Jim Butcher has written fifteen books in his Dresden Files series, not counting the short story anthology. The latest, Skin Game, was released today. I’ve picked up a copy.
Butcher’s skill at spinning yarns has increased steadily since his humble beginnings as a creative writing student crafting a genre crossover between noir and fantasy as a class project. He was twenty-five then. We’ve had one book a year since then. And each has been better than the last, with a possible exception for the pivotal novel Changes – not because it is lacking, but because it marked a watershed moment in theme for the series, and so cannot be adequately be compared to its surrounding works.
The new novel? Extraordinary. New mysteries are hinted at, subtle premises established more than a decade ago are revealed in a new light, old beloved characters are brought back in thoughtful new roles. Instead of sprinting from one supernatural disaster to another, desperately trying to keep Chicago in one piece, Harry Dresden has had a lot of time off… to the point of sanity erosion. Being left alone almost of the time on his unmapped island in Lake Michigan hasn’t done a great deal for his mental stability. He’s so lonely that he’s taken to chatting with the entities imprisoned beneath the island, something he had previously lampshaded as near to criminally irresponsible. But his old nemesis and new boss Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, shows up with a task for him to perform, and she’s not going to take ‘no’ lightly.
I can’t decide which delighted me more: the plot turns and developments which I didn’t see coming, or the one I successfully called many years ago. So very satisfying.