Demonreach is an island in Lake Michigan that was removed from maps after a long association with the supernatural. The energies around the lake deter travelers from approaching and slowly become hostile to those who approach.
According to the backstory in Cold Days, the island's magic was created and put in place by the Original Merlin across time as a supernatural prison to keep the worst and most powerful evil beings contained. There are at least half a dozen naagloshii imprisoned there; these are considered the most benign, low-security inmates. Other entities, described as "[n]ightmares, dark gods, nameless things, immortals" are also imprisoned there, the total imprisoned rising above 6,000 entities.
The island was once the location of a cannery in the early 1900s, until the magic from what Harry Dresden believed to be a ley line running through the island killed enough of its inhabitants to chase them away. It is later revealed that the ley line does not run through the island, but from it; the island, particularly the supernatural prison far below it, is the source of the ley line's tremendous power. The Gatekeeper Rashid has advised Dresden not to use that power directly, only the Intellectus of the island's spirit.
Dresden describes it as covered in woods, lots of trees under a foot in thickness. Between the trees there is brush and thickets with thorns growing about five feet up from the ground. There is an old ghost town along the shoreline, so old that trees have reclaimed the space and most of the buildings have fallen down. There are the rotting remains of an old dock with only the posts sticking out the water. Up on the highest point of the island on a hill stands the outline of a worn building or tower.
In Turn Coat, Harry Dresden uses the Sanctum invocation on the island and its genius loci. He names it Demonreach. With Thomas' help, he constructs a floating dock, which they name "Whatsup Dock".
The stones on the cottage and on the tower glow with fox fire, then evolve into symbols, script in some unknown language. They seem to repulse the naagloshii, keeping him from approaching the structures. Bob tells Dresden that he doesn't know what the symbols on the rocks of the cottage are except that they predate wizardry and are very powerful and very numerous—hundreds on each rock—and layered.
The island's genius loci is extremely old and powerful. It has Intellectus limited to its shores, which Harry Dresden can use while on the island. Demonreach's genius loci manifests as a figure about eleven or twelve feet tall, with a billowing black cloak, a limp (caused by the glacier that carved out the lake), and two vividly green eyes.
In Cold Days, the manifestation of the island resists the power of Maeve, the Winter Lady (one of the most powerful Sidhe), and a retinue of high ranking Sidhe Nobles, while simultaneously warding off an attack from an army of outsiders. It took the combined powers of both Ladies and their retinues hours to even damage him slightly, a testament to his immense power.
However, Demonreach seems limited in its ability to actively resist invaders, which Dresden speculates is due to the nature of the island itself. Mab acknowledges that Demonreach could have responded more aggressively to her daughters' attack and thanks him for being restrained.
The prison and the warden
The structures and magic on Demonreach were created with the purpose of building a supernatural prison, where the most powerful beings could be contained to minimize the damage they could cause. The captives are kept underground, in a massive holding area called the well. This lies behind a gateway secured by very powerful wards, which can be deactivated if one knows the right pattern. The entrance to the well appears to be the minimum security area. From there, twelve broad tunnels branch out, sloping downwards to an unknown length, holding the other prisoners.
If someone bonds with the genius loci of the island, they become the warden of the prison. This gives them the authority to release the prisoners as well as bind more beings there. The warden can also communicate with the prisoners and find out more about them, although doing so can take a toll on their own mind and sanity.
Each captive is held in a crystal mound, through which their recumbent forms can be seen. The number of prisoners and the identity of most of them is not known, but they appear to be extremely powerful and dangerous. The spirit considers a white vampire to scarcely qualify; indeed, even naagloshii count among the least powerful captives, with six of them being held in the minimum security area, among other prisoners. Dresden appears to believe that even Mab can be held there, and neither she nor the spirit contradict him.. The spirit also states that Ethniu can be contained there.
The process of binding a new captive appears to require a circle, the captive's blood, a crystal from the island and an incantation, which serves to release a part of Demonreach's power, allowing it to fulfill its purpose. The ritual does not need to occur right on the island itself, but can also be effective if performed on the other shore of Lake Michigan. Not all captives are treated the same way; there are a variety of "protocols" that can be applied at the warden's discretion, including contemplation, torment and sleep-like stasis.
In the series
In Small Favor, the Denarians took Marcone and the Archive hostage and brought them to the island. Dresden, Michael, and Sanya go there with an agreement to trade eleven Coins and Fidelacchius for Ivy. The island feels familiar to Dresden, though he's never been there before. The trade turns into a rescue and chaos breaks out.
In Ghost Story, Harry Dresden's body is kept alive with the help of Queen Mab's power, Demonreach embedded vines into his body to feed him nutrients and the spirit entity growing in his brain who kept his blood flowing.
In Cold Days, Harry Dresden and Bob investigate the information provided by the Leanansidhe that the island will blow up in the following day or two, destroying a large chunk of the Midwest.[Footnote 1] In Demonreach's cottage, Bob admits that the magic he encounters is way above what he knows or what Dresden and all humanity can perform. The genius loci Demonreach guides the two of them underground, showing it as an enormous prison for magically powerful creatures, such as Naagloshii, dark gods and other ones. Dresden's body spent the previous year there, and the genius loci informs him that he's the warden of the place, with its responsibilities.
Dresden hosts a parasite in his head causing him headaches; it helped keep him alive while his spirit wandered. Its price was that Dresden not be told any details about it. Eventually it will burst out of his skull and kill him.
Maeve and Lily inform Dresden that Mab has gone mad and plans to unleash chaos on the world that night—Halloween. Dresden and his team try to determine who is casting the spell required to release the monsters, and should they be Outsiders, who let them into this world; while they can't lie, Maeve and Lily could be wrong.
Dresden leads the Wild Hunt, including the Erlking and Kringle, into battle with Outsiders on barges and numerous other boats led by He Who Walks Before along the shoreline of the island. They advance up the hill, until a strong Circle blocks them with a wall of deadly power. Being part of the Island's architecture, only Dresden manages to pass through. Inside, he finds Maeve and Lily trying to destroy Demonreach's spirit entity using the island's Circle of Power. Fix engages Dresden in battle, but is easily defeated by Dresden's use of Intellectus. They join forces to stop Maeve.
In Skin Game, Demonreach's spirit helps Harry Dresden in keeping his migraines under control, something increasingly difficult with the passing of time, and is jokingly nicknamed Alfred, after Batman's[Footnote 2] Alfred Pennyworth.[Footnote 3] The spirit appears unimpressed, but Dresden officially dubs it Alfred Demonreach.
Dresden also notes that he's much more familiar now with the Island's defenses and how to use them, and he would have no trouble defeating even Sharkface in a rematch, if it were held on the Island. Dresden becomes so comfortable on the Island that he forgets how spooky and hostile it normally seems to others, and wonders why his friends don't come visit often.
Harry settles on taking Thomas to Demonreach after breaking him out of captivity, as he believes Thomas will be hidden from tracking spells there. He travels to the island with Lara Raith, Karrin Murphy and Freydis Gard. Thomas is severely weakened when they arrive and his Hunger threatens to devour him, so Harry decides to imprison him temporarily as a way of putting him in stasis, until they find a way of restoring him. Lara misinterprets Harry's actions and attacks him, but with his intellectus and control of the island, Harry easily overcomes her and Freydis.
After the fight is resolved, Alfred appears and asks whether it should also imprison Lara. The sudden appearance makes Harry realize that he is not aware of the spirit's location or movements, and he considers the possibility that it may be hiding things from him.
Alfred comments on Ethniu's recent reappearance, and states that it would be able to hold her as long as Harry can perform the binding ritual from a close enough distance. Harry asks it to retrieve two of the items from from Hades' Vault, which he has stored on the island for safekeeping.
Word of Jim
- Turn Coat, ch. 36
- Skin Game, ch. 5
- Cold Days, ch. 17
- Small Favor, ch. 39
- Cold Days, ch. 16
- Peace Talks, ch. 34
- Small Favor, ch. 42
- Turn Coat, ch. 39
- Cold Days, ch. 15
- Turn Coat, ch. 44
- 2009 Independence book signing posted on the forum on May 18, 2009
- Cold Days, ch. 52
- Skin Game, ch. 1
- Peace Talks, ch. 35
- Cold Days, ch. 53
- Small Favor, ch. 42-45
- Ghost Story, ch. 50
- Cold Days, ch. 13
- Cold Days, ch. 24-25
- Cold Days, ch. 28
- Cold Days, ch. 42–45
- Cold Days, ch. 46
- Cold Days, ch. 47-49
- Cold Days, ch. 49-52
- Skin Game, ch. 20
- Peace Talks, ch. 3
- Cold Days, ch. 43