Review of audiobook version narrated by James Marsters
Reading Level: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Pages: 610 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
This is the tagline of this book per its author, Jim Butcher: “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.”
Mab, the Winter Queen of the fae, and Harry Dresden’s boss from hell in his role as Winter Knight, is at it again. His second assignment from her is even worse than the first one, which forms the plot of Cold Days. In Skin Game, Mab trades Harry’s reluctant services to pay off a debt of honor to one of the most evil beings on the planet, Nicodemus Archleone, who is also Harry’s arch nemesis. Nicodemus is an actual fallen angel, known as a Denarian, who has been incarnated for over 2000 years.
Nicodemus is determined to steal the actual Holy Grail from the vault of none other than Hades himself. But to get to that particular corner of the Underworld, Harry and a crew of supernaturally talented criminals brought together by Nicodemus will first have to work together to break into the highest-security bank vault in the country, and maybe in the whole world. It is designed, owned and operated by none other than Chicago’s most powerful gangster, Gentleman Johnny Marcone, an incredibly dangerous man to cross, perhaps more so even than Hades.
Once again Harry will have to call on his closest friends to help him carry out his assigned role in this deadly scheme. And even with the best helpers available watching his back, Harry knows he has only a small chance of surviving this horrible escapade.
I was fascinated to discover this book continues a scary storyline which has existed across multiple books in the Dresden Files series. It involves Nicodemus and some prominent members of a gang of his fellow evil Denarians. There are some amazing surprises contained within their dastardly machinations in this book, none of which did I see coming, at all.
This is not a series for which it is good idea to read any of the books out of order, and that is particularly the case with the most recent four books, Changes, Ghost Story, Cold Days, and this book, Skin Game. A major plotline, dealing with Harry’s young daughter, Maggie, and the consequences of the extreme actions Harry took in order to save her life in Changes, play out across these four books. It culminates in some crucial scenes between Harry and Maggie in this book, which are very heartwarming.
In every book of this fabulous series, Jim Butcher magnificently presents a complex magical world, which we experience with great immediacy through the first-person point-of-view of wise-cracking, defender-of-the weak, Harry Dresden. In every book, and definitely this one, Harry is massively outclassed by terrifyingly powerful, magical villains. So all of the many, many fight scenes in this book, particularly the climactic battle scene, are major nail-biters.
Under the corrupting influence of the terrible power of the mantle of the Winter Knight, Harry continues to fight to maintain his soul and conscience. He is determined that Mab will not distort his personality into a robotic extension of her cold, callous will. Once again Harry has wonderful allies in the form of his closest friends and his magical dog, Mouse, who not only support and defend him physically, but also help to bolster his determination to remain on the ethical straight and narrow.
The audiobook version of Cold Days is narrated by James Marsters, an extremely gifted actor and voice talent. He is best known for playing the character Spike, a platinum-blond, British vampire, in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off series, Angel, between 1997 and 2004.
The sound quality of this unabridged audiobook is outstanding. As we fans have come to expect and rely on, Marsters does a fantastic job on every part of his performance. He is fabulous at portraying every type of male and female voice, of all ages and various national and regional accents. Listening to him is a delight.
I rate this book as follows:
Hero: 5 stars
Subcharacters: 5 stars
Worldbuilding: 5 stars
Action-Adventure Plot: 5 stars
Writing: 5 stars
Audiobook Narration: 5 stars
Overall: 5 stars
Action-Adventure Plot: 5
Audiobook Narration: 5