Review: Changes, by Jim Butcher

by Jim Butcher

Product Description (from
Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden’s lover-until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.

Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it-against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power. Because Harry’s not fighting to save the world…

He’s fighting to save his child.

My Thoughts:
It’s been a long time since I spent any time with Harry Dresden. I bought this book in April of 2010, when it was new, and it’s been sitting on my nightstand since then – nearly THREE YEARS – not because I wasn’t interested, but because my to-be-read stack was so high.

During the first week or two of January, however, I took a break from my to-be-reviewed queue (which I’m mostly caught up with) and read a lot of escapist fiction – stuff I actually bought, stuff that was exactly what I needed after having NINE PEOPLE in my house for ten days over Christmas.

Changes did not disappoint. I found myself slipping back into Harry Dresden’s always stormy, often violent life very easily. There were a few characters I didn’t remember as well as I should have, but for the most part I was familiar with Molly (Harry’s apprentice), Karrin Murphy (bad ass cop), and Bob the Spirit in the Skull.

As to the story…it’s a mindblowing whirlwind of, well, changes. Harry finds out he’s a father, finds out his daughter is being held by the queen of the Red Court (a group of vampires that holds far too much underworld – and real world – power), finds out the Red Court is about to go all out in political and physical assault against the White Council of wizards, etc. etc.

The end, of course, involves the biggest change of all, but there’s no way to even hint at it without spoiling the story.

Suffice to say that Changes represents Jim Butcher at his best and Harry Dresden at his most base, raw self.

It is sheer awesomeness, cloaked in the form of a book.

Goes well with hot chocolate and peppermint taffy.

Blood Rites

Another visit to the life of professional wizard Harry Dresden, this time finds him trying to protect the women involved with an erotic filmmaker from an entropy curse. There are hints of sex, of course, and seduction, and Harry, being human, can’t help but react, but really this is not a novel about sex as much as it is about family and willpower.

Family? Oh yeah, Harry finds some in an unexpected place.

As usual there are two plots, tightly intertwined. The “B” plot has to do with a rogue vampire trying to kill Harry. Kincaid, the body guard from book 5, makes a repeat appearance in this novel.

Oh, yeah, and Harry acquires a dog.

Death Masks

by Jim Butcher

A visit to Harry Dresden’s Chicago is like putting on the perfect pair of faded jeans. You know the denim is old, and you know the seat’s about to rip out, but you just don’t care, because they make you happy. These books are the same way: you know that Harry’s going to take a beating, and you know there’s going to be financial angst and lots of mayhem, but Harry is such a likable fellow, and the writing is just so real, that even if you’re the type who cringes whenever the hero takes a punch, you keep reading.

In this installment, we find Harry chasing after the shroud of Turin. No, I’m not kidding. Along the way, of course, there are demons and mafiosos to deal with and oh, did we mention that one of the Vampire Courts is trying to engage him in a duel that will trigger the all-out final battle between the vamps and the White Council.

Oh, and then there’s the fact that Susan, the almost-vamp lover Harry still pines for is not only back, but in the thick of the action.

At this point, such rock-and-hard-place situations should be no surprise.

It should also be no surprise that this book is completely riveting, and great fun.

Fool Moon

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, Book 2) by Jim Butcher

Book Two of Jim Butcher’s fantasy/mystery series The Dresden Files mixing it up with werewolves, of which, we learn from Bob (the spirit in the skull) there are many different kinds. Butcher’s novels are designed so that readers who follow the series in order will pick up the continuing relationships between the characters, but so that they can be read as stand-alone stories as well – which is my wordy way of saying that there was enough introduction included to make sure that new readers knew who everyone was, but not so much that it felt at all repetitive.

With the eponymous television series now in its seventh week on the Sci-Fi channel (here in the States, and on Space, I think, in Canada) comparisons are inevitable, but while the feel of the series is sort of “cozy paranormal” the books retain a much more classic detective novel tone, with strong secondary characters like local crime lord John Marcone offering a surprising amount of depth and personality.

Harry, of course, is our main focus, and in this novel we see just how fragile his friendship with cop Karrin Murphy really is, and get a little bit better knowledge of his on-again off-again romance with Arcane reporter Susan.

The action and exposition nicely balance each other, and over all the story does what Jim Butcher does best: entertains, and leaves us wanting more.

Storm Front

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1)

Storm Front

* * * * *

Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a detective named after three magicians, which is appropriate, since he’s a wizard. Storm Front, the first novel in The Dresden Files, introduces us to Harry, who is a little bit snarky, a little bit romantic, and more than a little bit of a gentleman, despite his lack of finances.

The mystery is interesting, with a good balance of action and exposition, and the world – an alternative Chicago – is just enough like our own that it’s believable.

The overall tone? Sara Paretsky meets the Supernatural. I’m eager to read the rest of the series.