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.
While this story has a fairy-tale setting, and is as far from our present reality as you can get, the exorcist’s humor, and his blasé approach to battling evil spirits, give the story a jokey, modern tone, as if Deadpool had slipped into the body of the Witcher Geralt. Now that is escapism at its best.
In Prosper’s Demon, he devotes several pages to explaining how to go about casting and building a giant bronze statue, in a passage that somehow makes thoroughly useless information thoroughly entertaining. It also gives us a remarkably clear glimpse of what work was actually like in a world like the one Parker constructs from bits and pieces of real history ... Characteristically, Parker intersperses his tale with revealing anecdotes from the narrator’s past, acerbic asides on the nature of politics and science, sharp-edged portraits of mostly unsympathetic, clueless, or self-absorbed secondary characters, and a surprisingly provocative debate on the nature of art, virtue, and power. And as usual, this lends his rather slender narrative the texture of a longer novel. Prosper’s Demon may be modest in terms of plot, but it’s rich with spiky ideas and with Parker’s inimitable and always entertaining voice.
The tone of the book is equal parts dryly amusing and horrifying, as the exorcist contemplates the (often fatal) risks and rewards of ejecting demons. Moreover, the realization that Prosper’s genius may have stemmed largely from his possession haunts the exorcist as he contemplates what the demons will do with the royal baby, given time and other advantages. His solution is extreme, to be sure, and readers may be shocked by the abrupt ending. This tightly told little parable of good versus evil will linger in the minds of readers long after the last page is turned.