Review: The Devil You Know

Posted: October 9, 2009 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Mike Carey, Urban Fantasy

Remember when we said we found a few new series? This is another one of them. And it came with our friend, Tom Lloyd’s recommendation. We know right? How could we NOT start this series up?!

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Mike Carey (Amazon) is an Urban Fantasy that you will mostly likely find shelved in the horror section of your local bookstore. It is about an exorcist, Felix Castor, who is looking to get out of the game, but predictably takes one last job. That job is a haunting of a museum in London. Obviously, things go to hell in a hand-basket. Quite literally actually. Demon’s and all that.

We understand that this isn’t a new formula. Felix is pretty downtrodden, and he’s poor, and he can be a tad snarky at times. (Not quite as snarky as Nick though.) Sound familiar? We’re pretty sure we see Simon R. Green and Jim Butcher jumping up and down waving their arms in the back of the class, despite us telling Butcher to go stand in the corner repeatedly. Yeah. The formula won’t be a big surprise.

Luckily for you (and us), the writing and the tone were what set this novel apart. Carey’s novel is decidedly grimmer with less comedic content. You know what? This is a good thing. The PoV is an EXORCIST for heaven’s sake (Hehe, that wasn’t even intentional! Dang we are good!). This novel just FEELS different than the typical Urban Fantasy you see today. And boys and girls, it feels good.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is about exorcist Felix Castor who is looking to get out of the game, but takes one last job: a haunting of a London museum.

It a sense, it feels like Carey took the Harry Dresden character from Butcher’s novels and hardened the edges a bit. Felix Castor is a borderline alcoholic. He’s more violent. He cracks jokes less often. He’s made a ton more irreparable mistakes (some explained in detail, with others left for the sequels). And those mistakes have had serious consequences. The character is darker. We love it.

Now that isn’t to say there aren’t problems. Carey’s transitions can be pretty poor. Sometimes we would start a new chapter, and be completely unsure what was going on for several pages. More than once we were checking to see if pages had been ripped out of our copies of the novel. Seriously, come on man. It happened enough times to be a nuisance. And a lot of these odd transitions were seemingly random scenes who’s only purpose was to give the PoV a “brilliant idea” later on. If the museum exorcism was his last job, then why does Castor take other jobs at the same time (well, apart from the heavy-handed foreshadowing they give)? Also, there is a lot of standing around. You’d think with a demon chasing you (The demon was well done. A mark better than the Butcher incarnation of the same type of demon), there’d be more… well, chasing.

Problems aside, there is a lot going right in this novel, and the sequels have made it onto our lengthy list of books that have us excited to read. There is a much more serious tone in this novel, and of course the question left for the readers at the end, “Where to the recipients of exorcism go?” THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is quite a fun and easy read, and you should definitely go pick up the paperback of it.

  • Recommended Age: 17+. Lots of prostitution references and showings, not to mention the idea of exorcism isn't for the young. Also, see the info below as well.
  • Language: Yessir. Some of the characters are particularly foul-mouthed.
  • Violence: Yeah, especially at the end. Some may consider it disturbing.
  • Sex: Our PoV is in a strip club for half the novel. And he is chased by a succubus. Who catches him. Yeah, there is some sex in this novel.

Go by Mike Carey’s website and give it a browse. He is a major player in the comic book arena, and his books seem to be pretty awesome.

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