Skin Game (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher

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Skin Game (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Jim Butcher's urban wizard, reluctant Winter Knight and ex-PI Harry Dresden is back. In book 15 he's in the middle of a heist on the wrong side of good. JB's writing, on the other hand, shows no signs of slipping standards. Great stuff!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0356500904

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Spoiler Alert: Herein are spoilers for previous Dresden file books, although not this one.

Harry Dresden is and has been a lot of things: the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, PI, reluctant Knight of the Winter Court, even apparently dead. Now it looks as though he's about to relive the death bit but a bit more permanently. The parasite in his brain is still killing him while he's stranded as warden on the island penal colony of Demonreach. Hold tight though – the good news is that he's about to be liberated. The bad? The liberator is Queen Mab who wants Harry to do a bit of robbery beside a former arch enemy of his. If he refuses, the parasite will kill him and then slope off to kill everyone he knows and cares about, including his little daughter Maggie. However, nothing is simple, even this. There are catches, hell's bells there are!

Normally most fantasy authors fall into formulaic writing by book 4 or 5 of a series. By the time they reach book 6 they're spending as much time describing food and clothing as action and the characters seem to be revisiting old plots with little personal growth. By this measure Jim Butcher doesn't appear to be normal. The American martial arts hobbyist and fierce dog owner brought us what he called his three episode mid-series epic with books 12 to 14 (Changes, Ghost Story and Cold Days) and now Harry emerges changed and still developing in this, Dresden #15.

He may be changing as a person, but he's still caught between a rock and a very hard place indeed having to serve Queen Mab's interests as well as his own. This time there's a further element of difficulty as he has to work with Nicodemus Archelone. We last saw 'Old Nick' in Small Favour as he escaped being throttled by Harry with Judas Iscariot's noose. Don't be misled though: he hasn't softened towards Harry following that encounter, but the stakes are so high that needs must, although he does build in an insurance policy to capture Harry's attention.

On the goodies' side, Harry not only works with Karrin again (will they or won't they?!) but a couple of my other old favourites are back. Firstly Michael, the Knight of the Sword and now foster parent to Harry's daughter, does more than counsel our hero. Secondly, Waldo Butters, ME, not only gets a mention; he steps front and centre for the ride of his life. Butters is now custodian of Bob the skull; I shall say no more!

Although there's breakneck action and some wonderful monsters (and the grossest creepy crawly scene since Mr Butcher stopped writing about the Vord), it's not all bash and crash. Harry is evaluating his life and achievements (or lack of in his eyes) and the evil he feels he's unleashed. We know he had reasons to kill Susan (the woman he really loved and had a child with) but he's having trouble remembering them, let alone reconciling. He also fears he's sinking more deeply into the Winter Knight's proclivities… not good! (Talking of which, there's a great theory in this novel about his Knight strength.)

Indeedy, this is definitely a crowd pleaser that's been well worth waiting for. It's wonderfully escapist, fun, exciting and the perfect antidote to life, the universe and everything. Heck it even sets us up nicely for Dresden #16 Peace Talks, the wait for which will definitely test our patience.

A huge thank you to Orbit for providing us with a copy for review.

Further Reading: If you've never read a Harry Dresden before, a good place to start is that previously mentioned triumvirate Changes, Ghost Story and Cold Days. If you're a Butcher/Dresden follower already, we recommend some of the other great urban fantasy around at the moment from writers like Benedict Jacka, Jaye Wells and Kate Griffin.

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Buy Skin Game (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Skin Game (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher at


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