If you have ever read any of my graphic novel or comic book reviews, you might know about my not-so-secret love *cough* obsession *cough* with Mike Carey. Back in 2006 when I first came across the book, The Devil You Know, I was finishing up Carey’s Lucifer series. I saw the book at my local comic book shop and immediately grabbed it. Unfortunately, I was starting grad school at the time, and the book got tossed to the side. Once I graduated, I assumed I would finally get a chance to read some books for fun. Sadly, the real world does not give you as much free time as you think it should. Instead, I turned to audio books, and one of the first that I purchased was The Devil You Know.
It is a little sad that I own the physical book yet I chose to listen to it as an audio book, but I have an hour’s commute into work, then an hour and a half back (stupid LA traffic). An audio book just made more sense, and in the end, it was worth every penny. The Devil You Know is the first in a series of novels by Mike Carey, starring the character of Felix Castor. Castor is a reluctant exorcist in a world where ghosts and demons are somewhat the norm. We’re not talking a vampire-dominated world like True Blood, but rather a London where ghosts and zombies are everywhere, and about 85% of the population can see them.
Castor was able to interact with ghosts well before they became widespread, and as a result, has been exorcising them since he was a child (his first exorcism being his sister). As a result of some traumatic dealings with demons in the past, we start the book with Castor in the midst of a self-imposed “retirement” from exorcism. Unfortunately, he needs money, and exorcism is the only real skill he has. Therefore, he takes on a job that seems fairly straightforward, but of course we wouldn’t have a story if it was.
The audio book is narrated by Michael Kramer and lasts about 14 hours. Kramer does a fabulous job reading the first person narrative of Castor, a snarky and sarcastic detective. As a fair warning, I’m a big fan of dry British humor and this book has tons of it. If that isn’t your thing, this might not be the best book for you. However, if you are a fan of old-school detective novels and/or a fan of fun supernatural stories, I think this book (either as a printed text or an audio book) is definitely worth picking up.
Another bit of warning: the story gets a bit gruesome near the end, and it deals with abuse against women. Still, I think it is all handled very well. Yes, Castor comes to the rescue (as any good hard-boiled detective would), but at the same time, the women don’t go down without a good fight.
Carey creates a world that is so engaging and engrossing that, when I was nearing the end of the audio book but had just arrived home, I immediately ran in and picked up the actual book. I had to know how the story ended! More than once, I found myself sitting in my car at least five minutes after I arrived at a destination because I wanted to hear how a chapter ended. It is just that kind of story.
The characters aren’t perfect people, but you still want to root for them. It is established (quite nicely I might add) in the first chapter that Castor is a jerk. He will do whatever he wants to do regardless of how it might impact others around him, and yet you still grow to love him. The other characters could do with some more development, especially his landlady and best friend, Pen, and his former best friend, Rafi. They are both very important to Felix’s past, but so far, we haven’t learned nearly as much as I would like about their back-stories. However, from what I can tell of the second book of the series, Vicious Circle, we’re going to learn more about all of the regulars in his life as time goes on.
To sum up, my love affair with Mike Carey continues. If you aren’t a fan of graphic novels or just don’t feel like getting started with a bigger series such as Lucifer, I strongly recommend checking out this book in either the physical book or an audio book format. The story is strong enough that I believe it would work in either form. I highly recommend Felix Castor if you’re a fan of snarky, brash British characters.
Have you read the series? What are your thoughts?
This guest post was contributed by Stephanie Wooten.