The Devil You Know Hardcover – Jul 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Aviolent ghost in a world where spirits are rarely mean-spirited is a clue to a deeper mystery in this engrossing dark fantasy debut from comics-writer Carey. Felix Fix Castor is an itinerant exorcist who (like a certain famous group of Hollywood ghost-evicters) alternates between dispatching spooks and doing stage magic at ungrateful children's birthday parties. When he's summoned to end a haunting at London's prestigious Bonnington Archive, he finds a vengeful specter with a blood-veiled face that resists methods for extirpating the usually docile dead. When Castor begins probing more deeply, he quickly finds himself harassed by a ravenous succubus, a belligerent fellow exorcist and a slimy Eastern European pimp. The resolution of this ingeniously multilayered tale will satisfy fans of both fantasy and detective fiction. Fix Castor's wisecracking cleverness in the face of weird nemeses makes him the perfect hardboiled hero for a new supernatural noir series. 10-city author tour. (July)
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"A funny, frightening, thoroughly absorbing thriller set in an alternative London where ghosts and other supernatural things go bump in the night---and day." ---Kirkus Starred Review --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this book. It started off a little slow and I had to nearly force myself to get into it. Eventually it started picking up and I got more interested. It was especially interesting that although it's paranormal in regards to ghosts and other creatures (there's a loup garou but not what you usually think it would be..it's different). There's also an underlying realistic element in it as naturally the ghost is there with a reason and has a story to tell (ie; how she became a ghost) so real life comes into play just as much as the paranormal side does in this book. Which is good it's a nice mixture and it's done nicely so that the magic parts come naturally and it doesn't seem so out of the ordinary, it actually feels like everyday life.
I think the other reason why it took me a while to get into it, is because in the beginning, Felix goes through a huge narration on explaining how he got to this point, and how he met certain characters and their background stories.Read more ›
The translation from the world we live in (at least the one we think we know) to one with ghosts, magic and various undead up and around in the general mix of society... is well crafted. His reluctance to excorcise a ghost he has been contracted to make go away, until that nagging feeling is understood; that works very well; gives you a good read on the Felix. And the main charactor, Felix, is not a hero who has all the right answers and all the right moves, he gets into scrapes and sometimes 'takes the worse of it'... but, coincidence or luck, or karma, little clues to the mystery are granted.
I enjoyed it enough that I will pick up the second in the series so I can read the further adventures, but I can read some other books without getting itchy to read that second book 'this minute' 3 stars, better than that, 4 stars, maybe generous, probably justified.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Witty, charming and intelligent, he maps out the grid of the ghosts he's getting rid by playing music on his tin whistle, but this time something else is going on, for once Felix starts to care about why the ghost is haunting the Bonnington Archive, a posh literary mecca of manuscripts and forgotten memories. Instead of wanting to get rid of the pesky hooded lady in white he realizes that something fishy is going on in the seemingly civilized and proper world of art and treasures and some people have crossed moral lines resulting in a haunting. Felix has other things to worry about, a big guy named Scrub who forces him to take on other projects, a mysterious succubus summoned from hell to get rid of him - someone doesn't want him to solve the enigma - and a brothel pimp who wants him to work on his side. Suffocated by negative sources he must solve the mystery of the mute ghost while under the watchful eyes of Alice, the lady in charge who seems to run the Archive while sleeping with the boss.
I liked the set up; the archives - quite an interesting place since I love libraries and various other paper storage places. It echoed of slight creepiness at night when Felix would sneak in to do his work, while seemingly alone he bumped into some things that kept threatening his life. This book was a fun read, although not too deep it still kept me interested enough to finish it in record time and the ending has quite interesting, I didn't make the connections until they were shown to me, so that's good, surprises are always welcome in my world of reading. I also liked that it left some threads running, I can only conclude that this story line will continue but with different clues and a new crime.
- Kasia S.
Anyway, when I first picked up The Devil You Know and read the jacket, I thought perhaps this would be a soft-boiled version of John Constantine. I was wrong.
Felix Castor is close to Constantine, no argument there. They share an attitude that is grim and at the same time blackly humorous. They're both working in the trade of the spirit world, and they both have friends with chips on the shoulder, chips pointed at them. However, "Fix" has no place for magic in his exorcisms, and does his best to be an atheist. Constantine's bread and butter is magic, and he knows too well that there is a heaven and a hell.
The Devil You Know is a witty mystery with delightfully dark characters. I read it in a day, sucked into the story as sure as if Fix was playing the whistle into my ear. I loved it, I loved each character, I loved guessing at the next plot twist, and being pleasantly surprised when I was right, and more pleased when I was wrong.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good ghost story, a good murder mystery, or just good writing, great characters, and a twisting storyline.
If Glen Cook's Garrett, PI is wildly over-the-top, Felix Castor, the ghost exorcist in "Devil" is pleasantly around-the-middle--something like Harry Dresden, but more charming, and with a delightfully self-degradating sense of humor that draws smiles rather than belly laughs. There are love/sex interests in plenty, from a Succubus to a gorgeous but Platonic flatmate, to a tight-butted and willing IT specialist, to a varied assortment of prostitutes...but for the most part (with two hot exceptions) the sex is potentially titillating only. Felix, or "Fix" as he is known to his friends, is on an assignment to exorcise a ghost that is terrorizing an Archive of Various Odds and Ends in London. He soon discovers that there is a back story that he can't let go, and winds up involved in theft, murder, human trafficking, etc. As pointed out by other reviewers, the story is made lively by the involvement of various supernatural creatures, including not only ghosts and Succubi, but also demons and Loup-Garous. But while there is enough action to keep the plot moving, the most pleasing aspect of this novel is the constant self-analysis the Felix suffers through. He is deeply concerned with existential questions about ghosts: when he exorcises them, where do they go? Is he a murderer?
The depth of Fix's character make this novel, the first in a series, stand out from the zillions of other supernatural detectives/hunters/killers novels. In particular, his insight into his own human condition deepens as the story moves forward, and we begin to really empathize with his personal demons of guilt. Best of all, several of the other characters are quite delightful, and give us hope they will reappear in the succeeding novels of this series.
If you like this type of novel, you'll like this book. But if you also like Deborah Grabien, or M. John Harrison, or Jonathan Carroll, or Daryll Gregory, you might love it.
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, by Mike Carey, is an Urban Fantasy that you will most likely find shelved in the horror section of your local bookstore. It is about an exorcist, Felix Castor, who is looking to get out of the game, but predictably takes one last job. That job is a haunting of a museum in London. Obviously, things go to hell in a hand-basket. Quite literally actually. Demons and all that.
I understand that this isn't a new formula. Felix is pretty downtrodden, and he's poor, and he can be a tad snarky at times. Sound familiar? I'm pretty sure I see Simon R. Green and Jim Butcher jumping up and down waving their arms in the back of the class. Yeah. The formula won't be a big surprise.
Luckily for you and I, the writing and the tone were what set this novel apart. Carey's novel is decidedly grimmer with less comedic content. You know what? This is a good thing. The PoV is an EXORCIST for heaven's sake (Hehe, that wasn't even intentional!). This novel just FEELS different than the typical Urban Fantasy you see today. And boys and girls, it feels good.
It a sense, it feels like Carey took the Harry Dresden character from Butcher's novels and hardened the edges a bit. Felix Castor is a borderline alcoholic. He's more violent. He cracks jokes less often. He's made a ton more irreparable mistakes (some explained in detail, with others left for the sequels). And those mistakes have had serious consequences. The character is darker. I love it.
Now that isn't to say there aren't problems. Carey's transitions can be pretty poor. Sometimes I would start a new chapter, and be completely unsure what was going on for several pages. More than once I was checking to see if pages had been ripped out of my copy of the novel. Seriously, come on man. It happened enough times to be a nuisance. And a lot of these odd transitions were seemingly random scenes whose only purpose was to give the PoV a "brilliant idea" later on. If the museum exorcism was his last job, then why does Castor take other jobs at the same time (well, apart from the heavy-handed foreshadowing they give)? Also, there is a lot of standing around. You'd think with a demon chasing you (The demon was well done. A mark better than the Butcher incarnation of the same type of demon), there'd be more...well, chasing.
Problems aside, there is a lot going right in this novel, and the sequels have made it onto my lengthy list of "books that have me excited to read." There is a much more serious tone in this novel, and of course the question left for the readers at the end, "Where to the recipients of exorcism go?" THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is quite a fun and easy read, and you should definitely go pick up the paperback of it.
Recommended Age: 17 and up. Lots of prostitution references and showings, not to mention the idea of exorcism isn't for the young. Also, see the info below as well.
Language: Yessir. Some of the characters are particularly foul-mouthed.
Violence: Yeah, especially at the end. Some may consider it disturbing.
Sex: Our PoV is in a strip club for half the novel. And he is chased by a succubus. Who catches him. Yeah, there is some sex in this novel.
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