Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review - Vicious Circle

Vicious Circle – Mike Carey
I thoroughly enjoyed Mike Carey’s first book. I read two debuts around the same time of urban fantasy novels and Mike’s stood out as the superior novel (The other was Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden’s series) and I was hoping for more of the same.
The blurb:
Castor has reluctantly returned to exorcism after the case of the Bonnington Archive ghost convinced him that he really can do some good with his abilities ('good', of course, being a relative term when dealing with the undead). But his friend, Rafi, is still possessed; the succubus, Ajulutsikael (Juliet to her friends), still technically has a contract on him; and he's still--let's not beat around the bush--dirt poor. Doing some consulting for the local constabulary helps pay the bills, but Castor needs a big, private job to really fill the hole in his overdraft.

That's what he needs. What he gets, good fortune and Castor not being on speaking terms, is a seemingly insignificant 'missing ghost' case that inexorably drags himself and his loved ones into the middle of a horrific plot to raise one of Hell's fiercest demons. When Satanists, sacrifice farms, stolen spirits and possessed churches all appear on the same police report, the name of Felix Castor can't be too far behind...
Not since I read Paul F Wilson’s “The Keep” and then the sequel “The Tomb” has a first and second novel felt so different in feel and tone. Whereas Mike Carey’s first novel was a slow burner, where Felix Castor investigated a haunting in a library by interviewing the employees in the building, Vicious Circle sees him in over his head and frantically avoiding an attack every five minutes as he struggles to figure out what the hell is going on.
This is not a bad thing and it is certainly not an inferior novel as a result, it just took me a little while to adjust to the different style.
Felix is fleshed out a lot more in this novel. We learn more about his past and in particular his guilt over his best friend’s Rafi’s problem. Felix is still the same confident and obsessive investigator but Mike Carey seems to enjoy the character more in this sequel, as Felix is always quick with a sarcastic comment or quip. He is also more reckless, taking chances with his mouth when a gun is pointed at his head often. In short, he is great.
The supporting cast are also good. Pen (Felix’s roommate), is great as his conscious that he does not listen to. There is a nice tension between them underlined by a lot of respect.
Juliet the Siren is also great. One of antagonists in the first novel, Vicious Circle sees her team up with Felix as she tries to learn how to be human. It is a great dynamic, as Felix constantly has to struggle in her presence to avoid the natural propensity to fall head over heels in lust with her.
The other good character is Peace. I wasn’t crazy about the name, for some reason it could never flow in the sentence as I read it, but he is a great character. A chequered past and seemingly a stronger skill with the supernatural, Peace is someone that invokes intrigue.
As I mentioned earlier, Vicious Circle moves as at rapid place. Felix takes on far too many jobs and does not really have a firm grasp on any of them. As he tries to make sense of the few leads he has, he stumbles across incident after incident and gets his butt kicked. The confusion Felix feels, rubs off on the reader, and initially I felt a little overwhelmed trying to remember what character was associated with which case. In some ways this is a good thing, as you really get a sense of the uphill battle Felix is facing, but when I was expecting a slow burner like Mike Carey’s previous book, I was a little shell-shocked.
Having said that, once I got a firm grasp on the plot, I loved the intrigues and mystery. The plot was very reminiscent of a Robert Crais or Harlan Coben novel only with ghosts, were-creatures and demons.
Inevitably, all of the plots weave their way together and accumulate in realistic and satisfactory way. Felix’s actions are logical and although he faces death about 49,254 times in the book, it never feels like he is let off without good reason or is saved by an outside force.
The ending presents an epic showdown worthy of the plot and even pulls on a few emotional strings as Felix is put through the ringer. Battered,bruised and emonally drained I can't wait to see what happens next to Fix.
My rating: 8.7