The ninth novel in The Dresden Files, White Night, sees Harry investigating a series of crimes in the magical community and stumbling onto something that not only implicates him but those closest to him. How will Harry get out of this one?
We begin with Murphy calling Harry to consult on an apparent suicide. From the woman’s apartment, Harry can tell that she’s a practitioner of magic and he trots out his brand new magic kit to find the words “Exodus 22:18” hidden there. “Suffer not a witch to live.”
Murphy realizes that it’s a murder and wants Harry to look into it. Harry asks if there are other “suicides.” Murphy can’t tell him but tells him Butters might know. Before Harry can leave, though, Murphy senses a presence and attacks it, revealing Molly, Harry’s apprentice, using a veil. Harry told her to stay behind and practice, but Molly got bored. Murphy threatens Molly with arrest until Molly apologizes and Harry tells her she still needs to worry about the consequences of her actions.
They visit Butters who remarks on some suicides that have come into the morgue. Harry has Molly use her Sight on the dead body and her experience is far from gruesome. Instead, she experiences intense ecstasy. They also uncover writing on the body, “Exodus 22:18.” It’s a serial killer.
Harry goes to McAnally’s for a drink and notices how empty it is. Mac mentions it’s partly because Harry’s a Warden now. And also because they’re afraid of him. Harry asks Mac for help and gets pointed in the direction of the Ordo Lebes and their leader, Anna Ash, a group of magic practitioners, not powerful enough to be full wizards.
On the way there with Murphy, Harry mentions that he’s been out in the desert helping to train baby Wardens, and that there was an attack on the camp by ghouls. Seems the war is still in full swing. At Anna Ash’s place, he finds a number of practitioners. Harry learns that 20 people have gone missing from the supernatural community, some seen in the company of a tall man in a grey cloak. Hmmm...doesn’t Harry wear a grey cloak now that he’s a Warden? Others were seen in the company of a beautiful, dark-haired man with pale skin. Hmmm...doesn’t that sound like Harry’s brother, Thomas Raith? Murphy and Harry realize that one of the dead women, Jessica Blanche, isn’t part of the Ordo so Harry and Murphy decide to check it out. Before they can leave, however, Murphy’s car blows up.
Shaken, Harry takes the El home and calls Thomas to no avail. So, since he has a key to Thomas’s place, he heads over there and checks out Thomas’s new place. It’s nice, chic even, and tidy. Then Harry stumbles into the second bedroom where there are semi-automatic weapons and pictures of all the dead women. Before Harry can properly react, the police are at the front door. Harry pretends to be Thomas’s gay lover and talks his way out of it, and heads home.
Back at his place he has a little chat with Lasciel (now called Lash). Harry makes a reference to Lasciel helping him out with the ghouls in New Mexico at the Warden Camp (since Lasciel actually could speak ancient Sumerian). Lash helps Harry with his guitar playing, which leads Harry to question how could such an evil creature help him produce such beauty. Lash helps Harry call up Thomas’s wall of pictures so that he can peruse them in leisure. Lash seems to think that it might be Thomas, but Harry thinks if it is, he must be controlled, somehow. Lasciel also helps Harry realize that someone in Anna Ash’s apartment was veiled. He leaves to go talk to her.
When he gets to Anna’s apartment he senses that something is really wrong. There’s a magical tussle, and Mouse gets involved. Anna admits that they hired a private investigator when people started disappearing. Turns out that PI is Harry’s first girlfriend, Elaine.
Elaine and Harry catch up/banter for a bit and Elaine fills Harry in on the fact that so far thirty-six practitioners have gone missing in multiple cities. She’s not aware of any hidden biblical references left behind, though. She wonders if it could be any of the Wardens, but Harry’s not sure. Of course, there is a traitor or traitors on the White Council. As they’re deciding their next move, they become aware of a fire in the building. Mouse uses some kind of special Temple Dog alarm bark and they all run out of the building. Out of the street, Harry sees someone in a grey cloak and runs off after him.
Harry is tempted to face off with Grey Cloak, but, for a change, he forces himself to use his brain. If Grey Cloak is working with the Black Council, Harry is better off following him to find out. Grey Cloak gets into a car and Harry manages to get a bit of paint from the car and heads back to Little Chicago, his scale model of the city, to put it to use. Harry manages to use it to locate the car and then magically eavesdrop on it. He hears part of a conversation between Grey Cloak and some other person who mentions that he faced Harry once before. They also mention “Skavis”. Then they separate and Harry chooses to follow Grey Cloak, into Undertown. He follows him back to his lair where he speaks with a dark robed master like a scene out of a Star Wars movie. Harry immediately thinks of Cowl, but surely he’s dead, right? The Cowl-a-like catches sight of Harry in his insubstantial form and somehow banishes him. But not before Harry gets a good look at Grey Cloak’s face.
Harry is awakened by Molly in his lab with a hell of headache. Had it not been for his threshold and Little Chicago absorbing the blast, he would surely be dead. Harry talks to Murphy and informs us all that Skavis is one of the houses of the White Court of Vampires. House Raith feeds on lust, House Malvora (of whom Madrigal, from Proven Guilty was one) feeds on fear, and House Skavis feeds on either pain or despair (Harry isn’t sure). Harry guesses that Grey Cloak is part of House Malvora.
Harry calls his friend Ramirez, of the Grey Wardens, though he hasn’t heard much of any White Court activity. Harry goes to confront Helen Beckitt, one of the Ordo members and someone whom Harry encountered back in Storm Front. She claims not to know anything and Harry ends up believing her. Another member of the Ordo, Olivia, is missing as well now. Surveillance footage shows her leaving her house with Thomas. Harry tracks Thomas to a boat, with Elaine along for the ride. They board and after a minor misunderstanding with Thomas, they encounter a group of the targeted women hidden in a hold on the ship. Thomas discovered they were in danger and got to them before the culprit. Before they can get into details, another boat pulls up and thirteen ghouls hop aboard the ship to attack.
A battle ensues with Harry and Elaine and Thomas taking part. In the end, Harry uses a trick from the previous book, using his fire magic to lower the temperature of the water and turning it into ice so Thomas’s refugees can get free. Then Elaine and Thomas get out, but when Harry jumps down, the ice starts to crack and Madrigal Raith (who masqueraded as Darby Crane in Proven Guilty) appears on deck of the other ship and opens fire on Harry.
Bullets hit Harry and in the moment he flashes back to New Mexico and what happened at the Warden training camp (alluded to several times already). The Council is so desperate that it’s drafting sixteen year olds with talent. Harry is talking to Captain Luccio, now in the Corpsetaker’s original body, about how she’s adjusting when ghouls attack the camp, making off with a couple of the wardens-in-training. Harry pursues them into a cave where he finds the two sixteen year old twins horribly dead. Harry executes the ghoul there and two more being captive back at camp. It’s safe to say that Harry gives in to the darker side of his nature. He spares one ghoul and sends him back with a message. “Never again.” Harry returns to himself under the lake where he holds on to a ghoul until Thomas and Elaine come to save him.
Harry wakes up (again) with Elaine. They can’t reach Elaine’s clients and go to check on them. They unfortunately find Anna Ash dead of an apparent-but-not-really suicide in Elaine’s hotel bathroom. They find the other women at Abby’s house, along with Mouse. They left the hotel because Helen told them to. She had to go to work, she said. Harry checks back in with Murphy who tells Harry that Jessica Blanche, the odd woman who wasn’t a member of the Ordo, actually worked for the rebuilt Velvet Room (the original was destroyed in Storm Front). Its owner is Gentleman Johnny Marcone.
Harry goes to the club with Murphy to find that it’s been made over as a health club (though still with the prostitution element intact, under the surface). Harry and Murphy meet with Marcone and the head of the club, Ms. Demeter (the madam), who happens to be Helen Beckitt. Harry talks to her alone and soulgazes with her, seeing how she’s tied to Marcone. He sees that her daughter was killed as collateral damage in a mob attack on a young Johnny Marcone. She says that she didn’t call the others so Harry figures it must be Priscilla, the member of the Ordo who takes all the calls. Also the one who wears turtlenecks in the summer. He surmises that she IS the Skavis.
Harry hurries to stop Priscilla, figuring that this is a power play on the part of the Skavis. Raith is negotiating a cease fire with the Red Court. If Skavis can show that they can weaken the magical community, they can possibly seize power. Grey Cloak, the Malvora, and Madrigal are most likely trying to take credit for the idea. Thomas, Harry suspects, is acting under orders of his sister, Lara Raith, true leader of House Raith, who is currently holding Thomas’s girlfriend, Justine.
Harry uses his bond with Elaine to communicate with her over a distance. He finds her in despair, under the influence of the Skavis. He reawakens her and Elaine attacks the Skavis who had been masquerading as Priscilla. Thomas and Mouse show up to help finish the job and Harry takes Elaine to the hospital where Murphy warns Harry about his anger issues.
Harry returns home and has a long conversation with Lash about free will, first in the case of Molly, then about Harry and finally about Lash himself. Harry tries to tell her that as Lasciel’s shadow, inside his mind, she can choose her path.
Then Harry hooks up with Warden Ramirez for the purpose of helping support House Raith in their struggles agains their rival houses. At least House Raith is trying to talk peace, Harry thinks. And the other houses have killed a lot of people. Molly talks to Harry, protesting that she wants to be involved, not because she wants to, because she’s scared, but that she needs to. That it’s good work that Harry’s doing and Harry says she’s ready.
They head to the Raith Estate and meet up with Lara Raith who takes them into the Deeps. The White Court vamps have a load of people in cages there, and faeries trapped in glass. Justine comes to Harry, seemingly back to normal, and give Harry a quick prep about the conclave. Then Harry listens in on the vamps, using Lash’s facility with languages to understand. When the suitable opening occurs, Harry and Ramirez walk in and Harry accuses Madrigal and House Malvora of violating the Accords by preying on practitioners and he challenges the culprits to a duel to the death. Raith Sr. agrees. Before the duel can start, however, Ramirez lets Harry know that he doesn’t trust him.
The duel is difficult, even with Ramirez backing up Harry, but Harry takes out Madrigal Raith. Vittorio Malvora, however, calls out to a “Master” and suddenly a buttload of ghouls show up. Really old, powerful ghouls. They attack wizards and vampires alike. Harry opens a way to the Nevernever and Thomas appears as well to help fight them. Then Murphy and Marcone (along with Marcone’s men). The way allows for retreat but Thomas isn’t leaving without Justine, and Harry has to save the Raiths to ensure the peace process continues. He pleads with Marcone to help him and Marcone reluctantly agrees. Harry also notices that the ghouls can recover from their wounds.
More fighting ensues and Marcone’s people wire the cave with charges. Before Harry can get out, though, he gets hit with Vittorio’s power, something beyond his normal power of fear, something that keeps Harry reeling on the ground. Lash appears in his mind, accelerating his mind (while time flows slower around them) telling him he needs to accept her power otherwise he might die. Harry refuses. He knows she has the power to help him without him giving in. She tells Harry that Vittorio is calling on the powers of an Outsider, one of those powerful demon-like entities that we’ve heard mentioned a couple of times before. She also tells Harry that he was born with power over the Outsiders, that he defeated one as a teenager (He That Walks Behind). She then helps Harry overcome the power and come to by sacrificing herself.
Using a shotgun, Harry shoots off Vittorio’s hand which disrupts his power and allows Harry to get the drop on him. The others get moving for the gate while Harry holds the gun on Vittorio. Everyone gets clear except for him and Lara. Then Cowl appears, the real Cowl, and begins to close Harry’s doorway to the Nevernever. Lara grabs him and tries to haul him through, but they don’t make it. Instead, Harry has Lara run for the cave entrance, telling her to kiss him to give her some more energy. Harry uses his shield like a bullet in the barrel of a gun to ride the explosion out.
Once outside, Lara mentions that Harry’s still protected since he hasn’t had sexual relations since Susan. Then Harry guesses that Lara was the one who gave House Skavis the idea to kill practitioners and then House Malvora the idea to try to take credit. Lara agrees, under pressure, to pay a weregild to the families of those who died, to agree never again to target magical practitioners, and finally to free the imprisoned faeries.
Back home safe and sound, Harry fills in Molly and Murphy about what happened. He had arranged for Thomas, Murphy and Marcone to be waiting in the Nevernever for him to open the way. And he had bribed Marcone with status as a freeholding lord as a member of the Unseelie Accords. Harry thinks it’s a good idea because it gives Marcone a stake in defending against the supernatural denizens of the world, something Harry might one day need.
Harry visits Elaine and talks about setting up a safety network for the magical practitioners. He then talks to Ramirez who has an issue, not with Harry mistrusting the Wardens, but with him mistrusting Ramirez. Ramirez has noticed some strange stuff going on and the possibility of a traitor in the council. He wants Harry to talk to him in the future.
Harry visits Marcone where he signs the paperwork to sign him onto the Accords. He also finds out that the woman in a coma, whom Marcone visited with the Shroud of Turin at the end of Death Masks, was Helen Beckitt’ s daughter, shot in an attempt of Marcone’s life.
As for Lash, she’s now gone, the sigil no longer on Harry’s hand and he digs up the coin at the end of the book to give to Father Forthill. Then he tracks down Thomas, who is now working at his own hair salon. He put himself through cosmetology school and now feeds by working on women’s hair, a much safer alternative. Harry and Thomas reconcile at the end.
The War: It still continues, in earnest. In Harry’s flashback we see him helping to train the new Wardens, and the efforts taken to destroy those Wardens. However, in this case, it’s attacked by ghouls, who we later see serving Cowl. So we can assume that Cowl initiated the attack on the White Council, meaning that heavier players are involved on the side of the Red Court. But is it a war between the White Council and the Red Court? Or is it a war between the White Council and the Black Council?
Thomas: In Proven Guilty there seems to be some doubt that what Thomas is up to is kosher, something that Butcher plays on here in White Night. But it seems that Thomas has found a way to feed without hurting people, and he has taken up being a hero in the way that Harry is. He’s also still hopelessly in love with Justine. I was happy to see them on better ground at the end of White Night. Thomas is too good looking for me to like him, but I do despite all that.
Molly: This is our first glimpse of Harry training Molly. And she still has a lot to learn. But this is where we see Molly starting to understand what it is Harry does, and what it takes. She might just have some promise after all.
Lasciel: It’s only been a couple of books since Harry grabbed Lasciel’s coin, but it seems that she’s gone from his mind. He even turns the coin over, apparently having made his peace with the temptation. What’s interesting is that Harry not only resists, but turns his tempter into his protector. While Harry might have a dark side, it’s clear that his core is strong and always willing to do the right thing. And now he doesn’t have to hide as much from the people closest to him.
Marcone: At the end of White Night, Marcone is part of the supernatural world, with a stake in defending “his territory.” Harry uses the same term several times—”the devil I know.” I’m under no illusions that what Marcone does is good, but I think we see here that he does have his own morality and I like him better on Harry’s side. And Harry realizes that he can use the support (which he got as far back as Death Masks). Which brings me to....
Allies: We now know that there’s a shadowy organization apparently orchestrating Big Evil (the Black Council). But I get the sense as of this book that Harry is building a group of allies to stand against them. That includes Marcone, if necessary, but he also has Michael, Ebenezar and his friends, Thomas, Mouse, Murphy, and now Molly. I start to get the feeling that things are only going to get bigger and he will need that support more than ever.
What did you think about White Night? Did you like seeing more of the White Court? Let me know what you thought in the comments. And check back for the next post which brings us back to the Faerie side of things when Harry is asked for a Small Favor....