The Dresden Files book 15
A review by Nalini Haynes
- Publisher: Orbit
- ISBN: 9780356500904
- Size: expected size is 464 pages
- Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5
Harry Dresden is a wizard. Think Harry Potter but all grown up, a bit of a loner who’s loyal to his friends and mouthy to authority figures. He’s accident prone, especially when taking on the bad guys. My favourite opening line from this series of books is “The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault” (Blood Rites), which says it all.
In Skin Game Jim Butcher is at the top of his form for writing urban fantasy with attitude, laughs, pop culture references and an engaging plot. The first few pages alone had quotes that simply must be read aloud to any vulnerable audience:
I was running through long tunnels filled with demons and monsters and nightmares, because it was easier than going to the gym.
When there’s a Great White Shark in the water with you, it’s tough to be worried about a couple of barracuda swimming along behind her.
And so on.
Dresden became the Winter Knight, servant of Mab, queen of the Winter fae, in a previous novel. This was a bargain he never meant to fulfill, having arranged for his own death before Winter’s power could corrupt him. Now he’s been brought back to life, he has a parasite in his head giving him migraines and a boss who will help him – if Harry performs a minor service for her first. Like breaking into Hades’ vault as the henchman of an old enemy. The usual.
I think I’m scarred for life after imagining damage to art and religious artefacts in Skin Game; after finishing the novel, I dreamt I was personally responsible for repairing the damage to these artefacts and fixing the mess the government budget was about to wreak upon Australia.
Whenever dealing with the fae, readers expect twisty plots and deviousness from the fae and from Dresden. A few of these twists revealed surprising panoramas, preparing readers for the next volume or three in the series.
Dresden’s attitude to women leaves me feeling ambivalent. Every woman with the exception of Mab, Charity (Michael’s wife) and Maggie (Dresden’s daughter) seems to be a potential sexual partner. Dresden lusts after them, detailing sexual fantasies and potential for seduction. Harry’s redeeming quality is that he says he wants more than just sexual release, he wants a relationship.
Although Skin Game is book 15, I think you could read it without the previous novels if you don’t mind jumping in midstream. There are lots of references to previous stories and fan-services as beloved characters are remembered or walk on stage but Butcher gives good background for these without boring readers who’ve followed Harry’s career.
The Dresden Files has been a rollercoaster ride to date. Skin Game is definitely a high point on that rollercoaster, leaving me anticipating the completion of the current story arc. I loved the return of Mouse, Mister and Michael. Fans will cheer at the ‘copyright infringement’ to which Dresden refers during the finale. Skin Game is highly recommended for Dresden fans, fans of urban fantasy and fans of pop culture references. Skin Game is light, fast and fun.