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Bookends: Mike Carey’s Visions of the Supernatural June 4, 2013

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: Mike Carey’s Visions of the Supernatural

Vicious Circle

By Dan Davidson

January 9, 2013

Vicious Circle

By Mike Carey

Grand Central Publishing

577 pages


In Felix Castor’s world the dead have been coming back for some time and the results have been messy. Some come back in their own bodies, and are zombies. Some come back as ghosts and can be difficult in other ways. Some invade the bodies of animals and reshape them into humanoid form. These have the ability to shape shift into monstrous beasts and are were creatures with a sometimes tenuous hold on their former humanity.

No one knows why the dead have begun returning, but some sensitives have the power to banish them or control them, and Fix, as he is known to his associates, does it with music. His favorite focussing tool is a tin whistle, but just whistling will do in a pinch.

Felix is hired by a couple who claim that the ghost of their late daughter, who has been “living” with them, has been kidnapped by some sort of sorcerer and they want to get her back. Fix, who has bills to pay and a major responsibility for the well being of his friend, Rafi Ditko, who has been possessed by a major demon, takes the case.

Yes, there are demons in these stories, and there’s succubus named Juliet who makes Bo (from the Lost Girl TV series) look positively tame, even if she has been trying to cut back on her natural sustenance. Juliet gets involved because she has been retained to look into events at local church. Felix ends up there too and the pair find themselves struggling with an entity that has somehow possessed the sanctuary and is somehow corrupting anyone connected with the building.

While trying to figure this one out, Felix keeps trying to track down the missing shade and runs into all manner of difficulty in that quest. Of course, it emerges that the two mysteries are somehow connected, but that’s only after a lot of stuff happens and Felix gets fairly well worn down by the strife.

In that sense, fans of the Dresden Files series will find these books familiar. The pace is frenetic, things always get worse, and the hero really takes his lumps. There are differences other than the British flavor of Carey’s work, but the outlines are similar. If you like one, you’ll like the other.

The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the War of Words

Unwritten - Words

Story by Mike Carey

Art by Peter Gross & M.K. Perker

Vertigo/DC Comics

240 pages


It’s not really a surprise that Mike Carey would create a character like Felix Castor. After all, he had a long run on one of the original trench coat mystics, a nasty fellow named John Constantine, for DC Comics, as well as a scripting a batch of other series for both of the major comics houses.

What got me interested in him as a writer was this Tommy Taylor series, The Unwritten, in which a young man whose father used him as the model for a series of boy wizard books, grows up (resentfully) to discover that there actually is something to this magic business after all, that there is power to be found in words and stories, that he just might be the incarnation of his father’s imagination, and that if that wasn’t exactly what happened, he had nevertheless been programmed by his dad to be a weapon against the cabal that has been secretly running the world for centuries.

(My, that was a long sentence.)

The Tommy books bear more than a slight resemblance to the Harry Potter books, and Tom’s plight to that of the real Christopher Robin. The trick here is that stories shape the world, and in the places where stories touch the world the walls between fact and fiction are thin (think of the Jasper Forde books here). Tommy can cross these boundaries and, powered by the fandom the books have created, he has the ability to act in several worlds.

In this volume, which collects issues 31 to 35 of the continuing series, Tom finally comes face to face with the cabal’s hit man, Pullman, who may be dead by the time the story ends, though it’s hard to tell. This volume, like the last, intersperses Tom’s story with the history of the cabal, as chronicled by his late father, Wilson. It’s a history that goes back to Gilgamesh and in spite of the way things play out in these chapters, I’m pretty sure it’s not over yet.

I do look forward to these trade collections.




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