by Jesus Ibarra
Details on how to enter to win a copy of Skin Game at the end of this review along with a link to purchase the book from Mysterious Galaxy, with a portion going to help support KRL.
Skin Game, the fifteenth book in the Dresden Files, is a heist book. Still acting as Winter Knight for Mab (the Queen of the Winter Fae) tasks him with helping Nicodemus (one of his most hated enemies and a fallen angel) break into the vault of the Greek god Hades to retrieve the Holy Grail. However, as always the case with the Fae everything is not as it seems and Harry has to figure out the real game Mab has him playing before Nicodemus stabs him in the back.
This book is very much a return to form to the style before the world changing events that started in Changes and continued to Cold Days. And the Denarians return who are always fun because they are so deliciously evil since they are fallen angels. They also give Harry am outwardly antagonist that is more traditionally evil than those he has faced in the last couple of books.
Butcher again took a little more time with this book so it doesn’t suffer in regards to the actual writing. The prose, editing, pacing, and plotting are all top notch. It was tightly knit from beginning to end and I could not put it down. This will definitely go down as one of his best case file books which deals more with Harry taking a job instead of just saving the world.
I was a little disappointed with the lack of Molly, although its explained in the book, considering what happened to her at the end of Cold Days was such a big deal not just for her as a character but her relationships with everyone, especially Harry.
Most of the fan favorite characters return: Butters, Karin Murphy, the Carpenters (Michael YAY), Bob, and if the Denarians are involved Uriel has to make an appearance. I really have to say that I have missed Michael Carpenter as a character. In so many ways, he is the man Harry strives to be but is much more righteous and not so grey morally speaking compared to Harry. So having him be back in Harry’s life was a treat. Michael and his wife Charity also have a tremendous amount of “eff yeah” moments that were cool. There is also movement on the Karin and Harry front, which I really have no opinion on. I am not a shipper of these two but I know many readers are so this is fantastic news for them. Maggie, Harry’s daughter, also makes an appearance and although I still don’t like her since she was really created as this big McGuffin in Changes I thought her interactions with Harry were sweet.
The White Council is again nonexistent; we get a passing mention about what is their status but nothing concrete on how it affects Harry. I expect we will see more of them in the next book considering that Harry came back from the dead and is now Winter Knight. I also thought it was very creative of Jim Butcher to stall the momentum of Harry’s world by having him stay on the island Demonreach for most of the year time jump that happens away from everyone. And the reason this happens is a pivotal moment in the book and is one of my favorite moments. If you have been playing close attention to Harry since the introduction of the Denarians you will easily figure this plot point out and it is such a treat for long time hardcore Dresden readers. All the characterizations and interactions are back. He even named the spirit of Demonreach Alfred, which had me chuckling.
Another plot development that I’m enjoying is how in the series there is more and more talk about how the mantles of power you have change you into those beings erasing who you are. For example, Harry is the Winter Knight so soon he will become more Winter Knight because that mantle will change Harry. He won’t be Harry he will just be the Winter Knight. This brings me to my only real critique of the novel, which is Harry regresses as a character a bit towards the middle of the story. Ever since Harry became Winter Knight he has worried about becoming a monster, hell Ghost Story was all about exploring who Harry is and how he affected the world around him. In Cold Days given what he finds out about the Winter Fae he understands the power he has even though he resolves not too let it consume him. Yet in the middle of this book he turns into a whiney dude who needs a pep talk from Michael. The pep talk was awesome, but I feel like this is just retreading Harry’s existential crisis again after it has been dealt with to a degree. I certainly like to have Harry reflect on how being Winter Knight is changing him, but I don’t think it should be a large chunk of the book again.
There are also some dangling plot threads which will be fun to see how they play out. Overall Skin Game is another fantastic addition to the Dresden Files that will certainly satisfy long time readers.
To enter to win a copy of Skin Game simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Skin,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 14, 2014. U.S. residents only.
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Use this link to purchase Skin Game from Indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy: