I finally saw Rise of the Silver Surfer today. I'm saving my thoughts on that for a Macq Experience post (gotta spread the posting around, you know), but I did have a thought while watching the previews: What's a worse idea for a movie, Underdog, or a sequel to Daddy Day Care? The sight of both of them had me cringing, but I can't say which was more horrifying, but maybe yo've got some thoughts?
But that's not really what today's post is about. Nope, today is another book post. Hey, stifle that groaning back there! Books are good for you, and today's was written by someone who writes comics. Thought that would get your attention. Today we're looking at The Devil You Know, written by one Mike Carey. I haven't really read anything by Carey, at least not to an extent where I could pick up on his patterns as a writer, but I would guess this book is probably similar to his work on Hellblazer (he did write Hellblazer for awhile, right?).
The story stars one Felix Castor, a fellow rather sensitive to the supernatural, in a world where the supernatural has become quite common. Ghosts, zombies, loup-garous (were-creatures), all of them walk around quite openly in this world, to the point people are pushing for their legal rights. Castor had worked as an exorcist, but had given up on that trade after a mistake seriously bolloxed his friend. "Fix", as his friends know him, lives with an old college friend, Pen, who is kind enough to overlook the fact he owes her a lot of back rent. So when his belligerent nature botches an easy job, he's forced to take up the exorcism trade once more to be able to pay up. As you might expect, things get more complicated than he expected, and dark secrets are unearthed, though I don't suppose that's too unexpected when dealing with the restless dead.
I guess the first thing to say is that I liked the book. Felix Castor most reminds me of Spike, from the Buffyverse: brash, smart-mouthed, but cleverer and kinder-hearted than he outwardly appears. Felix is also a person who deals with things he's uncertain of, by telling himself that he doesn't care. The question is frequently raised in the book, as to where the ghosts he exorcises go. Felix's response is that he doesn't know, and that he doesn't particularly care. His job is to get them to go away, and thinking about where he might be sending them would only complicate matters. Castor's outlook will change by the end of the book, but by how much is up for debate.
The part I found most interesting was the concept of how Felix does his job. He gets a feel for the ghost with his paranormal sensitivity, then uses that to craft a song that will attract the ghost. He plays the song on his whistle, until it almost becomes part of the ghost. Then when he stops playing, the music - and the ghost - go, as Fix puts it, 'wherever music goes when it stops'. It's a perfect way of putting it, because it encourages you to vizualize it however seems most appropriate you.
Carey introduces the supporting cast for Felix, and gives you a good feel for who they are and what they're about. His older brother is a devout Catholic, disapproving of Felix's freelance exorcisms, because that's the Church's realm, damnit,a nd doesn't Felix remember what happened to their sister? Pen's kind and caring, and a bit of a witch (magic, not personality), though she does have a sharp tongue, and her concern for Felix is strengthened by past losses. There's others that move into and out of the story quickly, but Carey still makes sure we get a feel for who they are.
The book reads quickly, with the exception of a confession that comes late in the book that seems to drag on too long. This may have been an intentional on Carey's part, since the person confessing is scared out of their wits, and trying their best to absolve themselves of any wrongdoing, so backtracking and telling things that aren't really necessary could be expected. To the extent that it's a mystery story (as in, what's the ghost there for), it isn't a particularly difficult one. I'm usually pretty bad at mysteries, and I had this one pretty much doped out, but I think this is more supposed to be about Felix, and how he confronts his failure and his beliefs and moves forward from there. I'd recommend it, if you have an interest in supernatural msytery stuff.