Aside from the odd Stephen King, I had not enjoyed a gothic or horror novel in a long time until The Devil You Know by Mike Carey. Carey, better known for his Lucifer, Hellblazer comic book work, delivers an interesting, thrilling, original, horror story in The Devil You Know. Add to this The Devil You Know has a dash of ghostly sci-fi like that Doctor Who Season Two episode where the dead have come back in force, and a lot of the whodunit or boodunit as Castor investigates the death of the ghost that attacked a worker at a London museum.

What I appreciated most about this supernatural mystery novel by Mike Carey is Carey adroitly gives the reader all the necessary mythology and characterization in the first few chapters so all you have to do is go along for the ride. My main difficulty with many gothic novels is the reader needs the necessary “in” to the writer’s / main character’s world and this is usually done with a heavy hand or with the assumption the reader is in the writer’s head and automatically understands everything and the jargon. This is not the case for The Devil You Know so by chapter 3 you know pretty much everything you need to know to enjoy the story.

What also makes reading this gothic mystery by Mike Carey a fun experience is the main character, Felix Castor. He is a down on his luck clown by day and a somewhat reluctant exorcist by night. He has a sense of humor, an interesting voice, and makes the job of exorcist sound dangerous, magical, and fun.

Perhaps I enjoyed this gothic novel because it is more of a mystery novel in ghost’s clothing than the usual things that go bump in the night book. Castor eventually identifies the ghost he is to exorcize but something makes him put the exorcism itself on pause and, instead, look into why this particular person is dead. This is when other creatures of the night start trying to take him out.

Granted, The Devil You Know is a tad wee bit long, and like Peele, the man who originally hires Castor, you do sometimes wish he would get on with getting the job done. Still, this is a minor problem and perhaps due to the fact it had been a while since I had cracked a book like this one open. Then again, I am not sure there is a book quite like The Devil You Know by Mike Carey.

The Devil You Know
Mike Carey
Warner Books 2007
406 pages

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