“I woke to find her lying next to me, quite dead, with her throat torn out.”
I read that first line in Prosper’s Demon, by K.J. Parker, and knew right away that I was in for a wild ride. Horror stories aren’t for everyone, but if you’re in the market for a creepy book, be sure to grab a copy of this little novella as soon as you can.
Prosper’s Demon is another gem from Tor.com that can easily be read in one sitting. It’s only 112 pages long, but packs in a lot in so few pages. In this story, we follow an unnamed (and very unreliable narrator), who is a demon hunter of sorts.
The setting made me think of an almost Enlightenment-era Europe, where people are starting to question everything about the world. I honestly felt like I was reading something for one of my university classes (I majored in history, and early modern Europe was my jam). Many characters in the story are beginning to philosophize why and how certain things happen, and put their time and energy into new discoveries. To us readers, this makes sense. To our narrator, it’s a waste of time because he already understands the way of things: demons are real, and they are possessing people, and it’s a problem.
Of course, we don’t necessarily realize just how influential these demons are, which is fleshed out throughout the story in detail (I won’t give away any spoilers!). As a result, our narrator is forced into his own sort of philosophical debate along the lines of “should I act for the greater good?”
This book is unlike anything I’ve read before. Yes, it follows the age-old trope of demon possession and exorcism, but puts a new spin on it. I’m not quite sure who I felt for at the end: the humans or the monsters. You’d expect to feel for your fellow humans, but the ones in this story aren’t exactly nice, so the whole narrative throws you for a loop. The writing was beautiful and grotesque, and I can’t quite understand why I’ve been craving more of the story.
I’ve loved everything I’ve read from Tor.com, and this new novella lived up to my expectations. Prosper’s Demon is strange and unusual, but in the best way possible.
Thank you to the publisher for an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley. Prosper’s Demon comes out on January 28, 2020, and can be purchased wherever books are sold.