Review: The Devil You Know

Posted: April 26, 2016 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: K.J. Parker, Fantasy

This is yet another novella in the numerous offerings that have been dropped recently from the infamous K.J. Parker. I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories from him. (See that? I’m getting better at this whole K.J.-Parker-is-a-guy-thing.) His short fiction is some of my favorite. It’s his writing, I think, that just lends itself to the short form so well. Sharp. Witty. Sarcastic. Always something to entertain and make me laugh.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (Amazon) is somewhat of a continuation of an earlier story of Mr. Parker’s: BLUE & GOLD (EBR Review) The main character there, Saloninus, is one of the two characters in this one. And if you remember some of what that story was about, then you’ll be a step ahead of the game when figuring out what this one is about. Saloninus’s better half in this story (as he knocked off the first one as part of BLUE & GOLD) is an agent of the Father of Lies.

As they’re always in the market for another soul, when Saloninus comes a-courting to the devil himself, the agents of Hell are more than ready to prepare the forms and seal the deal that will result in Saloninus’s soul becoming there’s for the rest of time and all eternity. From this offering, Saloninus will avoid his death, which just happens to be breathing down his neck, and be rejuvenated to the age of 25 and given twenty years of unlimited wishes (with some “mild” but appropriate limitations — think Disney’s Aladdin and you won’t be far off).

Of the two perspectives, I enjoyed that of the agent of Hell the most. Very early on, he gets the impression that Saloninus is not begin honest in their dealings. That he’s up to something, and he constantly worrying and trying to figure out just what it is. And yet, at every turn, Saloninus is there to prove that he is up to nothing. But it’s obvious that he is, and that’s what makes it so funny.

Dan''s short fiction is some of my favorite. It's his writing, I think, that just lends itself to the short form so well. Sharp. Witty. and Sarcastic.

The downside really came with the ending. The entire story felt like it was building up to some big final reveal of what Saloninus was doing, and when the reveal finally came, it was somewhat of a let down. Considerably smaller than I’d hoped for. And when it comes to shorter works, for me, the ending is oh so much more important.

So, if you’re a fan of Parker and have to read everything of his (look at that, closing up the review and not a single male/female mix up), or if you particularly liked BLUE & GOLD, you’ll want to grab this one. Especially right now, as it looks like it’s pretty cheap at Amazon.

  • Recommended Age: 14+
  • Language: Mild, infrequent
  • Violence: Not much no. The two are too busy in their respective worlds for it
  • Sex: Nope

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