raith, and the naagloshii to the hidden island of Demonreach so they can all duke it out face-to-face and he can expose the killer. Events don’t quite go according to Harry’s plan.
After all these books’ worth of character development, Harry has a stake in the Wizard Council and a lot of people to lose. But he also decides to help Morgan despite his past and feelings toward him, because he knows it’s the right thing to do, and it’s a big moment for Harry. But things don’t always work out and Morgan is captured and put on trial. Harry’s loses his relationship with his brother and his sort-of girlfriend Luccio. And there’s probably still a secret Black Council that’s corrupted the organized group of wizards.
As a side note, I am not sure how I feel about Butcher including a Navajo skin-walker. I do like that the naagloshi is nearly undefeatable and arguably the scariest creature in the book. Harry has nothing but good things to say about the ancient medicine man with multiple medical degrees, and it’s clear that Butcher is attempting to come from a place of respect. But Listens-to-Wind perpetuates a very known stereotype, not to mention providing little space for the character to grow. Butcher may have unconsciously conceded appropriation of the naagloshi or at least admitted he doesn’t understand enough about it, since the only character able to defeat it is the Native American. There’s much more that could be discussed, but despite Butcher “coming from a good place” this plot device is uncomfortable.
Highly recommended for fans of urban fantasy. This series builds upon itself and delivers standalone stories that are fun and full of heart. The audiobook narrated by James Marsters is the only way to consume these.