Changes (Book 12)
If you are new to the Dresden Files and this is the first book you pick up in the series, put it down. I’ll wait.
Now, you didn’t just put this book down because it’s bad in any way (at all). You put it down because far too many Very Important Things happen in this book and the last thing anyone wants is that kind of precognition.
After reading this book, I want to find a way to meet Jim Butcher so that I can shake his hand because, you guys, I don’t know how he did it, but Jesus H. Christ this book is the absolute pinnacle of the whole damn series. (With the disclaimer that I’m starting Ghost Story tonight…as in right after I’m done writing this because I NEED TO KNOW.) I’m gushing. I know, but once you read this book, you’ll not only understand, but you’ll want to gush with me.
Arianna Ortega (as in the wife of the Duke who Dresden duels in Death Masks) has kidnapped Dresden’s daughter. That’s right; apparently when he and Susan had relations of the biblical variety an adorable little girl named Maggie was the result. Susan sweeps into town with Martin, a fellow half-blood, and ask Dresden to a) cope with the fact that he has a kid and no one told him about it and b) figure out a means of getting her back from the vampires unharmed.
In previous books, Butcher showed an astounding ability to keep an absurd number of things in the air at the same time, but it was always within each book. Though this book isn’t the end of the series, it ties so many loose ends up. You will get to learn so many things that will absolutely make you nerd out about the series. I can’t even tell you how amazed I am at this book. It is by far the best book in the whole series, hands down, no contest. I’m floored. It’s a masterpiece.
For the good guys in this book, half the time my heart was breaking for them. I’ve never been fond of the concept of the archetypal martyr, but it’s the primary archetype that comes to mind when I think of the good guys in this book. It feels like literally everyone is willing to lay their life down to help Dresden save Maggie, including (and perhaps most intensely) Dresden. Murphy, Sanya, Molly, Thomas, Mouse, Susan, and Martin all wade into a battle that they should by no means have a chance at winning, just so that Dresden can get to Maggie. The altruism encapsulated in this book is starkly moving. You see people shove themselves to their very limit, or agree to do things that they would normally refuse, just so this eight year old girl gets a shot at life. If anyone other than Butcher where writing the characters and the circumstances, I would wave it away as petty sentimentalism. Butcher, however, crafts it into something you have to watch unfold because you need to know what happens to the good guys. Which is what makes the f*@% yeah moments that much more impactful. It’s f*@%king fantastic.
I have one last thing to say about this book. Butcher does such an amazing job of making his characters human. I can’t give you any details about exactly what I’m talking about, but I will say this: Butcher takes something that could have been gruesome and horrible to read about and he made it into poetry (not literally). He takes a moment filled with such anguish and imbues it with that hint of humanity to the point where you have to sit and bear witness because moments like this, in real life or fiction, are the true nature of what it means to be human. If you’re a Doctor Who fan you know what I’m talking about. The things that make life worth living, laughter, love, friendship, and courage are all so valuable because of the pain and anguish that exists in the world. What’s incredible is that Butcher gives you that moment, that encapsulates everything I just said, and he does it without you even noticing. He just shows it to you and then moves on. It isn’t sentimentality. It’s artful.
This book gets 5 ink bottles and whatever nibs are rolling around in the drawer because there isn’t a measurement sufficiently large to encapsulate how amazing it is. Seriously.