My rating: ★★★★☆
Read From: 7 June 2014 -10 June 2014
Quite often, Jim Butcher uses a Dresden Files novel to either introduce a specific type of supernatural character or tell a specific type of story. In Skin Game, Butcher tells a heist story.
Harry Dresden’s spent the last year living on his magical island, Demonreach. He’s been forced to stay there because of the magical parasite in his brain. It’s been giving him incapacitating headaches and will soon kill him, as it continues to grow. Demonreach’s caretaker has been suppressing the parasite. But that’s only a partial solution and it looks like Dresden has only a few days left before the parasite finally rips free, killing him.
That’s when Mab, the Winter Queen, shows up offering Dresden a deal. She’ll help him deal with the parasite. But first she’s going to use him (as the Winter Knight) to pay off a favor that she owes Anduriel, the Fallen angel possessing Nicodemus Archleone. Dresden has to help Nick, one of his worst enemies, rob the vault of Hades, Lord of the Underworld.
Mab will kill Harry if he doesn’t follow her orders and help Nicodemus. Nick will try to kill Harry as soon as he doesn’t have a use for him any more. And Hades will kill them all, if he discovers their plan to rob him. Whichever way you look at it, Harry’s going to have a hard time saving his skin and living with himself afterwards.
If you’re already a fan of the Dresden Files, you should definitely read Skin Game. Butcher’s added another solid story to the series. The humor and one-liners are there. So is Dresden’s self-doubt and fear of turning into a monster. Dresden’s reactions and fears are very realistic, especially his feelings regarding the safety of his friends and family.
Best of all, Butcher succeeds at making his world feel real. This story is impacted by most of the previous stories in the series. Dresden’s decisions continue to have rippling consequences and previously minor characters return to become focal characters. Everything is built on what came before it, in a way that feels natural and inevitable.
You could read this novel as a standalone story but it is very much richer when read in the context of the entire series. Butcher does a great job of rewarding his fans for being fans and for being invested in the series.