Review of CHANGES by Jim Butcher
A NOVEL OF THE DRESDEN FILES
Roc, April 2010
Calls from ex-girlfriend Susan are never good news for wizard Harry Dresden, but this time she drops a bombshell. His daughter has been kidnapped by the vampires of the Red Court. That would be bad news under any circumstances but the news is complicated by the fact that Susan never let Harry know he had a daughter. With the Red Court currently pushing for a truce with the White Council of wizards, Harry is on his own.
He may be shocked to learn he has a daughter, but Harry has to deal with it. To save his daughter, he realizes he's willing to make decisions, compromises, sacrifices he would never make to save his life. And one of those involves asking for help from the Fae winter court. He's resisted their offers, insisted on being his own man, but his independence means nothing compared to the life of his daughter. Still, what help they can offer seems inadequate compared to the power of thousands of vampires, vampires who virtually rule South and Central America.
Although Harry thinks he'll be on his own, his friends don't see it that way. Although his cop-friend Murphy may lose her job if she helps, she won't let him go alone. Nor will his half-brother/vampire, Thomas, or his apprentice, Molly. Of course Susan and her dubious sidekick, Martin are coming along. But getting there is half the challenge. Because Arianna, princess of the Red Court, has every intention of stopping him before he can arrive at Chichen Itza where his daughter's sacrifice is on schedule. The vampire assassins she's sent to stop him aren't particularly effective, but they are powerful and persistent.
Author Jim Butcher (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of fantasy by Butcher) continues his Dresden Files series with a story that really does lead to CHANGES. Harry's relationship with Susan, with Murphy, with Molly, and especially with the Winter Court and his 'godmother' all evolve as he adjusts his priorities toward saving his daughter. A father should do what he needs to do to save his daughter, especially from a band of vampires who intend to use her in a blood sacrifice, but Harry crosses lines he's never crossed before.
The Dresden Files series has always been a bit dark. Survival means making compromises, acknowledging that evil cannot be defeated, recognizing that ancient gods have far more power than any mortal and that confronting them is an act of simultaneous folly and hubris. CHANGES escalates this darkness. This isn't a light story. Harry becomes less likable even as he fights to save his daughter. The resolution to the battle with the Red Court is particularly painful.
A frequent problem with long-running series is that the story doesn't really move forward, that a reader could have skipped a volume without really missing much. That certainly is not the case for CHANGES. Harry and everyone around him is changed. I doubt that Molly will ever again be the light and fun person she was. as for Harry...well, that would be a spoiler but certainly he's put himself in a position where his life can never be the same. Fans of the series will want to read this one, even if it leaves them, like me, feeling more than a bit uncomfortable. Then again, easy answers so often are not answers at all.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to email@example.com. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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