I usually try to keep novellas and shorter works I read to my Sunday Shorts posts that I post as often as I can. Especially since I only started that section of my blog before Christmas. However, sometimes a book needs a review all on its own. This is one of those books.
An unnamed narrator greets us with this one warning, we probably won’t like him very much. A darkly witty voice of an exorcist who has been marked by demons or Them since a child, walks the reader through his methods and how he works with questionable methods. Then he meets Prosper Schanz, a true renaissance man who is determined to lead the newly born prince into the new world of science of sense. Prosper is possessed by a demon. Then he meets the narrator.
This was way too short, I had to take a star from the book for it. It was such a good read and I wanted more of this world. There is no distinct world building here, only that there are clerics, royal families and children left to raise themselves on the lawless streets. The narrator provides us with choice flashbacks to describe his experience with demons, or Them as they are known here, and how this led him to where he is.
Something I thought was great was what we get to learn about Them. Is anyone else slightly frustrated with demonic possession stories and the lack of research in the stories about the demons in that world? Not only do we get to know how many of Them are (narrator is unsure how that was counted) but how they are hurt, how they can possess people and its just handled so well. I think if K.J Parker ever wanted to expand on this world, there is limitless opportunity to do it with what he has built here.
Unnamed and questionable narrators are always tricky too since the writer can easily fall into some very cliche territory. Thrillers in recent years have especially exploited it but Parker handles it very well. We don’t need to know this narrators name, we aren’t supposed to like them. He is willing to do whatever he needs to get rid of Them, but most importantly Him. There is a cat and mouse game stretching across the years between the protagonist and Him. Both of these characters met when when the narrator was VERY young and have been trying to catch and outwit each other ever since.
The way that this is all woven in with the main story of Prosper Schanz and his encounter with the protagonist makes for a creepy, dark tale with a fantastic payoff. I just wish this could have been longer since there was such good tension within the story. This is still a great read, very quick with a great take on the demonic possession tale.
Have you read this? Do you intend to? Please tell me in the comments. Happy reading folks!