Changes by Jim Butcher
This is the latest release in The Dresden Files series and originally, I was going to wait until it came out in paperback. But then people started talking about it online and Amazon had the hardcover for $9.99 so I decided against waiting.
It seems like in the last few novels especially, Harry has faced harder and harder challenges that require more sacrifices. Butcher is definitely upping the stakes as more characters that the reader actually knows and cares about have either died or been severely incapacitated in the last few novels. As the title suggests, this novel completely shakes up Harry's world. The very first line involves him receiving a call from his long lost half vampire ex-girlfriend alerting him that the daughter whose existence he didn't even know about had been kidnapped.
In ways, the novel reminded me of the season finale, Becoming, Parts 1 and 2, of Buffy's second season. Everything that is familiar to Harry is slowly stripped away. One of my favorite lines from Buffy (in addition to all the funny, super quotable quips, of course) was during the show-down when Angel asks/taunts, "No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away and what's left?" Of course, Buffy stops the sword between her hands, pops Angel in the nose with it and replies "Me." Anyway, as Harry's world crashes around him, it definitely made me think of that. Of course, in Harry's case, he still has his friends but all the structured support that has been a constant in his life (not necessarily that they have always been helpful) becomes completely useless to him.
It quickly turns out that Harry's daughter is caught in the midst of the Red Court's headquarters. While the Red Court is petioning the White Council for a peace treatise, Harry's daughter is about to become one of the last casualities of the war. Harry and his friends do not trust the Court's motive for peace but the Council is tired of war and willing to hear them out, even at the expense of a seven year old girl (Harry, of course, wants to keep his connection to her secret for her future safety).
Given the lack of support from the Council, Harry ends up accepting an offer he has had for a while now but has not wanted to resort to, all in the name of saving his daughter. I can't wait to see how these consequences will play out in future novels, especially given the cliffhanger Butcher ended this novel on - this is the first time I have actually been completely caught up on the series so I didn't have the option of simply going to the store and buying the next installment, not that any of the previous ones have had quite such an open ending.