Harry Dresden is feeling pretty low. He’s basically indentured to Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness. His friends won’t come see him on his creepy island. Plus he has some bad headaches, that are probably about to kill him.
In fact, Harry’s not even sure if he’s one of the good guys anymore. He wonders if his bad choices have put him beyond saving.
That’s when a friend tells him: “You wouldn’t be twisting yourself into knots like this, Harry, if you didn’t care….Monsters don’t care….The damned don’t care, Harry. The only way to go beyond redemption is to choose to take yourself there. The only way is to stop caring.”
This was a perfect week for me to read Skin Game. I managed to make two huge mistakes (one professional, one personal) in the course of 5 days, and while they may not be in the same league as committing vampire genocide, abandoning a daughter, and making deals with the Fae, I was not feeling too great about myself, and I was looking to Harry Dresden to show me how to keep going.
One of the strengths of the Dresden Files series, and Skin Game in particular, is that Harry, as well as Murphy, Molly, and others on Team Dresden, do falter and make mistakes, and there are always real consequences. But they care about doing the right thing, they accept the consequences, and they have faith–in themselves, their friends, even in God–that everything will work out. They keep fighting for some small bit of good, in whatever way they can.
But now I’m making this book sound all serious–pay no attention, because it will actually have you laughing out loud all the way through. It is just an enjoyable read from start to finish.
Skin Game, as you may already know, is basically a heist story. Harry is on loan from Mab to Nicodemus, who’s collecting a crew to steal a powerful artifact from the Nevernever vault of Hades (yes, that Hades). I loved getting a wider view of the supernatural criminal underworld–“grey” characters are my favorite, and there’s many to be had here, both new and familiar faces.
The plot does get a little convoluted, keeping track of who’s backstabbing whom, but that’s also half the fun. There are also two instances where Butcher misleads readers by withholding information, a tactic he has used before regarding Harry’s “death” and his deal with Mab. I did not think these two uses were as effective as that previous one, but they did keep the story interesting and moving.
Oh, and those Star Wars references I mentioned before? Be prepared for a whole new level of awesomeness on that front.
I can’t think of another series that carries a story for fifteen books and is still going so strong that I can’t wait for the next one. I don’t know if Jim Butcher had a plan when he started, but at this point he absolutely knows what he’s doing. Even people who hated the direction taken with Changes may appreciate this installment, as we get Harry back in Chicago, using his regular staff-magic, facing a familiar villain, with a couple familiar sidekicks in tow (particularly Murphy, who will always be my favorite).
Tl;dr The greatness continues–5/5 stars
If anyone wants to talk spoiler-y stuff, leave a comment and I will happily geek out with you down there.