About the Book
In the pitch dark, witty fantasy novella Prosper’s Demon, K. J. Parker deftly creates a world with vivid, unbending rules, seething with demons, broken faith, and worse men.
In a botched demonic extraction, they say the demon feels it ten times worse than the man. But they don’t die, and we do. Equilibrium.
The unnamed and morally questionable narrator is an exorcist with great follow-through and few doubts. His methods aren’t delicate but they’re undeniably effective: he’ll get the demon out—he just doesn’t particularly care what happens to the person.
Prosper of Schanz is a man of science, determined to raise the world’s first philosopher-king, reared according to the purest principles. Too bad he’s demonically possessed.
I purchased this book because it’s KJ Freaking Parker and I autobuy his books.
Here’s the deal. It is probably unwise in the extreme to be reviewing this book right now. I am soooooooooo tired and my post-surgery pain is really kicking my butt today, but I finished this book last night and I’d feel a bit remiss without saying something about it.
So, here I am.
It’s no secret that KJ Parker is my favorite author. Something about the mix of cynical wit, dark humor, and his realistic worlds just work for me on every conceivable level. While I love Parker’s novels, I think his real talent is novellas. He’s taken the shorter form novella, and really made an art out of it. In fact, Parker is the first author I read who really got me to look at novellas seriously.
I know that’s horrible to admit, but there we are.
Anyway, I learned that Parker dropped a new novella two days before my surgery. While I’d usually blaze through it, it’s taken me a bit longer just due to recovery and exhaustion. I was reading after my family had fallen asleep last night, finishing the book up and I actually ended up laughing at a turn of phrase so hard I woke up literally everyone, so that was fun. My copy of the book is just covered in highlights, too.
The thing about Parker is, you can’t really ignore how precise, almost knifelike his prose is. There’s never a wasted word, and whether he wants you to laugh or to think, he knows exactly what to say to pull out that specific emotion in his reader, in spades.
Prosper’s Demon has a lot going on. Like all Parker novels, it’s playing on a few different levels. The narrator is morally ambiguous and untrustworthy, which is always fun. However, this is a Parker novel, so you aren’t just getting a morally questionable narrator, but a narrator who is… well, rather a mystery. You never learn his name. You never even really learn why he’s doing it other than he feels like it’s his job. He doesn’t really give the steam off his piss for the people he extracts demons from. There’s just so much you don’t know and… well that’s part of the draw, to be honest.
In the end, you’re left wondering about the morals of demon extraction in the first place. Who is the better party? Are these people actually being saved? Is harm done in exchange for “survival” (in whatever form that may come) worth the price? You don’t even really realize its happening, but before you know it, Parker has pretty much torn every brick out of the wall of “the ends justify the means” and then sort of spins the whole idea on its head and makes you wonder why the hell that saying exists in the first place, regardless of how trite it may seem. It’s a pretty powerful concept, and only Parker can so ritualistically gut it in such a short novella.
This book is kind of hard to talk about without giving things away. It’s a novella, not much here to extrapolate on without giving it all away. That being said, I’d absolutely bake Parker (aka Tom Holt) cookies and ship them to him every month for a year if he would please, for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, set more books in this world because it’s just so deserving of more Parker treatment.
I couldn’t get enough. What an amazing book.
The too long, didn’t read version:
PARKER BLEW MY SOCKS OFF, YET AGAIN.