In terms of a series that I have poured time and energy into, probably the only other series I love as much as the Dresden Files is the Dark Tower series (and I think that will have a post series of its very own on the blog at some point, as it is my absolute favorite series/book and the most often recommended read from me). So, that’s saying a whole heck of a lot. (I appreciate the characters, the storytelling, and the explosion factor in the Dresden Files. Your mileage may vary.)
Anyway, Skin Game is the 15th installment of the Dresden Files, and throughout, it reminded me of a scene from season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer which is hysterical when watching from the outside (with insider knowledge), but would be really frustrating if you didn’t have the insider knowledge. Which is to say, don’t start here if you haven’t read the Dresden Files before.
Butcher leans heavily on all the history that has come before in the Dresden universe. There were times, since I haven’t reread the series in a while, I went on a Wikipedia hunt for a character or reminders about past books. And yet, Butcher also does a nice job including enough banter or catch up that the reader has a vague idea, which is enough for the purposes of the book.
Butcher has commented that books 12-14 were like a “special three part episode.”
For me personally, CHANGES – GHOST STORY – COLD DAYS is the big three-part special episode that comes in the middle of the season like they used to do in the old shows, like in the 70s and 80s. “This is the HUGE, EPIC episode!” and they’d occasionally pre-empt the whole evening to show it to you. That’s what those three books are to me. This will be getting back to what we’ve done before. Harry’s been kind of in isolation for a while, and the events that have happened to him have kind of changed him over time. We get to see a little bit more of that, we get to see a little bit more of him stopping that. And you get back to Chicago to the Scooby Gang and so on. Although he can’t spend as much time with them as I’m sure a lot of readers would have because the whole premise of SKIN GAME is he gets loaned out to the Evil League of Evil so they can pull a job. So that’s what he’s busy doing, he’s got to hang out with all these jerks and psychopaths. (From an August 2013 interview)
for me, this book puts Dresden in a different light as he’s wrestling with the choices he’s made over the past few years (books), and what the consequences of those choices are. There were some major changes that happened in the last three books. I appreciate that the core of Dresden is battling with what that means for him.
All in all, I really loved this installment of the Dresden Files, recognizing the amount of backstory it requires may put some people off. But, for me? That’s what makes me coming back to a series – that it remembers I can remember and leans on the backstory to move forward … kind of like life.