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Review of The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

Review of The Devil You Know by Mike CareyThe Devil You Know by Mike Carey

Rating: I LOVED IT
Series: Felix Castor #1
Genres: Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 528
Published by: Orbit
Publication Date: July 10th 2007
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Book Blurb: Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist, and London is his stamping ground. It may seem like a good ghostbuster can charge what he likes and enjoy a hell of a lifestyle--but there’s a risk: Sooner or later he’s going to take on a spirit that’s too strong for him. While trying to back out of this ill-conceived career, Castor accepts a seemingly simple ghost-hunting case at a museum in the shadowy heart of London--just to pay the bills, you understand. But what should have been a perfectly straightforward exorcism is rapidly turning into the Who Can Kill Castor First Show, with demons and ghosts all keen to claim the big prize. That’s OK: Castor knows how to deal with the dead. It’s the living who piss him off...

I took a strong dislike to him right then to save time and effort later.

…Well, sometimes cruelty is kindness in disguise. Sometimes pain is the best teacher. Sometimes it does you no harm to realize that there’s a limit to what you can get away with.

The party guests milled around like a decapitated squid—lots of appendages, no brain, faintly suspect smell.

He was an elegant parasite who managed to make you feel you should be thanking him while he scrounged off you.

But if God had meant us to climb the mountain in a day, he would have put in a chairlift.

This series has every possibility of making me completely obsessed, and I’m excited to see where this goes.

The really boiled down plot is basically about an exorcist, Felix, who is hired to get rid of a ghost. I’d consider this more of a supernatural mystery. It starts out pretty simple but takes on some nifty twists and turns along the way.

The setting is an alternative London where ghost are common. There’s some otherworldly creatures that make a showing and up the action. I think Carey did a great job introducing us to the world without pages of lengthy explanation where every nuance is revealed regardless of its association to the current story. I had everything I needed in order to understand what was happening. With ghosts being a common, known part of life, it created an interesting take on what is commonly hidden from the general public in other such books. It’s out there, and Felix’s profession is used and recognized, to a certain extent. I was going along with this just fine until a friend pointed out that for a world where ghosts were supposedly so common, there were a few people who hadn’t seen them or didn’t believe in them. Looking back, I would have liked that explored a bit more. Or perhaps I missed something.

I liked the characters in this book. Despite the cast surrounding our main protagonist, Felix was by far my favorite. He’s been through some stuff that’s made him a bit unsure of himself, and it’s given him a rather grim outlook. For me, I loved the voice of Felix. It drew me in quickly and held me the entire time. He has a bleak outlook sometimes, but it’s delivered with subtle humor and cynical sarcasm, but it’s not overly done. Even better, I could actually feel him growing in this book. By the end, he’d changed, and I’m a huge supporter of where he’s heading. I guess I was drawn to him so thoroughly that it made the other characters a tad bland. They all have their own quirks, but they felt standard: a plucky, adventurous girl; a long-time friend that’s there for him; a bad mobster type villain. There’s a few characters that have huge potential, such as his brother and a conspiracy zombie nut. I’m thinking since this is just book one, those characters will unveil deeper meaning as time progresses.

As I said, I loved the voice of Felix which led me to enjoying the writing. It moved quickly. The pace was nice. The action great. My only negative comes down to the very very lengthy descriptions. I don’t live in London, so a lot went right over my head. None of it helped me imagine the setting, probably because I grew too bored too quickly to take the time to let it. Moreover, it bogged everything down.

I won’t compare this to Dresden as many have. The characters and world are different enough that I’m not inclined to do so. And I feel this is very different from Constantine, which is another comparison I read. Right now, Felix is very ghost oriented, whereas Constantine is more heaven and hell focused. These might eventually converge—I can see the potential of it—but as it stands now, they’re different.

So overall, if you like the supernatural and mystery, I highly recommend this book.

About Mike Carey

Mike Carey is a British writer whose work spans comics, novels, film scripts, and TV shows. After writing shorts for British sci-fi comic 2000 AD and a few one-shots for Caliber Comics during the 1990s, he was offered DC/Vertigo’s Lucifer — henceforth the longest running and most successful Sandman-related spinoff to date. While continuing to work with DC on Vertigo series like Crossing Midnight and graphic novels like God Save The Queen, he took over as lead writer for Marvel’s X-Men (now X-Men: Legacy) in 2006. His work includes DC/Vertigo’s Hellblazer, Marvel’s Ultimate Fantastic Four, the Felix Castor novels, The Steel Seraglio (with Linda and Louise Carey), and DC/Vertigo’s The Unwritten (with Peter Gross).

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