Here we go, duckies. I’ve got a buffer now, since I decided to spend the weekend reading and doing reviews ahead of time so this way if chaos strikes (especially with fair season starting up this week), you all aren’t going to get lost in it.
Proven Guilty sets off with a bit of excitement. Harry is serving in his new role as Warden…doing the one thing that he has always hated about the White Council. Killing children who were left untaught in the ways of magic until they were too far gone. He isn’t allowed to dwell on it though. McCoy has a mission for him – find out why the two Faerie Courts aren’t gnashing at the gums for a piece of the vampires themselves. And to add to that, the Gatekeeper drops a case in his lap. Ten cases of black magic have been happening in Chicago, Harry’s territory as a Warden. Compared to all of this, telling Charity that he bailed her daughter’s boyfriend out of jail should be a piece of case, right?
This book did so many things right, it’s hard to nail down where to start. I know, weird for me, right? I guess I’ll start with the fact that there weren’t nearly as many new characters to try and keep track of. Oh, there were a few, don’t get me wrong. But they were pretty much side characters and were rarely too big of a deal to keep track of. Butcher also took the opportunity to reintroduce some characters we haven’t seen in a while, which are really what this review is going to focus on a bit since they were really what I took away from the book.
The first is the Faerie Courts themselves. We saw Lily the Summer Lady and her Knight, Fix, again and dear lord have they grown up. Lily is almost impossible to compare to her previous self, something that Harry forgets way too easily in the course of dealing with her, which makes sense. We as human beings tend to stick to first impressions. Harry is especially stupid with it, and it made several snicker worthy moments. Maeve also made another reappearance and hinted that things might not be well within Winter, which does some marvelous setting up for later on in the series if it proves true. We didn’t see Mab, for sure, so there’s no way of knowing. Harry’s godmother and the Winter Knight made brief appearances, and with Lloyd, we actually got a little resolution, since it answered the question of what exactly Mab was doing with him. This was immediately replaced with some deepening of the plot as far as the godmother goes, but her appearance was so short, I have no idea where it is going to go yet.
We also got reintroduced to the Carpenter family, particularly Molly and Charity. (God had business for Michael that was kinda important.) I’m going to admit, Charity always sat weird with me. I could see why this character was created. There are actually women like her, I would know, I was raised being exposed to many of them considering the part of the country where I live. But this book actually showed us what all was going on behind all of that, and I found that I liked and respected her a lot more after the big reveal at the end regarding her. Molly was a lot less of a surprise, in some ways. After the opening, I pretty much knew what was going on with her and her friends. Sometimes she got a little too stereotypical rebellious teenager, and I really, really hated the scene at the end where she offers herself to Harry. I’m all for May/December romances…but only with legal, consenting adults. And I know Dresden turned her down and all that, but… I don’t know. It just bugged me. I don’t think we needed to go that way, especially not in the first book that reintroduces Molly as a regular character.
Michael, btw, is also one of my favorite parts of the book. He and Harry finally hash things out (spoiler, but come on, it’s something that’s pretty obvious is going to happen if the family is being brought in), and I thought his way of phrasing and handling things was awesome. As was his reaction to Harry fulfilling the favor Michael asked before he left.
Which leads me towards one of my favorite parts of the book. The trial. On my lord, the trial. I loved watching Harry manage to outmaneuver everybody…and then he went and blew it by going, “Oh crap, I just one upped the big guy and he’s going to have to reclaim his power base, CRAP!” because all I could think was, “Wait, outmaneuvering him wasn’t the PLAN to BEGIN WITH? HARRY!” But again, I think this set a stage if Butcher wants to use it. Harry has a lot of power, and has the base of at least the incoming generation of wizards who think he’s right in challenging the old ways of thinking. I’m curious to see if Harry ends up on the Senior Council in the future…and also dreading it. Because Harry is going to be the world’s worst politician.