[review] VICIOUS CIRCLE by Mike Carey

carey_circleVICIOUS CIRCLE
Felix Castor, book 2
Mike Carey
2006, Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group

Plot Summary: Felix Castor has reluctantly returned to exorcism after a successful case convinces him that he really can do some good with his abilities—“good,” of course, being a relative term when dealing with the undead. His friend Rafi is still possessed, the succubus Ajulutsikael (Juliet to her friends) still technically has a contract on him, and he’s still dirt poor.
Doing some consulting for the local cops helps pay the bills, but Castor needs a big private job to really fill the hole in his bank account. That’s what he needs. What he gets is a seemingly insignificant “missing ghost” case that inexorably drags him and his loved ones into the middle of a horrific plot to raise one of hell’s fiercest demons.
When satanists, stolen spirits, sacrifice farms, and haunted churches all appear on the same police report, the name Felix Castor can’t be too far behind…

Creature Feature: Ghosts, demons, succubus, zombie.

Worldbuilding: In this installment we get to know more about the demons, as Felix’s case crosses paths with the work the succubus Juliet is doing, and the demon possessing Fix’s friend Rafi lets go.

Characterization: Since the events of this story directly impact his friends, Felix is pushed to the limit. It was nice to see him face some real consequences at the end.

[spoiler warning:] I liked that Pen kicked him out. He was far too dependent on her, and she was much too forgiving of him. He needed the push. I’m curious to see how it affects him in the next book. [/spoilers]

Originality: We’ve seen ghosts before, but before this story, I don’t think I’d heard of anyone stealing a ghost. We also got to see more of other exorcists in London, and their hangouts. Indeed Carey brings in many original elements that keep the story fresh and interesting.

Believability: Carey takes the time to explain demonic possession and ghosts, so it’s all believable, like this short piece from a conversation between Felix & Juliet:

“You mean people ask to have their souls swallowed?”
“Essentially, yes. They agree to a bargain of some kind. They accept the terms, and the terms include forfeiting their soul. Obviously they may have an imperfect understanding of what that means. An eternity of suffering in hell, or a separation from God, or whatever the current orthodoxy is. But for us, it only ever means the one thing. It’s open season. We can eat them.”

Storytelling: Carey is a gifted storyteller. I find I’m drawn in completely. As the stakes escalate, the motivations deepen. The descriptions are rich, the action sequences tight.

Her hair was gray, but then it always had been: and on her it seemed less a sign of age than what you see when you scrape the paint off the side of a battleship. And like a battleship, her surface was bland and smooth and impenetrable.

Badass Factor: Everywhere Felix turns everyone wants a piece of him. The stakes were high in this one as even his friends and clients turned against him. But rightly so, since a big, bad demon tries to take over the city.

TSTL Moments (Too Stupid to Live): None that recall. Felix thinks through his decisions, weighs all his options.

Notable Quotes:
[Felix Castor] “And now they’ve all turned into homicidal maniacs.”
[Juliet] “That’s a question of semantics.”
“Is it?”
“If you call it insanity, you assume they’ve lost the ability to make moral judgments.”
“Raping pensioners? Knit one, pearl one, puncture windpipe? What do you think they’ve lost?”


[Juliet] “Infect if you prefer. Impart. Impose. Don’t argue semantics with me, Castor. You can’t expect me to have the same moral perspective on this that you have.”

Buy/Borrow/By-pass: The MMPB version is definitely on my Buy list. I like Felix and look forward to spending time with him, and certainly if I had the cash, I’d Auto-Buy the hardcovers.


Did you know? Mike Carey also writes comic books. He’s the author behind Lucifer and Hellblazer, and he’s now at work on X-Men. Check his website for all the info. To find out more about the Felix Castor books, visit Orbit’s Mike Carey website.