There was rumor going around on Amazon a few months ago that Mike Carey was going to publish another Felix Castor book. I hoped it was true and maybe it will happen yet, but so far … there are five books and no more. I own all of them, but if there should ever be another, I’ll be first in line to buy a copy. I love this series.
I discovered Mike Carey because I reviewed a Jim Butcher book and someone suggested I’d like the Felix Castor series by Mike Carey. I’d never heard of Mike Carey, but I was out of new authors to read at the time and I was ready to try anything that sounded good. I got what I hoped for plus a whole lot more.
As a writer, Mike Carey is better than good. He is hyper-literate. He uses words like a rapier. His prose is beautifully crafted, often lyrical, yet never treacly or sappy. He is crisp, witty, intelligent. He does not repeat himself. He never uses the same descriptive passage twice, nor does he — as many popular authors do — copy and paste sections from one book to another to (I presume) save writing time. Mike Carey doesn’t use short cuts.
The result is a style that is richly descriptive, a delicious combination of gritty street slang banging head-on into literary English. Liverpool guttersnipe meets Jane Austen. It gives the narrative a rare and rich texture.
What’s it all about? Felix (Fix) Castor is an exorcist. He sees the dead and the undead. They see him. He is no wizard who magics his problems away with the wave of a hand or wand. He can send the dead away when they linger and cast out demons who possess humans.
Where do the dead go after he sends them away? He’s not sure, an issue that looms successively larger as the series progresses. His weapon is music in the form of a tin whistle, a thin armament in the face of some of the perils he faces. He has a few allies — human, formerly human plus one demon in recovery.
The series consists of five books, each building on the previous one to form what is essentially a single story in five parts. Best to read the series in order. All the books are available as paperbacks, for Kindle, and from Audible.com.
In order, the books are The Devil You Know, Vicious Circle , Dead Men’s Boots, Thicker Than Water and The Naming of Beasts. None of his books are a lightweight romp, but the first three are much lighter in tone and funnier — Carey has a sharp, ironic sense of humor– than the last two, both of which are pretty intense.
Fix Castor works hard for short money, is rarely appreciated by the people he helps, has more than enough of his personal demons, not to mention some very real, otherworldly demons who are seriously out to get him.
It’s a unique series, unlike any other I’ve read. I wish there had been more of them, though I suspect the author is done with this series.
There are so many surprises in this series. The characters constantly surprised me by growing and changing, developing in unexpected ways and not doing the obvious.
Mike Carey can be very funny. His subtle and elegant humor contains no belly laughs, but irony pervades his prose. None of the books are traditionally funny nor are the situations humorous or light-hearted, but the author’s writing style is wonderfully cynical. The stories, pun intended, are dead serious. Darkness notwithstanding, you can count on Mike Carey’s plays on words and twists of phrase to keep the dread from becoming too heavy to handle.
The plots are gripping and creepy. Any or all of the books would make great horror movies. I’m surprised no one has grabbed them yet. Maybe they will. Sooner or later, someone is bound to notice, right?