REVIEW: SKIN GAME / AUTHOR: JIM BUTCHER / PUBLISHER: ORBIT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series is one of the heavy hitters of the urban fantasy genre. Skin Game is the fifteenth book in this wildly popular series and see’s Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, getting involved in one of the most elaborate heists possible.
This time round Harry finds himself manipulated into working with one of his arch-rivals, the hel-powered murderer Nicodemus, a chap so evil that he has a fallen angel in his head. The job is to break into the vaults of the Greek god Hades and steal the Holy Grail. As you may be able to guess, that’s no small task and what we have here is a very solid Ocean’s 11-with-supernatural-monsters tale that keeps the reader guessing throughout.
Skin Game is a return to form for Jim Butcher. Some of the previous books have gotten bogged down in the world’s own mythology and, though a little bit of familiarity is expected, the series had begun to get repetitive and somewhat dull. This new instalment fixes this by giving Harry fresh reasons to stay alive and moving his various relationships forward. It’s also nice to see that the other heroes of the book finally have lives outside of Harry’s activities.
Butcher’s style is an addictive and clever one; his approach is warm and easy but he loves to toy with the reader, adding twist after twist. Fans will be familiar with the way that the main character is always getting beaten up and at times this stretches credulity. But as this is a series of books that once featured zombie dinosaurs, you are advised to enter into the spirit of the thing and relax.
Skin Game partially reboots the series: nothing from the previous books is lost but Harry’s journey through this adventure tells the reader everything they need to know about the character. This is a good starting point for those looking to see what the fuss is about and existing fans will be delighted that it’s as good as ever.