• The Good: Harry’s up against all odds yet again, but this time it’s personal
  • The Bad: Pure pulp
  • The Literary: The formulaic plot takes a twist

A decade ago, Chicago’s down-on-his-luck wizard detective had a nice thing going with Susan Rodriguez, until she was attacked by vampires and partially turned into one. To escape the vampire court and her own blood lust, Susan disappeared to South America to fight for her humanity. In this 12th installment of The Dresden Files, Susan returns and reveals to Harry that they have a daughter, Maggie, who’s been kidnapped by a Red Court vampire.

Yes, you read that right. This is the 12th novel in this series, and according to the author, about the halfway point. Not many series can carry on that long, but this one manages to straddle the line between serialization and a hint of a long arc. The individual stories become predictably formulaic around book six or seven, but I enjoy Harry’s character enough to come back again and again. But now, I love to see the series take a left turn in the appropriately named Changes.

Harry’s always been serious about trying to fight bad guys and help protect the innocent, but it’s always been at arm’s length. It’s never been personal. Harry’s an orphan, and lives alone, and has a tendency towards noir cynicism to cover up his soft heart. When he discovers he has a daughter, he’s willing to do anything to save her and provide a life for her that he never had. He calls in a lot of favors and makes some terrible choices. If anything, this is Harry’s darkest moment.

The plot includes fun action scenes, complete with Harry getting knocked down pretty hard. Some old favorites stop by, including pint-sized police officer Karin, handsome half-brother and vampire Thomas, Toot Toot the fairy who prefers to be paid in pizza, and hell-hound Mouse, Harry’s dog, who even gets a speaking part in this installment.

Fantastic urban fantasy that keeps you on the edge of your seat with a protagonist who won’t stay down. The audiobook narrated by James Marsters keeps me coming back.