Vicious Circle

Vicious Circle

by Mike Carey

An audio file of this program is available in mp3 format; click to listen.

I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Vicious Circle by Mike Carey.

Mike Carey is a very famous guy who a lot of us don’t know by name. But if you’ve ever picked up an issue of the X Men, Lucifer, or Hellblazer — that’s the John Constantine book, tragically cast with Keanu Reeves in a role originally designed for Sting — he’s been a featured writer on all of them. Go look in your kid’s room — ok, maybe that’s not a great idea — but if there are comics in your house, chances are good Mike Carey is one of the writers.

My relationship with the artform formerly known as comic books is a rocky one but I’ve really come on board, particularly after reading the glorious Sandman series, which Mike also worked on. For the millionth time, graphic novels can be passionate and powerful and even really well written. Trust me.

Anyway, Mike decided to step off the high board and switch to fiction, with his Felix Castor series. The first book about Felix, The Devil You Know, introduced us to this noir-ish exorcist, all trench coats and rainy London streets. In this world, the dead have started to rise with alarming frequency, and it isn’t the fact that they are rising at all that’s got everyone freaked out, it’s how it’s just happening all the time. Bad news for most of us, but a target rich environment for someone specializing in ghost removal. Enter Felix Castor, who has the knack of dealing with your little ghost problem. He plays a tune on his tin whistle, and sooner or later that ghost is sort of sucked into a cosmic vacuum cleaner. At least, we think. No one really knows where a ghost goes. What’s the next step? Where is he sending them? That’s just one of the moral dilemmas on Felix’s plate. He may be a good exorcist but he’s got into a run of terrible luck, what with helping his best friend right into a mental hospital — that was one exorcism that didn’t go quite so well — also attracting the attentions of Juliet, a succubus as terrible as she is delicious, and in the second book — Vicious Circle — it really falls apart. What starts as a simple missing ghost case — it could happen — turns into a staredown with a major demon and a stomach turning conspiracy that makes Felix continue to ask, maybe there’s an easier line of work? Carey creates his favorite kind of hero — one who isn’t very heroic, who has trouble following close behind, who’s friends almost always pay a steep price for having him around, but someone determined to do right, even when it’s his own wrongs he has to fix. Mike’s writing has only gotten tighter and more vivid as Felix’s luck gets worse.

The third installation, Dead Men’s Boots, has just been released in the UK — looking forward to it!

By the way, I asked Mike if he had a recommendation for a graphic novel, and he raved about Amy Unbounded by Rachel Hartman. I picked up a copy and have to share the love. Amy is a young girl in a medieval, slightly fantastic place — a not-quite England, maybe — but the story is really about growing up, friends, family, love and faith (plus dragons!) The artwork is simple and expressive. Get this for your tween and teen girls but read it yourself first.

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