Several years ago I stumbled upon the first book in a series that seemed like it would mesh two of my favorite genres, the private detective story and the dark urban fantasy story, together into one perfect tale. That book was “Storm Front”, the first in a series titled “The Dresden Files” which were about Harry Dresden a wizard for hire in Chicago. I thought it was just all right, but I enjoyed it enough to seek out the second volume in the series “Fool Moon”. Again, that was just all right so I waited a little while to pick up the third book in the series, “Grave Peril.” “Grave Peril” was fantastic though and every book after has been a fun and incredibly compelling read. In fact, every year now I look forward to spring and a new Dresden Files novel. My yearly dose of Dresden usually ends up being one of my favorite reads of that year. That’s an incredible feat for an author to maintain especially, when you’re writing the twelfth book in a series. But with “Changes”, the latest novel of the “Dresden Files” Butcher not only does that, he turns in his best novel to date.
In “Changes”, Butcher puts his protagonist in a seemingly unwinable situation. The book begins with Harry finding out that the daughter he never knew he had is in the hands of the a high ranking noble in the Red Court of Vampires. The Red Court has been at war with the White Council of Wizards since the early stages of the series, and it was a war Dresden helped ignite. So “Changes” becomes Harry Dresden’s most personal and epic adventure, because he has to find a way to get his daughter back and put an end to the war.
To do this though, he’ll have to face a variety of insurmountable challenges and pay some steep prices. Butcher carefully chose the title of this novel. A lot of huge sweeping changes happen in this book. They’re all earned. Some will upset you and some will leave you astonished. It’s a testament to Butcher’s writing that you care that much. The novel ends with an amazing action set piece that will have you cheering one moment and heartbroken, the next. This is the equivalent of a spectacular television season finale. Lots of huge and epic things happen here.
The other reason why I love the “Dresden Files” books so much is the cast of characters. Harry Dresden is of course a unique and very likeable protagonist, but over the course of twelve novels Butcher has given Harry an amazing cast of allies, enemies, and some characters who are both. All of them appear here. This book particularly has some great developments for long time supporting cast member Karrin Murphy, a Chicago cop whose aware of the supernatural and has become one of Harry’s closest friends.
My only complaint about “Changes” is the ending. Not because it was bad, it was shocking well developed and earned. I was upset with it because I have to wait a year to find out what happens next. If you haven’t read a “Dresden Files” novel yet, I envy you. Go out and start at the beginning. The series reads like a combination of the best elements from the Harry Potter books and Joss Whedon’s TV series “Angel.” And if you’re a fan of the series who hasn’t read “Changes” yet, prepare yourself! Because it’s the best entry in an already stellar series.