Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review = The Devil you know

The Devil You Know - Mike Carey

The Devil You Know

Earlier this year I read my first Jim Butcher novel and loved it. Whenever, I researched Jim’s novels, one name was always mentioned in conjunction: Mike Carey.

With his Felix Castor series, Mike delves into the supernatural too but his books are set in London which make them that bit more fun for me.

Felix Castor is a struggling exorcist. Temporary retired although not officially.  Since an early age he could see ghosts (or was sensitive) to such things. We are introduced to Felix as he is struggling to make ends meet and takes on a short term job as a children’s entertainer/magician.

The result of the unwanted job and how it unfolds, informed me all I needed to know about this book. I was going to like it in a big way.

Felix is a wise cracking, smart mouth but not overly so. He is handy in a fight but again not overly so. He is confident in his ability but you guessed it, not overly so. Felix would rather run than fight. He knows when he is outmatched and so adjusts his position accordingly. It is this refreshing take on a character that endeared me to Felix so much.

I am so used to reading about characters that although have flaws, doesn’t stop them being a badass. Felix is not one of these yet he still manages to come across that way.

Inevitably, Felix is forced to delve back into the supernatural world and rid Bonnington archives of a ghost: A girl with a veil over her head that has been seen multiple times.

This is more of a mystery novel more than anything else. The supernatural elements (as with Jim Butcher) are embraced as the norm rather than explained. Felix knows what he has to do to get rid of spirits but has no idea why it works. This part of the story works well. It sets the stage for things to be discovered in subsequent novels thus making the story feel fresh.

Inevitably, as Felix uncovers more about the ghost of Bonnington, all is not as it seems. Rather than a malignant spirit haunting the poor workers at the archive, Felix senses there is something more sinister going on. What follows is a great mystery that twists and turns more times than a hog roast.

The supporting cast are great. The ever reliable Pen is a constant in Felix’s life, but the workers in the archive are also well portrayed. There are other supernatural creatures and they are described in vivid detail but also succeed in being believable.

As I mentioned, the setting is mostly in London, and so personally it is great to picture the locations that Felix traverses. Especially as I have just started working nearby one or two.

I am struggling to come up with any negatives about the book. It is no epic novel I guess, but it is exactly what it sets out to be. A fun tale, a little gruesome in places but overall great stuff. My rating: 8.8  

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