quippe (quippe) wrote in bookish,

Vicious Circle by Mike Carey

The Blurb On The Back:

Felix Castor knows how to deal with the dead. It’s the living who piss him off ...

Castor has reluctantly returned to exorcism after the case of the Bonnington Archive ghost convinced him that he really can do some good with his abilities (“good”, of course, being a relative term when dealing with the undead). But his friend, Rafi, is still possessed; the succubus, Ajulutsikael (Juliet to her friends), still technically has a contract on him, and he’s still – let’s not beat around the bush – dirt poor.

Doing some consulting for the local constabulary helps pay the bills, but Castor needs a big, private job to really fill the hole in his overdraft. That’s what he needs. What he gets, good fortune and Castor not being on speaking terms, is a seemingly insignificant ‘missing ghost’ case that inexorably drags himself and his loved ones into the middle of a horrific plot to raise one of Hell’s fiercest demons.

And when Satanists, sacrifice farms, stolen spirits and possessed churches all appear on the same police report, the name of Felix Castor can’t be too far behind ...

The sequel to THE DEVIL YOU KNOW sees Felix Castor having returned to the exorcism business, offering his consulting services to the police to pay his bills while looking for better paying private client work. He still lives with Pen and is looking for a way to free his best friend Rafi from demonic possession by Asmodeus, one of the biggest badasses in Hell. He’s also working as a mentor to Juliet, the succubus who technically has a contract out on his soul but who’s set up her own business as an exorcist and demonologist in her own right.

Carey weaves together a complex plot involving Castor’s consultancy on a London gangland hit, Juliet’s investigation of a demonically possessed church, a sudden spate of violent murders that’s gripping the city, Rafi’s sudden recovery from his own possession and Castor’s investigation into the kidnapping of a girl’s ghost. The story-telling is masterly. Carey never loses control of his plot strands, pulling everything together in an incredible finale that continues the arc set up in THE DEVIL YOU KNOW and left me gagging to know what happens next.

What’s excellent about this book is that it’s an urban fantasy that uses London as an additional character. Carey uses the city’s geography both to keep the plot moving and also to show how darkness and light can coexist within the same setting. The settings are believable and whether Carey is depicting a riot in a shopping centre or Castor’s seedy office above a kebab shop, you believe in the location.

Also brilliant is the way Carey fleshes out his world. In addition to the loup garou, ghosts and demons that we’ve seen before, Carey introduces a secret branch of the Catholic church, an academic researcher whose work into the causes of ghosts has dark links to Castor’s own past and London’s exorcist community who have their own bars and a barge network where they can hang out and swap stories.

Although it does help to have read THE DEVIL YOU KNOW you don’t need to in order to follow this book. Personally, I thought it was a wonderful read that wraps up its individual story but leaves more than enough for the next book. This is urban fantasy fiction at its best.

The Verdict:

A brilliant sequel to THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, this is a complex story with multiple plot strands that come together in a breathtaking finale that leaves a great set-up for the next book. Carey is an incredible writer and this is urban fantasy at its very best.

Cross-posted to books, bookworming, fantasywithbite and urbanfantasyfan.

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