This is the most fun I’ve had while reading a book all year. I’ve loved and been affected by other books more deeply, but in terms of how gleeful a book has made me feel, this one wins hands down. Within the first three pages I was already giggling like a maniac.
I’m currently twelve (almost thirteen, if I finish Brutal Youth tonight as I anticipate doing) reviews behind for this year, and it is eating my soul. And it’s this book’s fault, because I had so much fun reading it I’ve just been paralyzed in regards to what to say about it. It’s often that way with books I really enjoy, because the more I enjoy something emotionally, the less I am able to talk about it intelligently (even if the intelligent part of me admires it also, which I will admit, is not always the case, but the heart loves what it loves).
But twelve (almost thirteen) reviews is too many reviews, so I’m just sucking up and going and who knows what’s going to come out.
Skin Game is book fifteen in the Dresden Files, and I think it’s fair to say that Butcher is on fire at this point in his career. If you go look at my old reviews for the rest of the series, you can see that I pretty much wrote this series off after the first three books, but curiosity (and James Marsters) brought me back. I’m so so so glad it/he did, because this is honestly one of my favorite series right now. I know other people didn’t care for the serialized nature of the last three books, or the lack of private eye stuff, etc. but I’ve loved every minute of it. What’s most impressive about this book, I think, is that it not only manages to satisfy the fans who did love books twelve-fourteen (people who like when authors break from traditional structures and turn their stories on their heads), and people who just wanted some good old fashioned wisecracking wizard PI fun. The ramifications of all the change-ups in the series are still being felt here (including some frankly jaw-dropping sequences that have been building without us noticing since books and books ago*), which is my favorite part, but there’s also a really really fun ‘case of the week’ involving a heist in hell. The Denarians have usually been my least favorite villains, but in this one, they are super great.
*HERE BE SPOILERS: Harry’s brain love child with Lasciel/Lash is the best fucking thing I’ve ever heard of and I love it and holy shit I love it. Also, the thing with Butters and Murphy and the Jedi sword equals WHAT.
There were also some really nice emotional character beats to be found here, involving Harry’s relationship with Murphy, and with his daughter (this made me well up considerably, and I’m sure if I was a parent, I would have been bawling).
Also, did I mention it’s fucking hilarious? Like, from page one when Harry’s boredom at being cooped up on Demonreach has resulted in him learning Parkour and showing his skills off at every possible moment. The longer Butcher writes about these characters, the better he gets at it. Of course, Harry’s still just a teensy bit gross in that he just can’t help describing every bit of every beautiful woman he sees, but honestly at this point, I’ve accepted him for who he is, and the rest of Butcher’s world and characters makes it clear that it’s strictly a ‘Harry issue’ rather than a ‘Butcher issue’. Like I said, love.
If you guys have made it this far in my review and you’ve never read this series, or if you gave up on it early like I did, I urge you to reconsider and be patient. It’s toooootally worth it. You are missing out. And you should feel bad about it.
Dammit, I love this series.