17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent debut novel from a great comic writer
Fans of HellBlazer will recognise the name Mike Carey, as will fans of Lucifer, the ongoing series from Vertigo comics.
Carey's been writing in the comics world for quite some time now, recently carrying on some of the fae stories started in Neil Gaiman's Sandman as well as developing Lucifer and taking the reigns of writing Constantine stories.
Published on 25 May 2006 by Mr. Stephen Davies
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let's put this in perspective
Carey is a clever guy, a good writer and someone who has written some of the most interesting fantasy and horror comics of the last decade. But this novel, the first in his Felix Castor series, is distinctly average. This is simply what it is, the first in a series of supernatural whodunnits, and obviously it has a lot to set up (the universe we find ourselves in, the...
Published on 4 Aug 2009 by Mr. I. S. Fairholm
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to very quickly become a social pariah,
This review is from: The Devil You Know: A Felix Castor Novel, vol 1 (Paperback)I am far too lazy to write reviews but am breaking my habit in this case. I loved the story, but what made the book so special were the times when I laughed out loud! I really enjoyed the dry and ironic way the writer descibed things eg I took an instant dislike to him to save time later........ This is a keeper and I am recommending it to friends and family - although they can get their own copy. I have also been tormenting them by reading my favourite sentences over the phone - hence my title!
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read with some padding,
This review is from: The Devil You Know: A Felix Castor Novel, vol 1 (Paperback)I find Carey's alternative London, full of ghosts and zombies to be fascinating and I've never seen anything like his take on were-creatures before (essentially, they're ghosts that bind animal flesh to themselves to form a human shape). He skillfully uses Felix Castor's first person perspective to help navigate through this world and Castor's distinctive voice easily makes you buy into what is happening.
The central mystery to the story revolves around a veiled ghost haunting a documentary archive in central London. From a benign start the ghost has started to attack some of the employees and the curator wants it exorcised as quickly as possible. The problem is that Castor has been warned that getting involved in the case could kill him and as he tries to work out who the ghost is and why she's haunting the building, he discovers links with a sinister underworld criminal who brings new meaning to the word 'ruthless' and also to rogue exorcists who are taking their art to frightening levels.
There is some padding to the story - notably a scene where Castor visits Bunhill Row cemetary to try and center himself, which doesn't add a great deal. Strictly speaking, I think that the beginning of the story (where Castor is performing as a magician for a childrens' party) is an obvious way to crowbar in one plot strand aimed at fleshing out the mystery. It's entertaining but I wonder if Carey could have achieved the same effect in a different way.
I also thought that some of the characters were a little cardboard cut out. For example, the main villain has evil written through him like a stick of rock, which kind of takes away some of the mystery element, and makes the ending a little predictable. This is particularly disappointing when Castor himself is such a multi-levelled character - a reluctant hero who's not entirely comfortable with what he does.
I'm surprised to find this book labelled as a horror novel, when to me it seemed to be quintessential urban fantasy. There are some disturbing moments - notably with the succubus Juliet but the description isn't excessively gory and does fit in with the plot. All in all it's a good, solid read and with enough dark humour to keep you wryly chuckling.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let's put this in perspective,
This review is from: The Devil You Know: A Felix Castor Novel, vol 1 (Paperback)Carey is a clever guy, a good writer and someone who has written some of the most interesting fantasy and horror comics of the last decade. But this novel, the first in his Felix Castor series, is distinctly average. This is simply what it is, the first in a series of supernatural whodunnits, and obviously it has a lot to set up (the universe we find ourselves in, the rules, the background and the soon-to-be regular characters) but it takes too long to do all that, unfortunately, and suffers a little as a standalone novel in its own right.
Carey presents an alternative London, one he's partly borrowed from Neil Gaiman's 'Neverwhere' (a series Carey clearly loves because he adapted the 'Neverwhere' novel into a comic book series), but 'The Devil You Know' lacks the full three-dimensionality and sense of fantastical history of Gaiman's hidden London novel. Carey's London is one full of all forms of risen dead and other supernatural beasties - ghosts, zombies, succubi and werewolves. As I say, there's a lot to set up and Carey takes a fair stab at introducing us to a world that is very like our own, except that the supernatural is just a little more commonplace than we're used to. Carey dabbles a little in the legal and social consequences of such a world, but that's hardly his main focus.
Our view of this world comes via Felix Castor's first person perspective. Castor is an exorcist, a job that is slightly more commonplace in his world than ours, though Castor is also basically a gumshoe detective (by any other name), a smart-mouthed cynic with little money, few job prospects, and even fewer friends, who gets dragged reluctantly into apparently simple cases but quickly finds himself in over his head. Here he's brought in to investigate... sorry, exorcise a veiled ghost haunting a place of work. But what starts out as a seemingly simple case becomes increasingly complicated as Castor finds himself dealing with police, gangsters, rogue exorcists and even demons. What you get, if anything, is stylistically more akin to Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade, or even Inspector Jack Frost, than John Constantine (for those of you expecting more 'Hellblazer'-type stuff from Carey), it's just that this private detective novel has ghosts and monsters in it. It's a neat trick and overall Carey just about carries it off.
As has been said elsewhere, there's a lot of padding in the story - some of it is necessary to set-up Castor's world and back story, but arguably this 470 page book would have been better had it been trimmed down by about 100 pages. There's just not 470 pages worth of story here, unfortunately. Some story elements could have been easily jettisoned or tightend up, which would have produced a far less flabby and much more punchy opening to the series.
The characters vary in how interesting they are. Castor himself is promising with his world-weary atheism and smart mouth, but he seems to have limited abilities in this first novel. Too often Carey doesn't seem to know what to do with the character. Thankfully this is resolved by the second book of the series, though if anything he perhaps becomes a bit too much of a superhero or a James Bond-style hero by then. Here Castor is perhaps a bit too passive and indecisive, even pathetic at times, but by the second book Carey has perhaps toughened him up a touch too much. It'll be interesting to see how things develop with the third book onwards. Other characters are less well developed, in some cases because they don't need to be, and in other cases because they get further coverage in later books. The supporting cast, like Castor, show potential but at this stage that's all.
In the end, this is a promising start to a series that has the potential to be something really interesting. The second book in the series represents a big step up in terms of quality and although I guess you could skip straight to that you'd perhaps miss out on a few nuances and story-arc plot points in the process. But if you like the idea of what is basically a twisty-turny supernatural detective thriller then this should deliver most of what you'd what. It perhaps lacks some of the magic, awe and wonder that Carey has offered in comic book series like 'Lucifer' but this is aimed at a considerably more mainstream audience so it should come as no surprise. Anyway, this is a good start, albeit not a great one, but the second book, 'Vicious Circle', is where things definitely start to pick up. See this as the appetizer before the main course perhaps.
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark, thrilling brilliant read,
This review is from: The Devil You Know: A Felix Castor Novel (A Felix Castor Novel, vol 1) (Kindle Edition)The concept of this book, ghosts and demons and exorcism really appealed to me and Carey does a fantastic job with it. To me at least it was unique and exciting, a book hard to put down. There are no weak points at all I can think of. Strongly recommended for anyone who likes supernatural, first persons with a good mix of humour and action
5.0 out of 5 stars Wicked fun !,
This review is from: The Devil You Know: A Felix Castor Novel, vol 1 (Paperback)Felix Castor is the 'Eddie Shoestring' of exorcists; mishap-prone, out of cash and down on his luck. Taking on an apparently simple job, he stumbles into a tangle of dire complications...
I've now read #1~~3 in quick succession, enjoyed them immensely, but must now wait until month's end before ordering #4~5.
5.0 out of 5 stars The devil you know,
This review is from: The Devil You Know: A Felix Castor Novel (A Felix Castor Novel, vol 1) (Kindle Edition)Awesome absolutely brilliant opener to an amazing series would recommend to anyone who likes a bit of mild horror .
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent job of a first novel,
This review is from: The Devil You Know: A Felix Castor Novel (A Felix Castor Novel, vol 1) (Kindle Edition)Good book. A bit uneven with a rushed ending. Very good interpretation of a magic system. Will read the next one and see how that goes.
5.0 out of 5 stars Want more!,
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking and entertaining.,
5.0 out of 5 stars A stand out opening to a series,
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The Devil You Know: A Felix Castor Novel, vol 1 by Mike Carey (Paperback - 6 April 2006)