TW: mind manipulation/mind control, implications of rape, incest/familial violence
Now this is what I'm talking about. Intrigue! Spookies that are scary! Smoochies with my OTP! Even if they're still trying to just be friends. Competence porn! Even if they're less competent than usual because they're all in the dark about what's really going on. The important thing is that they know they're in the dark, and even if they're a few steps behind, they're making the connections and taking the steps they need to take to try to catch up. The Black Council make a bold move in this book - and wins. They've gained serious ground, and honestly, I'm not so sure that they shouldn't. Stop ignoring your marginalized members, "White" Council. Then maybe you wouldn't have this problem. IJS.
First of all, Shagnasty was such a great villain here. A skinwalker! A fricking skinwalker! Supernatural so thoroughly screwed up that mythology that I lost all hope of it being done justice by anyone. Trust Jim Butcher to deliver the goods. It feeds on fear. It's virtually indestructible. Just uttering its name can call it forth. The way it fed on Harry's mind without him even being aware of its presence is horrifying.
On top of that, a traitor is working against the White Council. Much like Harry, I found the idea that Warden Morgan was the traitor to be too preposterous to be believed. All the other obvious suspects were just that - obvious, and so had to be discarded. Right? When the actual traitor is uncovered, it really was a "wait, who?" moment. I was pleased that Molly discovered one of the methods that were being used to manipulate the wizards and witches of the Council, though Harry was right to reprimand her for how she went about doing it. This method also has personal ramifications for Harry and Luccio, Luccio especially.(show spoiler)
The White Court of the Vampires are also pulled into the plot through a traitor in their mist, working with the leader of the Black Council. This has ramifications for Lara and Thomas. Lara's control by proxy of the White Court seems to be in question, and Thomas... I can't talk about what happened to Thomas. It's too upsetting. I'm hoping it's just some severe PTSD and he'll be able to overcome it, but even if he does... too upsetting. :(
There are also island adventures (and the island brings its own bundle of mysteries along with it), Mouse being the most adorable dog and perfect person-sitter ever, and the annoying overuse of the word "obliquely". James Marsters gives another amazing performance.