Literature / Felix Castor
Felix Castor is the main character of a series of novels written by sometime Hellblazer
author Mike Carey. He appears in the following novels:
- The Devil You Know
- Vicious Circle
- Dead Men's Boots
- Thicker Than Water
- The Naming of the Beasts
The genre can only be described as "exorcist noir:" it's got elements of Our Ghosts Are Different
and Film Noir
. Castor, known as "Fix" to his friends, is a for-hire exorcist
who deals with ghosts that have risen en masse
in the last century.
The series is largely set in London, England; there's quite a lot of Scenery Porn
and paragraphs dedicated to describing London streets, landmarks, and architecture.
According to Word of God
, a sixth installment will be out in late 2011, which will either be the end of the series or at least of the current arc, and in which (more or less) All Will Be Revealed.
The series uses the following tropes:
- Anti-Hero: Castor fights dirty, banishes ghosts without a thought to giving them resolution, and will consign people he doesn't like to death with nary a second thought. After the first book, he starts caring about giving ghosts resolution after he realizes that they're not just mindless psychic imprints. He's still a bit of a bastard, though.
- Anti-Villain: In Dead Men's Boots, Aaron Silver, the old ghost of an East London mobster, started a possession racket involving, ultimately, hundreds of ghosts of criminals who would steal living bodies. After the other ghosts take turns possessing his two year old son and damaging the child for life, he resolves to arrange their destruction from behind the scenes, feeding hints and assistance to exorcists. He may be a bad, bad guy who set monsters loose on the world, but he still reads bedtime stories to his developmentally damaged son.
- Arc Words: Thicker Than Water has the creepy "Now it bleeds", which manages to keep getting creepier and creepier as the story develops and the backstory is revealed.
- The Atoner: About half the cast in some form, including Fix himself, though it takes him awhile to get there.
- Awesome by Analysis: Nicky Heath and Jenna-Jane Mulbridge.
- Ax-Crazy: Myriam Kale.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Pen, Castor's friend/landlady/lingering object of (unrequited) love, may seem like a Granola Girl most of the time, but you don't want to make her angry. Also once took down a demon with bullets made from rosary beads. Susan Book can be this when roused.
- Captain Ersatz: Castor bears a notable resemblance to John Constantine, a character Carey also wrote for a while, drawing on his own Liverpool-to-London background for both. (Fix also gets part of Carey's own Oxford degree, before dropping out to Walk the Earth a while). Ajulutsikael also has some points of similarity with Carey's take on Mazikeen in Lucifer and with Hellblazer's succubus Chantinelle.
- The Chessmaster: Jenna-Jane and Church Militant leader Father Gwillam. And Asmodeus.
- Church Militant: The Anathemata Curialis (technically excommunicated).
- Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: How Nicky Heath sees the world. He's not always wrong.
- Deadpan Snarker: Castor faces down everything from thugs to werewolves to demons from Hell with the same quippy attitude. Proving to be amusing has arguably saved his life more than once. Also Asmodeus, when not raging against his confinement. Also literally deadpan with Nicky, and appears to be a near-endemic condition in the police force, at least once into command level.
- Deal with the Devil: The gangsters in The Devil You Know have a deal with Ajulutsikael. Castor himself makes a deal with Moloch in Dead Men's Boots, and with Asmodeus in Thicker Than Water.
- Demonic Possession: Fix's friend Rafi is possessed by a powerful demon, Asmodeus, before the series even starts. One of Castor's big motivators is guilt for accidentally binding the demon and man together inseparably, which had the twin effects of preventing Hell on Earth and ruining Rafi's life.
- Did You Just Index Cthulhu?: The series takes a serious Gotta Catch Them All approach to these tropes. Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? and subtropes of this are most prominently featured, but nearly all the others have been invoked directly or foreshadowed heavily to feature in later stories. With the possible exception of the country-side ones, and even there, it may just be that Fix went through Surrey in too much of a rush. (Also, even these are played with more indirectly, especially in the U.S. parts of Dead Men's Boots). Fix bears the brunt of it, but Ajulutsikael does her share, when she's not the Cthulhu herself.
- Dissonant Serenity: Ajulutsikael in fight mode; Father Gwillam and Professor Mulbridge nearly all the time.
- Driving Question: Why are the dead coming back? And, later what was the Great Project?
- Enemy Mine: Rampant and constantly shifting.
- Fantastic Racism: The mutual prejudices between different kinds of demons, as well as the Does This Remind You of Anything? civil rights issues faced by the various undead.
- Femme Fatale: Quite literally, a succubus named Ajulutsikael (she unsurprisingly goes by the less tongue-twisty name of "Juliet") is summoned from Hell to rape and devour Castor. Fix frees her from her binding at the end of the first book and she decides to become an exorcist herself.
- Femme Fatalons: Ajulutsikael, of course.
- Fiery Redhead: Pen, and how!
- First-Person Smartass
- Flat-Earth Atheist: Fix.
- Friend on the Force: Gary Coldwood, to Castor.
- Heel Realization: Quite a few, with Dennis Peace as the standout so far.
- Hell on Earth: Probably just around the corner, if not already breaking out, and sometimes you get a taster version.
- Hello, Nurse!: Juliet.
- Hide Your Lesbians: Averted with Juliet and Susan Book. At the end of Dead Men's Boots, Castor gets an invitation to their civil union.
- Holier Than Thou: Both the Anathemata and Castor's Aloof Big Brother Matt (a priest) tend to fall into this.
- Hollywood Exorcism: Averted and subverted.
- Hollywood Voodoo: Subverted with Imelda Preston.
- Horny Devil: Ajulutsikael. Juliet later partially averts this trope when she decides to become a lesbian. All of her demonic powers hinge on seducing and devouring men; by dating a woman, she doesn't risk falling back into her old habits. Of course, she still has a, ahem, healthy sexual appetite and gets cranky when her girlfriend isn't putting out.
- Human Sacrifice: A plot point in Vicious Circle, with a nasty side serving of Powered by a Forsaken Child.
- Lady Killer In Love: Rafi with Pen. Being demonically possessed rather cramps his style, though.
- Like Reality Unless Otherwise Noted: Prime Ministers, Presidents, even London mayoral politics, are as in Real Life. So is popular culture. The "unless otherwise noted", though, is the return of the dead, and the possibly looming End of the World as We Know It.
- Loveable Rogue veering into Magnificent Bastard: Rafi before possession.
- Luke, You Are My Father
- Magic Music: Castor uses his power on ghosts through music; usually he does this with a tin whistle, but he can also use his voice or tap out a rythem with his fingers, to varying effect.
- Male Gaze: Fix, practically any time he encounters a woman, and no, not just when she's a succubus.
- Noble Demon: Juliet decides that she doesn't want to go back to Hell after Castor frees her from her binding, so she cleans up her act, decides not to rape and murder men anymore, becomes a for-hire exorcist, and settles down with a nice girl. She's still incredibly dangerous and has her own agenda, though.
- No Social Skills: Ajulutsikael's not always entirely successful or whole-hearted attempts to get her head around human concepts like altruism, table-manners and small talk. Or traffic regulations. Or clothes.
- Our Demons Are Different: Demons have a complex ecosystem in Hell, and apparently complicated politics. Ajulutsikael is certainly not friends with the other two main demons that have so far been introduced in the series, Asmodeus and Moloch. And then there's the one on the Salisbury estate in Thicker Than Water, which complicates the picture still further.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Ghosts Cannot Cross Running Water. Also, ghosts are the source for nearly all other supernatural types in the world. See also Our Zombies Are Different and Our Werewolves Are Different.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Werewolves are the result when a human soul possesses an animal and imposes a human shape on it. Eventually the animal nature starts asserting itself, and they become wild. One "werewolf" is actually a huge pack of rats; when the ghost is "spiked" (cast out of its body), it disintigrates into its component animals. Also, some of them are militant (if technically excommunicated) Catholics.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Zombies are ghosts who have possessed their old bodies and climbed out of their graves. Usually little more than shamblers, some are able to function in society. Especially with a bit of voodoo to keep things from decaying Fix's friend Nicky, a paranoid Conspiracy Theorist, is a zombie who actually thrives off being dead and "off the grid".
- Pardon My Klingon: The demons, especially Ajulutsikael, tend to lapse into their own languages every so often, especially when annoyed.
- The Pornomancer: Justified for Ajulutsikael, who also inverts Anything That Moves this way.
- Private Detective: Averted, insofar as he is not a P.I. He does end up in mystery cases involving ghosts consistently, however.
- Psycho for Hire: Subverted. "Mob hitwoman" Myriam Kale never actually took on a contract; she killed a lot of gangsters mostly because she met a lot of gangsters.
- Really 700 Years Old: Most of the demons - most of the ghosts are relatively young, with the notable exception of mysterious (and lusty) Rosie Crucis, a captive of Jenna-Jane's.
- Refuge in Audacity: Fix, most of the time, and Rafi (pre-Asmodeus) all of the time.
- Religion Is Magic: Any religious object will work against the undead as long as created or consecrated by a true believer. Fix has to rely on his friends, improvisation skills and "death sense" instead.
- Religion of Evil: Fix tangles with the Satanist Church of the Americas in Vicious Circle.
- Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: Rafi. Subverted slightly in that Asmodeus isn't simply sealed in Rafi, they also need to keep him in a silver-lined cell in an asylum for the criminally insane and Castor periodically has to tame the demon with his music in order to talk to Rafi instead of Asmodeus.
- Shrine to Self: Rafi built one of these as a teenager.
- Significant Anagram: A plot point in The Naming of the Beasts, with a nasty side serving of Driven to Madness.
- Trench Coat Brigade: Fix wears a Russian army greatcoat with special pockets sewn in to keep his whistle and other items handy for an exorcist.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Jenna-Jane is the villain of this storyline.
- The Unmasqued World: Ghosts have become commonplace over the last century, particularly since the year 2000. Castor often laments that the law hasn't caught up with the reality of the world; for example, there is no law in place that covers a situation where someone gets possessed and then commits a crime under the influence of a ghost.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Metamorphic ontology", a term coined by Jenna-Jane Mulbridge. Or as Fix puts it: "The dead are coming back as some seriously scary things. Let's talk some serious Latin about it." (And yes, being fluent enough in ancient languages for exorcism purposes, he probably does know it's pseudo-Greek and not pseudo-Latin).
- Unwitting Pawn: Fix, and various others, every so often. The demons also, as one, think of the Satanists as this.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Anathemata, with Father Thomas Gwillam very much in the lead. Jenna-Jane claims to be this. And on the opposite side, the Breath of Life movement (known as the Breathers), who campaign militantly for the rights of the undead.
- Who You Gonna Call?: Exorcism is actually a regular paying gig in Castor's world; there's a culture and landmarks associated with them. Ghosts are everywhere; when they go violently "geist," they're treated like a pest problem; an exorcist needs to calm them down or send them packing to the great mystery of whatever comes after death.
- Wicked Cultured: Most of the demons, but especially Asmodeus. He likes his pop culture references, too.
- A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Castor's sometime employer, Professor Jenna-Jane Mulbridge. Looks and acts like a sweet old lady, but performs horrendous experiments on captive undead For Science!, and plots relentlessly for power and money to continue these. She claims to be just misunderstood, though her management style as well as her fundamental callousness towards her research subjects belies this.
- The Worf Effect: whenever someone manages to lay some damage on Ajulutsikael. You know it's a World Half Empty at best because this is about once a book. Sometimes more.
- Zombie Advocate: The Breath of Life movement.