Cold Case by Jim Butcher

I’m slowly making my way through Jim Butcher’s collection of short stories, Brief Cases. This is the ninth story in that collection.

Published: originally in 2016 in the anthology Shadowed Souls

Genre: urban fantasy short story

Length: 48 pages

Setting: in the town of Unalaska, Alaska, after the events of Ghost Story

Summary: Short version: Mab sends Molly, as the Winter Lady, to collect tribute from the Miksani

Long version: The Miksani haven’t sent their tribute to the Winter Lady in a few years, and now that Molly has accepted the mantle of Winter Lady, she’s in charge of collecting the tribute. When she arrives in Unalaska, things aren’t quite right there. She’s accosted in a bar and everyone runs away when he’s put on the floor for his behavior by the Warden Carlos Ramirez. As Molly and Ramirez stake out the bar, a creepy collection of fishermen come by to find her. It seems a cult of one of the Old Ones has taken the Miksani’s children for sacrifice. Molly and Ramirez work together to save the children. To celebrate their successful collaboration, Molly and Ramirez prepare to have sex. Molly then learns that while her hormones are raging, the Winter Lady is the maiden aspect of Winter and there will be no sex.

Final thoughts: This story certainly achieved Butcher’s stated goal – to provide some details on the role of the Winter Lady. It was interesting to see Molly work with a lot more magical power. She is no longer limited to her own bits of illusion, but can call upon the power of Winter. Of course, she also has to remind herself regularly that she’s mortal even if she’s interacting with lots of the fae. She has rules to follow that might not be fair, but are consistent and well enforced. It probably would behoove her to learn what those rules are before she hurts someone. She nearly killed Ramirez because she didn’t realize magic would kick in to stop her before she was no longer a maiden.

The setting was suitably wintery. They’re up in Alaska in the middle of a sleet storm. It doesn’t affect Molly one bit, which is just another indication that she’s no longer the person we knew. That was also demonstrated when she and Ramirez rescue the kids. She’s been caught and I’m worried about how she was going to escape. Turns out she was just waiting for the Miksani and Ramirez to get clear before she froze the entire church, crushing all the bad guys in the ice. Guess she wasn’t in any danger at all.

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