Dresden is not only back from the dead—having spent an entire novel as a ghost!—but he is back with more guilty angst over endangering his friends and loved ones than ever before. The Winter faerie queen Mab still has her claws in Harry, and forces him to work with his worst enemy Nicodemus to pay off her debt to the scary dude. The job entails ripping off a certain Greek god of the underworld, no small task even for Harry. And, of course, that means collaborating with all sort of meanies, ranging from Nicodemus’ insane daughter with her slithery razor-blade locks, an outlawed wizard, a huge hairy beast with tusks, bad breath and a worse attitude, a mercenary shapeshifter, and more. Even Nicodemus’ ex-wife Tessa enters the picture with her own agenda, her own army of baddies, and the ability to turn into a supersonic and very angry giant praying mantis at all the wrong moments.
Complicating everything is the fact that Harry is still obliged to serve as Mab’s Winter Knight, endowed with superhuman powers which are nonetheless corrupting his soul and, he fears, endangering anyone around him. Worse, he no longer has his home, Bob the Skull, or even his magic dog to comfort him, as he has deliberately isolated himself by living on the frigid island Demonreach where the worst of the worst monsters are imprisoned. Harry also has some sort of demon spirit in his head which is threatening to drive him insane, and Mab assures him he has only a limited amount of time to carry out the heist with Nicodemus before the spirit explodes his head. All in all, a horrible, no good, very bad time for Harry Dresden.
All of our favorite characters are back in the thick of the action and more interesting than ever, from coroner Butters to the retired Holy Knight Michael Carpenter, to Harry’s best friend and potential love interest Karrin Murphy, now an ex-cop who along with the rest of us must spend a lot of time wondering why Harry hasn’t yet made his move. The only one missing is one of my personal favorites, Harry’s half-brother and reluctant vampire of the White Court Thomas (maybe the next in the series, Mr. Butcher?). The action as Skin Game heads to its climax gets a little Smaug-ish, and Harry should have perished multiple times from getting shot, crushed, blown up, and –ugh!—infested by flesh-eating insects, but needless to say (no spoiler here!) he lives to save the day and pave the way for Dresden file #16. Can’t wait!