The Alchemist many years ago and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to read more of Paulo Coelho's work. The Devil and Miss Prym seemed like a good second venture into his world.
This book can best be described as a good, old fashioned fable. Miss Prym lives in a small town of less than 300 people in the mountains. The town of Viscos is always the same, until a stranger comes to stay and causes everyone to question their moral fiber. The stranger finds Miss Prym and uses her as his spokesperson to the rest of the town and has her tell them his proposition: If they kill 1 inhabitant of their town within the week of his stay, he will give them 10 solid gold bars. If Miss Prym tells them, she will get an additional bar for herself; if she does not tell them, he will tell them all anyway and expose her for keeping the secret from them, which would very likely make her the victim they all decide on. She turmoils over her role in the whole business for several days before she finally figures out how and what to say. She believes that the townspeople are inherently good and also cowardly, so she believes that telling them will only cause them to throw the stranger out. Much to her dismay, the townspeople think the proposition through a little more than Miss Prym bargained for. In the end, she must stand up for her beliefs and call all of the others to stop trying to justify evil actions in order to get financial gain for their dying town.
I had no idea what to expect when I got into this book. Just going off of my experience with The Alchemist, I knew it would be a life lesson-type story. To be perfectly honest, the book was slow going at first. It is well written, but there are quite a few details the author takes for granted and the climax was a little too wordy for me to really say I loved it. I enjoyed the book, the lesson it teaches was great, it's just not one I would read again. I recommend The Devil and Miss Prym for anyone who wants a classic tale of good versus evil told in an unconventional and modern way.
(This review was posted on The Thousander Club here)