SKIN GAME (The Dresden Files #15)
Penguin Audio, Narr. James Marsters
I don't really know why the audio version of Skin Game sat on my iPod for nearly a year before I got around to listening. Maybe it was because I listened to the first thirty minutes or so and couldn't get into it or more likely I found the dark turn that the three previous books had taken uncomfortable. It just doesn't get darker than the events of Changes, Ghost Story and Cold Days. I hated that Harry was forced by events and Mab, the Winter Queen of Faerie, to become the Winter Knight. Being the Winter Knight comes with both character changes and a very short life expectancy; neither of which I wanted to see for Harry. Most of my fears were allayed by Skin Game, and in the non stop style that has made The Dresden Files the best out there in Urban Fantasy.
Skin Game opens with Harry still on Demonreach, an island on Lake Michigan that serves as a prison for supernatural criminals and maniacs; some so ancient they have no names. Harry is the Warden of Demonreach but that is the least of his problems. He also has a psychic parasite that threatens to kill him and everyone he loves. Mab appears on the island with a job for Harry he can't refuse. The parasite will kill him "Alien" style in three days time but Mab will remove it if the job is successful. Too bad it involves a heist, no less than the Holy Grail, which is located in the Vault of Hades (yes, that Hades). The heist is masterminded by Nicodemus, Knight of the Blackened Denarius, millenniums old and entirely evil. Nicodemus and Harry have tangled before and Harry would much rather kill him than work with him.
The action is breathtaking as Harry struggles to fulfill Mab's word to Nicodemus while simultaneously thwarting the plot. Most of the usual gang are present; Murphy, Butters and Michael Carpenter play a large part. To my mind Waldo Butters and Michael Carpenter just about steal the book this time as they provide the most emotionally affecting moments. There are many changes in Skin Game but on the whole it ends on a much more positive note. I am now eagerly looking forward to the next Harry Dresden and to Butcher's upcoming Steampunk series.
RATING- 5 Stars for book and narration.