Prosper’s Demon by K. J. Parker
Publisher: Tor Dot Com
Publication date: 28 January 2020
Length: 112 pages
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
Prosper’s Demon was one of my most highly anticipated January releases, in part because of its astonishing cover — yes, I am shallow. While this horror novella wasn’t necessarily what I expected or craved, I enjoyed this strange and snarky tale of demonic possession and exorcism.
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.
This novella is a funny one, because while it does everything it says in the blurb it is much more literary than I expected. Novellas are obviously shorter than your standard book, so space on the page is at a premium. I really liked the plot, but the focus of the book wasn’t the plot. There were pages of musings on philosophy and art that, although I enjoyed them, didn’t seem to quite fit in with the novella format. I think I expected a more straightforward narrative and while I did like this aspect of the book, it prevented me from adoring this book as much as I might have otherwise and I think it will turn off some readers.
Despite this, Prosper’s Demon is a fun and snarky romp through a historical fantasy setting, mostly due to the fantastic nameless narrator. He’s an exorcist and self-proclaimed asshole who is incredibly morally grey — the book opens with him waking up next to a dead body and he is mildly annoyed and inconvenienced rather than horrified. I really think that his voice and morally dubious nature is the factor that ties this story together — Prosper’s Demon might otherwise have just been a forgettable novella with some good ideas.
Overall, I did enjoy this book and am so pleased I had the chance to read it. If you’re looking for an unconventional and entertaining novella, I’d highly recommend Prosper’s Demon.
Want to pick up a copy of Prosper’s Demon? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):