I started reading KJ Parker’s Prosper’s Demon as an ARC a few years back. I remember putting it down about halfway through the novella and being fully OK with not continuing it but not having strong feelings about it one way or another. The book has since earned raves. I regularly come across recommendations for it as a readalike for something I really like. I can’t shake that I didn’t like it. I just didn’t. I didn’t hate it. I wasn’t offended by it. I remember, though, the unmistakable feeling that this was a book I feel like I should like way more than I did – at least, I should like it at all – but I simply didn’t.
More importantly (and the reason why I’m mentioning it in a review for a totally different book), I also remember thinking that Lois McMaster Bujold’s Curse of Chalion did it better. It wasn’t that Parker’s book was a rip off of Bujold’s. It was just that it was similar enough in some ways to evoke recollections of a book I’d already read and enjoyed – Oh, and also, it simply wasn’t as good or interesting. The cover for Prosper’s Demon, though, is way cooler. So much cooler, in fact, that I was sure it was a me thing and not a book thing.
I don’t know why I put Parker’s Pulling the Wings Off Angels on my TBR given how unimpressed – and that’s really the word – I was by the former. Maybe I thought I missed something. Maybe the synopsis did it. You can’t really beat “Man entraps angel. Deals with God. Theological quandary ensues in fantasy setting. Oh, and it’s novella length so you don’t have to commit long.” Plus, it’s Tor.com. I read anything Tor or Tor.com puts out.
Well… my grand review is…. The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie did it better.
Pulling the Wings Off Angels has lots of passages that a person who has wrestled with or at least considered theological concepts including “If there’s a god then why is pediatric cancer a thing?” would find interesting. But…. it’s pretty basic. The quandary is on its face. It’s all very literal – which I don’t dislike. The MC is an atheist seminary student with a gambling problem.. rather, a money problem that leads him to the cards table. The cards table leads him to win a hand for lots of money from a known gangster who won’t take losing as an answer. Our MC can live, though, if he can provide access to a place where it’s rumored his grandfather has been holding an angel captive for over eighty years. Honestly… this all sounds better in theory than it does in practice. In the act of typing this out, I recall things about the text that I don’t like. And, frankly, we’re talking I haven’t gotten past page ten of the book.
I rated this a 3 on Storygraph although I had the option to rate with decimals and, perhaps, reflecting on it now I should change my rating to something like 2.75. Done. I just did that. I don’t like to provide stars for reviews below a 3. Since I don’t have the option here to provide anything but a whole number I will withhold offering a star one way or another. Typically, I don’t star below a 3 because I won’t write a review for it to explain. The only reason I’m doing it here is because I’ve committed to Cannonballing, but, suffice it to say, if I wasn’t doing Cannonball Read I wouldn’t have written about it at all. I would have left blank the starring on Storygraph (or Goodreads were I still on there) and I would have just rather not mentioned anything about it at all. There are some pluses here though – one, really: it reads incredibly fast.
I might, though, recommend that anyone who’s interested in fantasy that involves gods and their master plans check out The Raven Tower. It is a novel I have recommended too many times to count.