SkinGameCoverWith angels and demons and fairies and less skin than you might imagine from the title (but certainly some of that, as well), Skin Game is the much anticipated fifteenth book in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, due out at the end of the month (May 27).

The series so far has had our hero, Harry Dresden, face impossible odds at incredible stakes to his own physical and emotional detriment. And as Harry gets shot in first quarter of the book, Skin Game proves to be no different. If you’re a fan of the series, you’re not grumbling about a spoiler right now since you know Harry’s adventures often lead him to far worse pains than mere bullet wounds. (Besides, I didn’t tell you where he gets shot.)

The end of the last book, Cold Days, left Harry with wounds to heal, a supernatural supermax prison island to warden, and a ticking time-bomb of a parasite trying to make his head explode. At the beginning of Skin Game, we find Harry right where we left him on Demonreach, though the near desolation- if not the crippling parasite headaches- are starting to drive him a little mad. Enter Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, Monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe. Not to save the day, of course, but to loan her Winter Knight out so she can settle a debt. And, if he doesn’t complete the task to her liking, she’ll let that pesky parasite splatter Harry-brains everywhere as it bursts from his skull. Is it wrong that I kind of love Mab in all her evil glory?

This installment in the series not only provides the signature mind-blowing twist that takes us to our breathless conclusion, but also throws in the revelation to a mystery that’s been dangled over our heads for five books now. It’s big. My jaw literally dropped. I still haven’t sorted all my feels about it. It also features choice members of Harry’s crew[Spoiler], familiar big bads[Spoiler], big goods[Spoiler], and famous deities[Spoiler]. And of course, we see incredible risks and sacrifices, the most precarious of which isn’t made by Harry.

If this series were a man, I would totally marry it (or at least be it’s creepy stalker), so it can almost do no wrong. Almost. There were a few times where I felt like I was being clobbered over the head with some of the information. Like when Harry explains something that I already knew to a centuries-old- ie. way wise and clever- being for the reader’s benefit. Or, after Harry sets up a distraction, another character looks at it “in sudden understanding” and the realization is spelled out. If you show me 2+2, I’m gonna figure out it’s four. Anyone who isn’t up to speed and hasn’t figured out what is about to happen will figure it out when it starts happening. It’s really tedious slogging through an entire paragraph screaming, “Duh. I know!” This wasn’t a problem in the previous books in the series, so I don’t understand where this sudden urge to over-explain comes from, but I hope Butcher is over it by next book.

I’m slightly obsessed with the series (I have a Dresden Files theory notebook), so I may be a bit biased when I say that I think you should read all the other books in the series, but hear me out. First of all, the series is consistently fast, fun, and action packed. That’s FIFTEEN books of humor, wit, and awesome fight scenes (most of which include fire and/or explosions). Second, while a sentence or two could fill in the uninitiated allowing you to play mix and match with some of the earlier books (*eye twitch*), by this book there is so much history with each of the characters, not to mention aspects of the Dresden-verse rules, that it’s impossible to stuff in sufficient cliff-notes for new readers. There were certain details even an avid/rabid fan such as myself had to take a moment to remember. Picking up this book to start with won’t ruin things, but it will definitely leave you bewildered while the rest of us are in on the joke. Sometimes literally. Third, I can’t nerd out and dissect theories with you if all you fine people aren’t up to speed!

And as this is Whedonopolis, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there’s a Dr. Horrible reference among the myriad nerdy references typical of a Dresden Files novel. You can pre-order Skin Game now on Amazon, or buy it during one of Jim Butcher’s upcoming book tour dates, including the May 27 book launch at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach. And be sure to harass ask Butcher all your questions when he does a reddit AMA on May 16.

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