Book Review: The Skin Game By Jim Butcher

The Skin Game is the 15th book in Jim Butcher’s very popu­lar Dres­den Files series of urban fantasy novels.

bk15sg_1280x1024To some extent writ­ing a review of the 15th in a series of 23 books is a bit point­less. I mean really.… at this point you know if you like the style of these books and noth­ing I say is going to influ­ence you at all. But I’m going to do it anyway, because my opin­ion is all that really matters. Or some­thing.

A few books back Butcher basi­cally oblit­er­ated the status quo for his protag­o­nist Harry Dres­den and then spent the next couple of books estab­lish­ing a new one. This book seems to largely complete that process, but also moves forward several of the other long-running subplots from the series.

As such, and not surpris­ing for some­thing labeled book 15, this is not a good start­ing point. Any of the first four or so books work as a hop on point but this is far too late into things. There are so many support­ing char­ac­ters and subplots, some of which are only refer­enced here and don’t actu­ally get face time, that you would just feel like you were miss­ing things all the time if you started now.

For those of you who have read and enjoyed the previ­ous books (if you haven’t…seriously what are you doing?) dipping in to this one is going to feel like putting on a famil­iar pair of shoes.We know these char­ac­ters pretty thor­oughly at this point. We know how they talk and we know how they behave. You are not going to be surprised very often. But then again that’s prob­a­bly not what people read­ing this sort of series are look­ing for anyway.

There’s a certain rythm to a Dres­den Files novel and this one follows that template pretty closely. But it’s just so fun to spend time with the char­ac­ters and listen to them. Sure you know that Harry is going to get beaten up repeat­edly, but even­tu­ally win the day. But you don’t know exactly how he’s going to do it

The heist setup is a nice twist on things since we’re used to Harry going on a case rather than partic­i­pat­ing in a robbery. It’s also nice to see more of the light­hearted side of Dres­den again. I guess he’s coming out the other side from this latest round of suffer­ing.

The humor and gratu­itous pop culture refer­ences (it’s pretty much in char­ac­ter but it’s going to date these books pretty fast) prob­a­bly won’t suit everyone’s tastes, but I’ve always enjoyed them. This is not heavy duty liter­a­ture. But it is a fast paced page turner. You won’t find too much in the way of insight into the human condi­tion or soci­ety, but there’s plenty of emotional thrills and action. Jim Butcher has a knack for making you feel what his char­ac­ters are going through. The frus­tra­tion, the desper­a­tion and finally the elation.

There’s also a couple of really strong emotional scenes in here. Over the years Butcher has shown himself ruth­less enough with his char­ac­ters that there is real jeop­ardy for many of them and some of them have earned (in my mind at least) peace… but they won’t get it.

Buy The Skin Game at Amazon​.com

About Eoghann Irving

Overly opinionated owner and author of You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for. Eoghann has often wondered if people read these little bio things we have to fill out everywhere on the internet and, assuming they do, why?