Changes (Dresden Files) by Jim Btcher
Remember I said I wasn't sure I was going to give a deeper review of CHANGES - Dresden Files #12. Well, I came across a book review that has a problem with it. Has a problem specifically with an issue of bonding and emotional intent, clan building and the sense of responsibility. And now I feel urged to say something, because it never occurred to me that people could find Harry's reactions in CHANGES to be unrealistic.
So Harry is told that he has a daughter, her name is Maggie (after his mother). And the truth is that yes, he knows she exists now, how old she is, that she was kidnapped. But it's also shown that he sees reflections of himself and Susan in the child's picture/features. And later there's commentary on things he shares in his features that he also shares with his brother. And to me, his relationship with his brother, builds upon Harry's Clan building.
He counts a vampire as BLOOD & FAMILY and even after Thomas faces horrifically amazing things and his efforts to not-be-a-monster are crushed, Harry still counts Thomas as family. Is still trying to get through.
AND THOMAS, also instantly attaches to the idea of Maggie as family and needing ALL OF HIS HELP.
I understand the concept of family like that. I left my home and my father, to spend time with my mother, despite the dangers, because she was pregnant - for the sake of an unborn child.
Also, what I loved in this book, was the gentle weaving of all of Harry's family ties. Him and his brother. Him and Molly. Molly & The Carpenters. He (Harry) & Ivy. Harry & Mouse. Harry & Mister. Harry & His Landlady. Etc... And Him, Molly & The Carpenters was a particularly deft touch, showing that perhaps the reason Harry couldn't see Molly's crush on him, was because he'd begun to treat her as a defacto daughter, as Clan, as family.
The next complaint was that Susan was manipulated in the end of the book. I agree with that complaint. I agree that Harry took advantage of Susan's precarious state, hoped that a deity somewhere would forgive him, and pulled the trigger to have Susan kill someone who'd betrayed them both, and render her the proper sacrifice to deal the death blow to all their enemies.
Another complaint was that because Harry countered Mab with the possibility of the Denarians, he was willing to save one little girl, at the expense of aligning himself with people who'd tortured another little girl. Which is something I didn't see. I saw it as him using potential bargaining chips. But the moment he considered and went to Mab - heck the moment he was harmed to the point he needed such great outside help, I knew he was preparing himself for the darkest possible stakes. He did not want to let his daughter down, did not want to leave her, as he'd been left with Justin. Did not want her to feel that everyone who could protect her was gone, as he'd felt when his father died. There was so much of him wanting to spare and protect his child, his child, that him even going if he had to, because things were so bad, to the Denarians - made sense. Even as I winced and sighed and shook my head and went 'oh Harry - there has to be another way'.
The OP went on to describe her own relationship with her estranged father and how that affects her disbelief that one minute Harry doesn't know he has a child, the next he does and he's willing to throw away all his scruples in order to save her. And I find myself thinking this is a case of something not working for that particular reader. Because it all made PREFECT sense to me. Maggie is a child. A female child. Harry's female child. Who's been swept up by his enemies (and those of her mother as well) to be used as a pawn in a world of monsters and dangers no child should ever have to face. If that doesn't just reach inside Harry's head and flick in the beserker button, I have no idea what would.
I found myself thinking that the OP didn't understand that while it very much WAS about Maggie. It was also a goodly 80% WASN'T. It was about HARRY, who he was, what mattered to him, what he felt bound to protect. In that way, Maggie was something of a symbol; of his childhood, of his mother's attempts to protect him and Thomas, of as is revealed - his grandfather's attempts to protect him, of his own father's attempts to protect him. Maggie is both who he was as a child, and her own person - who he realized he will never get to know. She will never know who saved her, who came for her, who sacrificed for her and what they sacrificed, and that doesn't matter.
Turns out the OP did recognize that, but just doesn't believe that even so close a mirror reflection is enough to drive Harry to such desperation, just as the OP does not seem to believe the circumstances as spun were such to -drive- him to such desperation.
The OP points out that no one tels Harry that he doesn't have a relationship with this child, and that his passionate, devoted response is, to the OP's mind, unrealistic. I'm not sure that any of Harry's true friends would need to point that out to Harry. Some, perhaps, are surprised the he's not planning on keeping her. But I didn't see it as a function of 'This is how parents are - they find out they have a child and it's insta-bond'. I saw it as a function of 'This is who HARRY DRESDEN IS'. If he goes to so much trouble for strangers, just because it's the right thing to do, how much more would he do for his own flesh and blood, especially since the chance he's given is one where he HAS to save her, vs just get to know her.
It was all very Harry Dresden to me. There were people telling him to calm down and get himself together and stop acting so frantic and disjointed. But there was also a lot of past trauma and mental history stirred up by the situation. And a lot of fear.