I can’t really remember how I came across Felix Castor. I think it was because I was looking for books that had the same line as Harry Dresden, and I stumbled with this one. I was in the mood for something dark and gritty anyway so this one was a good choice. Perfect for the spooky season too.
The Devil You Know by Mike Carey is the story of Felix Castor, an exorcist who’s dirt poor and lives (practically for free) with his good friend Pen (who’s name is Pamela but somehow she prefers to be called Pen). He gets rid of ghosts for a fee and when he accepts a job of eliminating a ghost in a museum it’s more than he bargained for. He finds himself a target and the only way to find out the real story is to figure out the story of the ghost he has to eliminate first. As he gets deeper into the bottom of this mystery, he faces more dangerous circumstances and instead of getting rid of the ghost, he attempts to help it first.
I can see the small similarities between the Harry Dresden series and this one. There are differences though. I found Felix Castor more dark and grittier than Dresden. It definitely more “noir” and having the setting taking place in London is perfect. London is so dark and wet most of the time and cold. I think the setting fits well and is described perfectly for this novel. The world here is much different than present day. The dead and ghosts are actually out and we’re aware that they are. Most of the time though, they actually don’t bother us except for a select few that have risen up to settle some differences. There is plenty of magic but it’s not in the way of Harry Potter it’s more darker and more realistic.
I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this book. It started off a little slow and I had to nearly force myself to get into it. Eventually it started picking up and I got more interested. It was especially interesting that although it’s paranormal in regards to ghosts and other creatures (there’s a loup garou but not what you usually think it would be..it’s different). There’s also an underlying realistic element in it as naturally the ghost is there with a reason and has a story to tell (ie; how she became a ghost) so real life comes into play just as much as the paranormal side does in this book. Which is good it’s a nice mixture and it’s done nicely so that the magic parts come naturally and it doesn’t seem so out of the ordinary, it actually feels like everyday life.
I think the other reason why it took me a while to get into it, is because in the beginning, Felix goes through a huge narration on explaining how he got to this point, and how he met certain characters and their background stories. He does this throughout the book and although the explanations are great and provides a nice depth to the novel, some of them are too detailed and rather long winded. Then I’m left wondering where did we leave off and what does this have to do with it? although the background information is nice, it should have been done in small specific paragraphs but not deviate entirely from the main plot. This could be a deterrent to some readers and those reading might feel like putting the book to the side and leave it for another day, but try and get through it. You’ll find it connects the dots in one way or another and it leaves the story more complete and more detailed.
As for characters I like Felix. He’s got wit and a dark sense of humor. I’m not sure if you could call him your typical detective in a noir book as although he does have an eye for the ladies I don’t think he really has much of a charm or is that charismatic. To me he’s more like a good guy friend who you’d have a drink with and just relax. He’s likable, don’t get me wrong and there are certainly parts in the book where I found myself laughing at him because of comments he’s made either towards others or towards himself but he’s lacking in something. He just falls short of standing out. I guess what I am trying to say is, it took me a while to warm up to him and even then although I like him, there’s no strong attachment or anything.
The plot is great and albeit for the slow start, putting the pieces together was a puzzle for me and it was fun trying to guess what it was. You’re left guessing what it is and in the end I was sort of right, but wrong as well. I had the wrong idea. It was well done with how the ends were all tied and no questions asked except in regards to Felix’ past and what will happen next (there are more books to this series). The ending was great and I’m curious as to what will happen. I will be reading the second book definitely however I’m hoping it won’t be as slow starting as this one.
Overall, it’s not a bad book! give it a try if you’re a fan of Harry Dresden but want something more realistic, more dark, and with more grit. You’ll find it’s actually quite good and well worth the wait.
I give it a 7 out of 10.