I love Harry Dresden like he’s the crazy scary magical uncle I never had. My wife (The Asian OverLord™) gets annoyed at my exclamations of “Hell’s Bells!” and my constant need to tell people that a scar on my hand came from “Hell Fire” rather than a childhood bicycle wreck. The Dresden Files have become a part of my life in a way that few stories do.
When I first learned about Changes, it frightened me. I thought to myself: if Jim Butcher “Changes” too much, I will be forced to follow him around conventions until he promises to change it back, or send him e-mails filled with frowny faces. I don’t like it when the creator of something I enjoy takes drastic measures for the sake of being “fresh.” Fortunately for Mr. Butcher, Changes shakes a lot of things up, but does so without losing sight of what makes these stories so great. This novel does bring some serious “Changes” to the Dresden universe, but they feel justified. Harry is still funny, still finding his way out of tight jams, still surrounded by people he loves, and still tries to always do the right thing.
In Changes, Harry is once again at odds with the Red Court Vampires. They have taken a loved one hostage in a power play that puts in motion events that jeopardize the unstable peace between the vampires and the white council. Over the years the cast of The Dresden Files has grown quite large and in Changes it seems that they all play a role in one way or another. Butcher manages to juggle the massive cast without it feeling like fan service, and more like it’s what the situation actually requires. When Harry calls out the troops, just about everyone shows up. Even Susan makes a return and provides some good ol’fashioned relationship tension to the story.
I’m happy to report that in Changes, Butcher assumes you’ve read the previous books. Thus, there isn’t any tedious recapping of previous installments — he only recaps events which occurred far back enough that even old fans may have forgotten. Be prepared to have quite a bit of the old familiar rearranged in this book. The funny one-liners and humorous situations are still here, but the tone and plot are darker and more dramatic.
Changes is available unabridged from Penguin Audio. James Marsters returns as the voice of Harry Dresden and gives another perfect performance. Changes is an emotional roller coaster and the vocal challenges for Marsters must have been great. The anger, deep sadness, and stubborn resolve come through flawlessly. Marsters is once again brilliant. I judge all other audiobook performances against The Dresden Files.
In conclusion, Changes does just what the title suggests. Fans of the series will look back on this book and remember it as a pivotal moment in the story of Harry Dresden — these events will have a lasting impact. Changes is darker and more serious, and contains some of the most powerful scenes Butcher has ever written. I dare not ruin it by sharing them here, but you will laugh, cry, and often scream at this newest Dresden Files book. I cannot recommend The Dresden Files enough, and if you have not started them yet… you need to get busy!