Changes, book twelve of The Dresden Files by #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher, returns us to the world of one Harry Dresden, wizarding private eye. In his life, Harry has faced down ghouls and faeries, vampires and werewolves, demons and nightmares from beyond mortal ken—and didn’t bat an eye. However, nothing could have prepared him for what awaits him in Changes.
Susan Rodriguez, Harry’s former lover, disappeared from his life after she fell victim to one of his enemies and her soul became trapped between her humanity and the bloodlust of a Red Court vampire. Now, she’s forcing herself back into his life, bearing disturbing news. For Susan has a secret—a secret that Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered and plans to use against the man she blames for the death of her husband: Harry Dresden. This is a fight that will take Harry out of his comfort zone, and a fight that will force him up to the line—and then over it as he lays it all out to protect himself and those he holds dear.
The most unpredictable plot yet
The Dresden Files novels have been subject to some damn twisty plots in their time. However, everything in the past pales in comparison to Changes. Not only has Butcher matured as a writer and his craft has improved so much since Storm Front, but Harry himself has grown, gotten smarter—and he’s just starting to show it in-text. So you don’t just have the big bads pulling their usual plot twists, but you also have Harry himself doing things that you’re not really acclimated to him doing just yet. And beyond that, Jim continues his trend of pulling things from the previous novels and tying them all together in Changes.
World building and world smashing
Like any novel of The Dresden Files, Changes has its fair share of world building. The Red Court is an obvious focus, and the reader gets some very detailed glimpses into the sociopolitical hierarchy of the Court. A couple of the names that have been tossed around the series in books past get actual screen time in Changes, not the least of which is Vadderung.
Oh, and remember the Erlking? Yeah, he’s there, too.
But beyond the world building, Changes is all about…well, the changes. It’s Jim Butcher getting to put on the Godzilla suit and go smashing about through model Tokyo. And smash, he does. For as Harry goes through his preparations and investigations, his world begins to be destroyed around him. It’s all to build up to the climax at the end of the novel—and it works like a charm. Jim tears Harry’s world to teensy little bits right in front of his readers, truly giving weight to the title of the novel. This installment of The Dresden Files really is all about changes and coping with said changes, and it doesn’t let up on that theme for the entirety of the novel.
Turn the moral ambiguity up to eleven
In previous novels, we’ve seen Harry consciously block himself off from the temptation of powers dark and terrible. He knows that there are lines that he simply cannot cross. However, in Changes, all of that gets kicked out of the window and incinerated on the way down. Harry has found a cause for which he doesn’t care what happens, he will cross every line necessary to see this thing through to the end. And crossing lines he does, all with an “if the world burns, we’ll roast marshmallows” mentality.
This is such a break from the Harry we’ve seen throughout the rest of the series that it stands to reason the change would be jarring to a reader. However, this is not the case, not by a long shot. We all have our weak points, those places where we are at our most vulnerable—and our most passionate, no holds barred. It’s a very human place in which Butcher puts Harry, and one that’s totally believable and adds yet more layers to Harry’s humanity and character.
Jim Butcher broke my brain
For those of you who read Changes on the day it came out—or any day between its release and Ghost Story‘s release date—you know of what I speak. That freaking ending. For those of you who don’t know, if you haven’t read Changes yet, be certain to have a copy of Ghost Story on hand to begin immediately after finishing Changes. Because there is such a cliffhanger in this novel that it reduced me to a gibbering idiot for at least forty-five minutes. I simply could not wrap my brain around what had happened in the last bit of the novel.
Why should you read this book?
If this is the first Dresden Files book you’ve picked up, I recommend starting elsewhere. While Changes can stand on its own, a lot of the subtleties of the series will be missed if you start the story here. If you’ve read all of Harry’s case files up to this point, you need to read this book. Read it for the action. Read it for the adventure. But more than that, read it for the journey. For, with Changes, Butcher has crafted an epic story about finding the power within yourself to do what must be done in spite of the obstacles in your path.