Mike Carey, The Devil You Know (2006)

I’m a bit tired of Urban Fantasy. A few years ago, tired with Epic Fantasy, I picked up Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series and it was the start of my flirt with this particular subgenre. Now my focus is on different stuff, but I’m still following a few authors (Jim Butcher! Publish some Dresden novels! It’s been years!!). And sometimes something new, or at least previously unknown to me, comes my way.


The Devil You Know by Mike Carey is not exactly new, having been published in 2006, but somehow escaped my notice until recently, when, in despair, I was searching for some Urban Fantasy that would not border on paranormal romance. I don’t really want to read much more about magnetic effect overly muscular wolf-men have on women.

Mike Carey’s Felix Castor series has five books, and looks finished (the last one is from 2009), which is a nice thing, I don’t want my series too long these days. And the author is not someone obscure, he wrote many interesting comics, including Neverwhere’s adaptation I really like.

The book itself is a first person paranormal noir a couple shades darker than average Urban Fantasy. Main protagonist, Felix Castor (that’s why the series is called Felix Castor series, you know…), is an exorcist and he start the first novel knowing one devil, bound to Earth thanks to his old fuck-up. We have much to learn about the supernatural of this particular version of London, but the existence of Hell is heavily implied, and there are no angels to be seen. Although the Church is alive and kicking, unsurprisingly looking down on freelancers. I don’t know enough yet to pass my judgement on the worldbuilding, but it starts well.

We have a more than competent description of chosen parts of the city, with obligatory bitching about architecture, usual early stages of alcoholism (we like the same beer!), some nice friends that could form an ensemble of adorable misfits later on… altogether not very imaginative, but very nice. And written relatively early during the urban fantasy craze, so some of the authors I’ve read a few years ago were actually borrowing from Carey…

if life gives you lemming, jump off a cliff

Sweet 🙂 But it does not mean Felix throws puns around like some Harry Dresden. His humour is dry, sarcastic, much more restrained than I expect these days. And so is the book s as a whole. Despite of all my love for Butcher, and because of my disappointments with other authors, I was more than ready for something like this.

Oh, and the EU bureaucracy is the work of Satan, who also fixes stock prices. So maybe Brexit is not all bad. Although these are just theories of a certain undead guy.

The story is sad, and, while not that unpredictable, engaging. There are several ways the story can go from this point, and I’m rather hopeful for the rest of Felix Castor novels.

It turns out that Carey doesn’t need pictures to give his readers good time 🙂

Score: 7/10

2 thoughts on “Mike Carey, The Devil You Know (2006)

  1. Sounds interesting… I confess to having a similar feeling of ennui lately – whether I am reading UF or epic fantasy, there is usually something … awry with the book. I seem to have a streak of mediocre reads – but these are the same books that many people praise and cherish (The Magicians, anyone? 😉 The Mirror Empire?). Carey might be something of an antidote to it – although I have already found one, in the infallible Adrian Czajkowski and his world of Apt 😉 But more on that next week 🙂


  2. Pingback: Brian McClellan, Uncanny Collateral (2019) | Re-enchantment Of The World

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