I’ve finally made it! After nearly a year of reading the Dresden series, I just finished the latest book, “Skin Game.” Now, just like every fan out there, I get to wait for the next installment (whenever that’ll be). Before I get into the plot, I’d just like to say thanks to anyone who’s been reading these posts. It’s been a fun series to explore and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes next. All that said, let’s get into the meat of “Skin Game.”
Harry gets roped into a heist scheme involving Nicodemus, leader of the Denarians, and a ragtag group of professional thieves both old and new. Despite his reluctance, he’s forced to go along with them or face punishment by Mab. But this heist is far from ordinary and will take Harry to the depths of the Underworld itself. Will he make it out in one piece and prevent Nicodemus from causing major trouble, or has Harry gotten in over his head?
I’ve said in the past that Nicodemus and the Denarians in general are my favorite baddies in the Dresden-verse. I can honestly say that this is possibly my favorite book involving them to date. Wrapping them into a heist plot also made for a fun time, as I’ve always enjoyed a good heist now and then. However, this does have at least one downside to it, which I’ll get to later. I WILL say that the pacing was a bit…slow for me for a while. I partially blame it on trying to start the book after coming off of being sick as well as how distracted I get when I’m visiting my fiance. But a lot of it also stems from the downside I hinted at.
I liked that many familiar faces return in this and get either development or at least some cool things to do. Characters like Michael and Karrin get in on the action and their relationships with Harry give off the warm fuzzies. There’s a chapter consisting of mostly dialogue between Harry and Michael that was easily one of the best moments in the entire series. It emphasized why a character like Michael is needed to balance out Harry. I also liked Grey, one of the hired “thieves” for the heist. He was interesting both in personality and in having shape-shifting abilities, and of course plays a crucial part in the book’s climax that I won’t spoil. The only characters I took issue with were Butters and Hannah, another thief. Through most of the book (barring the ending), Butters acts a bit like a vigilante and comes across annoying in his actions. I got where he was coming from and why he was doing the things he did, but it was pretty clear that he was being more of a detriment than a help. As for Hannah, I liked her…at first. She’s one of those “spunky” female characters who is tough but also doesn’t mind flirting with her male counterparts. For the majority of the book, I was interested in the little tidbits that popped up about her. But by the third act, I was tired of her “flirty, action heroine” shtick. It came off a little obnoxious, though this was luckily addressed by the climax.
Finally, we come to one of my biggest issues with the book: the first half. The book is exactly 600 pages long, and for over half of that, it spends over 350 pages planning out the heist. Now, I know part of the fun of a heist is the thought that goes into it, but in book form, it felt like it took forever to get to the plan’s execution. Thankfully, there are character moments (like the Michael one I mentioned, for example) that break up the planning bits, but by the 300-page mark, I was anxious to get to the action already. The second half WAS definitely worth it, though, and the little twists and turns that popped up before, during, and after the climax kept me fully invested. I just wish it had kicked in just a tad sooner.
Overall, “Skin Game” was a good if not great book. Bringing back Nicodemus and the Denarians was a welcome return, and the plot centering around a heist was a neat departure from the other Dresden stories. There were great strides made with a few characters (major AND minor), and Harry even gets a few moments in himself. I’m happy to finally be caught up and know the ins and outs of the series thus far. Maybe now I can keep my assurance to James Marsters and try the audio books while I wait for #16 to be released.