Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Devil You Know Book Review Author Mike Carey

The Grumbling Gargoyle is back from her spell of 'Exorcising the Demons' and what better way to return than reviewing Mike Carey's The Devil You Know, so grab your crucifix and holy water and enjoy the review!

Meet Felix Castor, a man whose talents as an exorcist are much in demand as London becomes more and more saturated by the supernatural.  Felix is not only brilliant at his job he’s also freelance which enables him to charge whatever he feels like....and affords him one Hell of a lifestyle!

Or at least it did until he ‘Retired’ following a Devilish encounter from which he only just managed to survive.  Still, needs must and with old debts to attend to he is drawn back to his former Demon demonishing deeds when he accepts a seemingly simple exorcism.

Unfortunately, the ghost he is employed to exorcise, which haunts a London Hall of Records, proves to be more of a problem than Felix bargained for.  Realising that things are just not adding up Felix decides to investigate these peculiarities and the more he delves into the mystery the more he’s dragged into a world he’d have prefered to avoid.  A world where Demons, Were-Beings and Ghosts each vie against the other to claim the big prize which is...Felix Castor!

I’ll be frank...( yeah, yeah...’oh and who shall I be?’’re not funny ok? So Shh )...for the first few pages of this book I felt a tad lost and I re-read a couple of paragraphs over again just to find my feet as it were but upon reflection I feel my confusion was down to two things...1) I’m impatient and expect to fully grasp the style immediately and 2) I’m impatient and expect to fully grasp the style essentially, it was my fault ( colour me bad! ).  I think the best way to describe the genre of this book is ‘dark urban fantasy’ but by ‘dark’ I mean pitch black dark as dark can get...darker than the soul of an estate agent! do you get how ‘dark’ it is?

Castor lives in a London populated not only by its human multicultural inhabitants who harbour their own customs and beliefs but by various supernatural beings whom society simply accepts as existing...each with their own custom and belief structure too.  Walking dead stroll the streets...Werewolves lope along their merry way...( well...maybe ‘merry’s’ pushing it! )...and Ghosts, Poltergeists, Demons and all kinds of other paranormal paraphernalia reside alongside the other...but not necessarily in harmony.

Do not be fooled into thinking this book is some relatively mellow little noir-esque amuse isn’t! It’s a several course banquet of glutinous malevolence served with a generous side order of wry wit and sarcasm resting upon a bed of sheer brilliance!  Carey hits hard with an intelligent plot and strong character development.  You begin to feel as if you’ve known these people all of your life because he keeps their personalities ‘real’...( Oh don’t drone on about ‘cliche’ ...the description fits so it stays.  So there! )...

...Felix Castor, for example, is not without flaw...he can be rude, weak, loud, offensive, interfering, a bit of a people hater too...( no! I didn’t copy that from my CV !)... yet he’s also a fighter, extremely talented in his field of work and generally does mean well but a something that happened to him in his past, that he can’t put right, lies heavy upon his conscience and weighs him down, affecting his manner, his outlook on life and also his outlook on death.  Felix Castor is a troubled man...but if he’s not careful that title will soon become his epitaph!

With ‘The Devil You Know’ due to his remarkable expertise and evocative writing,  Carey has managed to maintain an impressive balance between each element of the book allowing for a feisty fusion of mystery, thriller, crime, drama along with the supernatural...with more action than a mattress in a brothel!  Locations ooze with ambience ranging from the creepy grandeur of the gothic to the seedy strip clubs of gangland which, whilst leaning towards a somewhat brutal storyline still carry a healthy thread of sardonic humour.

It’s an energetic read with its twists and turns, pushing you to one place then dragging you back to another, teasing your mind with the sensations of the strange before battering you with the bizarre.  By the end of the book you’ll feel as though you’ve been put through boot camp for the soul and senses...and you’ll have loved every minute of it!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Yes!’ll be delightfully grabbed by the ghouls with this one....Enjoy!...
By The Grumbling Gargoyle

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