1/07/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Orbit. 438 page hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-713-6.
check out websites: www.orbitbooks.net and www.jim-butcher.com
Harry Dresden's been under pressure before. He's developed his skill, built up his allies and made some serious enemies.
It looks like all his chickens have come home to be roasted. He has one super big bad foe and she has found the right button to push. Family. It will be the death of Harry. He's been short of family through all the previous eleven books. Gradually, he's found out why and even acquired and lost a half-brother who's wholly vampire, gone beastly. He's got his surrogate Molly who he is bound to protect as his apprentice. Then there's his not quite sister-in-arms, Sergeant Karrin Murphy. There are family pets, too, the powerful Foo dog, Mouse and not-so scaredy cat, Mister. Even Bob-in-the-skull feels like a pal and is always useful in a fight. But his ex-love, Susan Rodriguez, is back in town and she's got news. The good: he's a dad of an eight year-old called Maggie. The bad: Arianna, the Red Court Queen is planning something awful and it's not a family party. There's no time to think about planning a family reunion as Arrianna wants to sacrifice Maggie and create a blood curse.
Now might be a good time to call on the one family member Harry has. She is a fairy godmother after all. But like most families, nothing comes without a price. Godmum is no Tinkerbell and her 'employer', Queen Mab of the fey, doesn't do luncheon vouchers.
'Changes' moves easily from modern America to the dark underside of the Faerie and back again. Not quite helpless, Harry is a klutz in everything but magic. He wants to do good and his thoughtful ponderings make sense of a series of characters and events. The text is richly embroidered with extensive disruption including the environment, action sequences, dialogue and personalities.
Jim Butcher is completely at home with his already familiar characters and skilfully moves them into place for a quite stunning and moving finale and if you are relaxing a bit at the end, a shocking final page.
This felt like a novel that had something to get my teeth into. So many fantasy novels are lazily put together but here, at least, I felt I was getting bang for my buck. There are some great moments in this and despite being new to the party, I didn't feel like a wallflower. Long-time fans may have other opinions but I found it a refreshing change from the other books that mine the faerie factory. Hope there is more to come from Harry.
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