Warning: May contain spoilers for previous Dresden Files books.
Proven Guilty is the eighth book in Jim Butcher’s bestselling The Dresden Files. In book seven, Harry was made a Warden of the White Council, mostly for lack of other qualified candidates. As a Warden, it is Harry’s responsibility to enforce the White Council’s Magical Laws. Of course, Harry’s never been popular among the White Council, so he’s under extra scrutiny during his first official investigation of magic run amok. It doesn’t help that Harry himself has reservations about his position as a Warden due to his less than sparkling clean past. When someone starts mixing black magic and fairy magic with deadly results, Harry must set aside his reservations and do what he does best.
A nod to the fans
Conventions are a huge part of speculative fiction fandom, so it really doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Butcher has chosen a horror film convention as the setting for one of his novels. Molly Carpenter, the eldest daughter of regular character Michael Carpenter, is volunteering for the convention with her boyfriend Nelson. There’s a whole lot of dark magic going on at the convention, and Molly knows enough about the paranormal to call in Harry. Aside from Harry’s signature wit, the off-beat nature of this book comes from its setting among geeks watching zombie movies.
What is the right thing?
The book’s title, Proven Guilty, really tells you what this book is about, and it’s not just a play on the American legal philosophy of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ It’s also about which punishments fit which crimes, and how the right motives can lead to the wrong actions. Molly, even though she has a Knightly father and loving family, is a teenager in a lot of trouble. Some of it’s for the right reasons, and some of it’s for stupid teenager reasons. Molly’s trouble with her family and with her own relationship to the paranormal complicate Harry’s investigation, and reiterate his unease with being a Warden. In previous novels, Harry was expected to follow the Laws, or at least make sure that whatever human laws he broke were done out of sight of Chicago PD. Now he has to be an example and enforce those same laws, and he has to figure out how he’s going to let that responsibility define him.
Why you should read this book?
I’m hoping by this point that Cameron, Garrett, and I have convinced you that The Dresden Files are all must reads, and this is no different. The plot in Proven Guilty has a lot of nuance to it, and Harry has to do a lot of self-examination that’s been a long time coming. As always, there are major developments that will define future books, but the real emphasis here is on Harry himself. Harry finds a lot of lines he won’t cross, and has to figure out ways around them. As always, he challenges the establishment in ways that no one else dares to do. Overall, this is an installment that is not to be missed.