Saturday, 22 October 2011

Thoughts | The Devil You Know - Mike Carey

I don't like starting series halfway: but since this was in the library... Well, I picked it up and dashed off (sounds a bit like a crime, doesn't it?), as this novel had been recommended by Tom Lloyd in the comments - and very highly, too. Many thanks to him, I'm now halfway through the novel and enjoying it, so here, however brief, am I with my thoughts so far...
- Firstly, it's about a freelance exorcist - though reads much more like a darker, Dresden Files-esque crime novel. I wouldn't normally have picked this up, actually. However deep my love for the Dresden Files, ghosts just don't interest me in the same way that new takes on other supernatural critters do. Nevertheless, The Devil You Know was picked up, thanks to a great recommendation, and it's turned out a lot more interesting than I thought. Though its worldbuilding is minimal, there's some interesting clues: a resurgence of the dead, hints that what exorcists do may not be entirely benign...

- Secondly, it's much more a crime novel than most of The Dresden Files - which incorporate more traditional elements as well. Let's be honest - in the later books, the investigation is often just an excuse for some supernatural mayhem. Not so here: the plot is nicely intricate, and we're just getting to some very interesting revelations about our suspects. So far, I'd thoroughly recommend this for crime/UF crossover fans, or simply as a starting place for mystery fans to enter the genre.

- Thirdly, it's pretty dark. This is not a PG-friendly world: Castor swears with regularity (as expected, he's not having a fun time!), and there's no light, happy fluff. Well, so far. But somehow I don't expect it to get lighter!

- Cheryl, witness and possible romantic interest... Doesn't really interest me. This was the one letdown for me: though Rich comes off as a fully fleshed out character, I can't quite get a handle on Cheryl, who seems a little flat at times. Though maybe that's intentional!

Well, all I can really say so far is that I'm off to finish this book. Oh, and that I really need to thank Tom. ( :P) And tomorrow? You'll get my thoughts on my new toy Kindle.

Read this book, or plan to? Comment and tell me below!


  1. It's a great book and the series only gets better with each successive volume.

  2. Yep, I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series (which should be a lot easier to get my hands on now I've got an ereader). Have you read the Dresden Files, by the way?

  3. Of course. All of them and the short stories too. :D My faves!

  4. You started reading in the middle of the series? This sounds like blasphemy, lol. I wouldn't be able to do it! I'm a little on the OCD side, though - I don't even like to start watching a TV series if I haven't seen the first episodes. I also can't watch a movie on TV if it's one I haven't seen before and it's already started - even if it's only about ten minutes in.

    Annnd I think I've made myself sound sufficiently crazy, so I'll leave off now. lol! Have a good weekend!

  5. @Scott: Dammit, stop stealing my tastes! :P Yep, I enjoyed Side Jobs too, though you could really see the drastic improvement until you got to the latest stories. Ghost Story and Changes have to be my absolute favourites, though: Mab and Lea, haha.

    @ Colleen: I am condemned to eternal literary punishment for my sins. Heh, I don't normally like it, but when I see a copy I've been recommended just sitting before my eyes on the library bookshelf? Well, how could any self-occupied bibliophile resist>

    Normally, though, I totally agree! I'm a bit like that with finishing series: unless compelled to drop by sheer awfulness, I WILL finish a series.

  6. ;0) Very glad you're enjoying it! Is it the middle of the series though? Could have sworn it was the first one, but it's been a few years...

    Hmm, what to foist upon you next...?

  7. Haha, just looked it up and realised it was the first after all (saved!) - the books were just listed in the wrong order. :P Whoops. It was a great recommendation, thanks - I've finished it now, and the ending completely succeeded in meeting the promises. (And the last two pages - well, I had to laugh. I couldn't expect THAT).

    What to foist on me? (Totally misread that as Faust just now). Well, if you've got any more recs as good as that one... But I think I'll have to find something to recommend for you now, heh! Well, if we're on the subject of Urban Fantasy, have you read A Madness of Angels? Not so much crime-based, but in terms of pure life and UF worldbuilding, it's fantastic. One of the best quirks as well, though I won't spoil it if you haven't read. :P

  8. Phew, thought I'd missed one out too!

    A Madness of Angels is one I really need to buy, have heard such good things about it. I'm hugely suspicious of urban fantasy generally as lots of it's aimed towards markets that aren't me, but that's one I really should have read by now. I wish I could read faster, there are so many I should have read...

    Just looking at the shelves beside me... I suspect you'll have read most of 'em. One does jump out though as I hear his next is finally on it's way - ever read the Gone Away World?

  9. I feel the same way about a lot of urban fantasy - or at least the parts of it which could equally well be labelled as 'paranormal romance'. A Madness of Angels, though, is genuinely fantastic - yes, it has flaws (some side characters aren't sufficiently developed and Griffin's prose doesn't have the beauty of some), but taken as a whole, it's very, very fresh. Heh, I'm almost the opposite - I get stuck for what to read next because I read too fast.

    Hm, no, I haven't. Thanks for that, I've just ordered it from the library (they seem to have quite a few copies, actually, so should arrive pretty soon!).

    Writing in the subgenre yourself, what are your tastes in epic fantasy, by the way? Have you read Sanderson? I'm a huge fan of his world of Roshar, which is completely alien - everything has adapted to a pattern of regular (and abrasive!) highstorms, so you get shelled vegetation, coral, etc. The cultures he's built, as well as the religion, are equally interesting (the symmetry going on with, say, the keteks).

  10. My epic tastes, as I like to describe them...

    Hmm, currently reading Salute the Dark, which is a consistently good series, Ragged Man (in advance of the editing of Dusk WAtchman) and a non-fiction called the Wild Places.

    Read all the Malazan books, and Abercrombie's, waiting for the new George Martin in paperback... and that's all I can think of off-hand. I read a certain amount of epic, but I tend to dip into a variety of types to ensure I'm not reading too much of anything. So that last ones I've read have been Fuller Memorandum, which I loved, Poor Things, which was good until the crazy people started speaking, & Something Wicked This Way Comes. And Retribution Falls will be probably next in line once I finish one of the three I'm currently on, since I want something shorter before tacking something like a Neal Stephenson.

    As for Brandon Sanderson, I've read Final Empire and enjoyed it, but weirdly don't feel much desire at all to read the rest of that series. I'll probably grab Way of Kings when it's out in a smaller format, but I won't rush as he seems to build everything around a single hook in a rather American way - nothing wrong with that, but if the hook doesn't REALLY excite me...

  11. Ah, Dusk Watchman - really looking forward to that one. (now, who was the author, again? :P ) Excuse me while I kidnap you (that clink's the grappling hook) and sit you down to write me my own private copy. On a typewriter. Mwahaha.

    Uh. Joking.

    Yes, I agree regarding variety - I can't read epic for too long without wondering in each book 'So, how does this missing cat escalate to put the fate of the universe at stake?'. That said, I can read Erikson forever. I'm waiting for the new Esslemont right now. Kind of a mix of epic and urban, but I've just been reading Master of the House of Darts, which is fascinating. Who can turn down a crime-solving Aztec priest of death as a protagonist? It's fun to see that someone's taken more of the Aztec culture than just the token foreigner 'human sacrifice people' that we so frequently glimpse, hehe.

    Neal Stephenson is a worthwhile marathon. I broke my baggage allowance getting Anathem into Canada, and it was worth every page of pure concentrated door-stopperiness. Retribution Falls is very fun, though. (I will admit a strong weakness for airships, however. And Retribution Falls has a LOT of airships)

    Sanderson is one I'd really recommend, actually. Final Empire is less so, but outside Mistborn he definitely expands beyond a single hook (Mistborn is a little focused, but the idea of the second book makes it worth it). The Way of Kings has so many hooks that it's essentially introduction, though I see it as the best so far. A shorter take on Sanderson might be Warbreaker, which is standalone: not quite up to Mistborn #3 or WoK, but gives you a good taste for what he's like. Plus it was written later than Final Empire.


  12. Rothfuss I really enjoyed, despite the implausible skilled toddler and thinking Kvothe is kindof a dick. Soured a bit by the crazy hype surrounding it too - it is a very good novel and as easy to read as Harry Potter, which is a nebulous skill I'd love to acquire, but it's not the best novel ever and I don't see how it really turns the genre on its head as some believe.

    But all that aside, I had a blast reading it. When the second one isn't big enough to accidentally topple and crush me, I shall read that too - but if it takes a while and the hype fades, i'll enjoy it all the more.

  13. Yes, Rothfuss is a fantastic storyteller - though Kvothe is almost too competent for my liking. I'll admit a liking for characters possessed of less 'plotly omnipotence' - in the sense that Kvothe can do, or learn to do, basically anything that the plot demands. Still, it's great fun to read.

    The second one is much more episodic in feel, actually. I'm hoping the third will take us to the more tragic Kvothe that we can see in the frame story, because The Wise Man's Fear doesn't really move that far. Still, enjoyable.

    Heh, I guess it's difficult to tie everything together to conclude a series. It's hard to imagine how it's possible with Kingkiller #3 without breaking not only the page count record but also the spines of the readers. :P