Sunday, March 15, 2015

Book Review: The Devil and Miss Prym

“You're a man who has suffered and wants revenge,' she said. 'Your heart is dead, your soul is in darkness. The devil by your side is smiling because you are playing the game he invented.” 

A stranger arrives in the isolated village of Viscos, and Paulo Coelho's parable of good and evil begins. The stranger has a bag full of gold bars and a question he demands be answered: are humans good or evil?

The Devil and Miss Prym is called a "novel of temptation," and that temptation is in ancient one. The stranger offers this impoverished, dying village enough gold to change their lives and save their village—but they have to murder one of their own to get the gold.

Will they sacrifice one of their own, or will they spit in the face of the manipulator? The stranger wants Miss Prym to find out. She is the only young person left in the village, and she is confident that they are good people who will refuse to murder a fellow villager. The stranger is skeptical. He's seen the worst in mankind, and he is convinced that all men are inherently greedy and evil.

“So you see, Good and Evil have the same face; it all depends on when they cross the path of each individual human being.”

Coelho's approach to this classic battle of good and evil is lovely. I wanted to underline sentences on every page. He captures profound truths in simple dialogue, and I wanted to make big canvases for my walls out of some of his phrases. The details of the story itself were excellent. It's the kind of novel I can close my eyes and still picture certain scenes. To be fair, the story didn't always capture me—it took me a good half of the book to really delve into it and become interested in the characters and their dilemma. But once I really immersed myself in it, I loved it.

This is a novel a friend and I are considering for a book club at our church. The book took me awhile to really get into, and sometimes I didn't understand everything that was going on because of my initial lack of attention; but I but I think it will be excellent fodder for lots of good discussion.