Thursday, March 7, 2013

Review | The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

The Devil You Know
Mike Carey
Felix Castor #1
Published 2007 by Warner Books (Hachette)
Urban fantasy
3 stars

Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist, and London is his stamping ground. It may seem like a good ghost buster can charge what he likes and enjoy a hell of a lifestyle--but there's a risk: Sooner or later he's going to take on a spirit that's too strong for him. While trying to back out of this ill-conceived career, Castor accepts a seemingly simple ghost-hunting case at a museum in the shadowy heart of London - just to pay the bills, you understand. But what should have been a perfectly straightforward exorcism is rapidly turning into the Who Can Kill Castor First Show, with demons and ghosts all keen to claim the big prize. That's OK: Castor knows how to deal with the dead. It's the living who piss him off...

Bite-Sized Review
The Devil You Know is a fairly intriguing start to a new series despite a slightly dragging middle.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-The world is sort of a less malevolent version of Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts series. In spite the abundance of necromancers in the world of urban fantasy, exorcists seem to be in short supply, so it's always interesting to see one. And with the huge variety of legends and beliefs surrounding ghosts and life after death, that kind of world-building allows an author to be very creative.

-The mystery remains a mystery until the solution is actually revealed. I cycled through a number of suspects and never guessed the real culprit, much less the full horror of what happens. Granted, parts of the story are clear pretty early on, but for much of it I wasn't even close. The Devil You Know is a dark and gritty story, another feature it shares with Downside Ghosts.

-While the book doesn't end in a cliffhanger (fortunately), it does leave quite a few possibilities for future stories. There's just enough question to keep the reader interested in the next book without being actually painful. (I'm looking at you, Fever.)

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
-The book could have been tightened up a bit, especially in the middle. There's a point where Fix has no idea what's going on, and that point stretches out for more than a bit too long. I think I would have finished this book a lot faster if I hadn't kept getting distracted because I was bored in the middle.

-I'm not really enamored of any of the characters. I don't dislike any of them, they just don't seem to have enough personality to actually have real feelings about. This particular issue is something that could definitely resolve itself in later books, so I'm hoping the problem will eventually disappear.

Recommended for
Fans of Downside Ghosts or Simon R. Green's Nightside series.

Quality: Acceptable
Enjoyability: Acceptable

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