When a character tells their reader that the reader will not like them, you can generally take them at their word. This is definitely true of the protagonist of K.J. Parker’s Prosper’s Demon. In fact, I didn’t have to wait for the protagonist to make this declaration. The first page of the book sees him waking up next to the body of a sex worker who has had her throat torn out. He immediately blames a demon for possessing his body and killing the poor woman, as a ploy in the great game that humans and demons have been playing since the beginning of time. From that startling beginning, the plot gallops along without pause to its surprising conclusion.
Its premise is what drew me to Prosper’s Demon. I was curious to know what would happen when the protagonist, an exorcist with a fearsome reputation, starts to talk to the creatures he’d spent his entire life sending back wherever they’d come from. Unfortunately, because of the racing plot, we never really get a chance to figure out what is going on between the humans and the creatures they call demons. All we really see is the protagonist racing to stop a demonic plot he’s worked out and creating his own counterplot on the fly.
I wish that this book had done two things. First, I wished it had slowed down. I wanted to know more about the curious setting and its history. I love a bit of creative world building. Second, I really wish that we had another narrator who could balance out the protagonist’s blunt violence. I think, if one of the demons really had the chance to speak for itself, there would a been a lot more dramatic tension. It would also have created a much-needed ethical dilemma that would have fulfilled the promise of Prosper’s Demon‘s premise.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.