Felix Castor used to cast out demons for a living, and London was his stomping ground. But in a time when the supernatural realm is in upheaval and spilling over into the mundane world of the living, his skills are in renewed demand. With old debts to pay, Castor is left with no choice but to accept one final, well-paying assignment: a seemingly simple exorcism.
Trouble is, the more he discovers about the ghost in the archive, the more things refuse to add up - and the more deeply he's dragged into a world he wants no part of. What should have been a perfectly straightforward job is rapidly turning into a "who can kill Castor first" competition, with demons, were-beings, and ghosts all keen to claim the big prize. But that's okay. Castor knows how to deal with the dead. It's the living who piss him off.
©2007 Mike Carey; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"[An] ingeniously multilayered tale." (Publishers Weekly)
"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)
"An imaginative spin on the hard-boiled detective…Devil mixes horror and humor in a way that spells good omens for future Castor novels." (Entertainment Weekly)
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
I have become a big fan of modern (often urban) fantasy because I've found that this genre is just the right fit for me when I have to deal with something I hate - mostly jogging, housework, or being sick in bed - those times that I really need a good distraction but don't have the wherewithal for "deep" literature. I don't expect this kind of fiction to be War and Peace, but I still really appreciate good writing; great characters, engrossing plot, wide and descriptive vocabulary, etc. There have been several series I have enjoyed a lot - Iron Druid, Dresden Files, Peter Grant, Sookie Stackhouse to name a few - but Felix Castor is my new Favorite because this is some of the best writing I've come across in this genre. I can hardly believe that Mike Carey is best known for comics and graphic novels because he is such a good writer.
Felix Castor is a exorcist in a modern world that has veered strangely off-track. Ghosts, spirits, and demons that may have been around all along have suddenly made their presence well and truly known to almost everyone and a lot of consternation and some mayhem is the result. Felix with his innate talent for being able to "name that ghost's tune" and play the spirit on outta here with his whistle is in a primo position to rake in the big bucks except for one thing - this spirit detective is carrying some heavy duty baggage. Felix isn't haunted by a ghost, he's haunted by his own past and although he's an avowed atheist he has never successfully shut down his own conscience. Felix's own moral sense is what drives him to be a detective in addition to an exorcist; he has to understand why things are happening as they are rather just banishing the spirit miscreant out of hand. The character of Felix Castor is wonderfully complex and so interesting - he's got a self deprecating dry humor that comes through in every thought or word; he's brash, thoughtful, stubborn, loyal and totally a guy you'd want to be friends with.
Like Dresden or Peter Grant, the Felix Castor series is all told First Person so the voice of the central character on audio is critical. Michael Kramer as the narrator for the first three books is simply marvelous. His voice has just a touch of the Joe Friday world-weary detective tone in it to sound just right for Felix and he does good character voices (including good voices for women and demons). My only criticism of the series as a whole is that the narrator changes to Damian Lynch with book 4. It's not that Mr. Lynch is bad, it's just that I find it really irritating that audio production companies have so little respect for their customers that they can't appreciate how frustrating such a change is especially with a First Person narrative. So, if you listen to The Devil You Know, you should just be aware that you will probably want the whole series and you'll have to face the narrator change down the road.
The magic system is unique, interesting, and consistent; the characters are engaging and multi-dimensional and both the real people and the other-worldly have unique personalities (interesting twists on zombies and succubi); the prose is dark and rich with much sardonic wit woven in; and the plot lines are very entertaining. The series is set up like the best of serial stories with a primary plot that is resolved in each book and overarching story lines that tie the series together and provide for a grand finale in the last book. I got so caught up in this series that I listened to all five books before I could make myself take time to write a review. However, the plus side of that is that I can recommend not only this book, but the whole series to anyone who has a taste for Urban Fantasy. And, there are rumors that Carey will publish a sixth book in the series (maybe 2013?) so you want to be ready!
This was the best urban fantasy audiobook I've listened to ever. I bemoan the fact that Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series isn't available here, and up to now, I've had to make do with Kelley Armstrong and Charlaine Harris. Both of the latter are competent writers, but they always bog down the plot with romance elements.
Then along comes Mike Carey and melds the world of urban fantasy with the quirky, cynical narrative voice of the hard-boiled detective novels I loved as a teen. The characters are sharply drawn, the plot moves along swiftly and had me guessing right to the end, and the hero is someone I would like to spend an evening drinking with.
I agree with other reviewers that the voice actor did an excellent job of narrating the story, hitting just the right balance between snarky and straight-on suspenseful.
I just wish it were July already, so I could listen to the next book in this series.
No. Unlike most reviewers I didn't get the book's dry English humor. The first half of the book was a lot of work and I didn't understand many of the references. I am a lover of the dresden files, and I was hoping this book would be similar. I just couldn't connect with the characters in the same way. The book did redeem itself somewhat in the second half because it did involve a good mystery. That said, I don't think I'll read the next in the series. Sorry folks. Couldn't jump on this bandwagon.
Fake English accent.
This tale of necromancer Felix Castor gives listeners a different type of mystery. Fix, as he is known to his friends, is an exorcist. In this first of a currently short series of two novels, Fix is engaged in exorcising a ghost from the Bonnington, a local archive establishment. A seemingly routine matter, Fix begins his queries in order to establish where, exactly, the ghost is and is surprised to find that the ghost is violent, an unusual characteristic for the "undead." The job begins to unravel, putting Fix in danger from the living, the undead, and a demon succubus named Juliet who has been contracted to kill Fix. Throughout all of it, Fix remains calm and the listener sees him turn from a necromancer seeking to make a buck to a necromancer righting a wrong. The tale keeps the listener engaged and overall it's a fun read. The birthday party scene at the beginning of the book is not really necessary to the tale, so it takes about three chapters to settle in. Nevertheless, the book is relatively well edited and there isn't a lot of filler after that. Narrator Michael Kramer has a good range of character voices, so it's easy to know who's talking. The listener does have to believe in a netherworld in order to enjoy the book. The ending is nicely done. It's not rushed, nor elongated, and sets up book two, Vicious Circle. Mike Carey develops his characters well and the listener has just as good a chance at solving the mystery as Fix does.
The story is essentially a mystery investigation with some magic. The characters are engaging and the story was not predictable. That is what really matters in a mystery. I look forward to this detective in future stories. I would like to get to know him better.
Michael Kramer is a great story teller, his English accent slips alot, and while I did notice I was suprised that I really did not mind. He was a pleasure to listen to.
I loved the story. The characters were strong, and the plot was pretty engaging. I'm a completely plot driven reader so that, in and of itself is saying something. However, I found the writing difficult to listen to. It's so heavily laced with metaphor/simile that it almost got in the way: "And the beggars who sit exhausted in the doorways, their hollow-eyed stares spearing you like the Ancient Mariner’s" ... I think it may have been easier to read rather than listen to. Overall though, a thumbs up - I'll read the next, for sure!
Although it might be heresy, this series is borderline better than the Dresden Files. I enjoyed the more adult aspect. The characters in the story is in the, twisted, and intriguing. I would recommend this to anyone who was a fan of adult fiction including Harry Potter, Hunger Games Dresden Files
It's not a very long book, but it's a very long read. It's very hard to keep interest in what's going on because not a lot goes on for a while. Things are described in way too much detail at times. However, my biggest problem with this book is that Felix Castor is not a powerhouse. Not that every character needs to be, I love the Alex Verus series. But it was hard to ally myself with the character when his motivations were not very clear and he could get his ass kicked at the drop of a hat.
Mike Carey wrote more Castor novels after this, but The Devil You Know is the best of the series so far.
Michael Kramer is an excellent narrator, giving life to each character and fitting the tone and style of the novel superbly. (I found him so good that when I read the next two novels of the series in paperback, I could hear Kramer's voice in my head - wonderful!)
The birthday party is a fitting opening to Castor's story, giving just the right glimpse of his lifestyle, motives and sense of humor. All in all, an excellent alternate reality tale, putting a great spin on the concept of "were" kind. Succubus Juliet is beautifully rendered for all five senses.
Sadly, Vicious Circle and Dead Men's Boots are not as good, but I liked The Devil You Know so much that I will give Thicker Than Water a try, even go so far as to order from the UK before it is even released in the states...
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
I don't like the Dresden Files books so when I saw this one compared to it I was leery. I'm glad I gave it a whirl anyway. I guess I can see the similarities - Dresden and Castor both live in an urban fantasy world, with the ability to interact with supernatural creatures... but...
Firstly, Felix is not nearly as smug (full of himself/world rotates around him type attitude) as Dresden.
More importantly though, Carey's story is much more mature, darker, and quite serious. He tries to lighten it with some humor (which doesn't fall completely flat), but the topic and storyline is dark. And Carey has a huge "detective" component to this story - sure, it's an urban fantasy, but Felix is trying to solve a crime/mystery throughout and the plot and characters are all used toward this end. The story isn't spent introducing this supernatural creature, then that one, then another... it's spent with Felix trying to solve a crime - before he was even convinced there was one.
It's primarily a detective novel that includes ghosts and it was good enough, and mature enough, that I bought the rest in the series. Oh, and it had an interesting/original take on the origins of were-creatures which made a nice change. The narration is good.
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