A Penric and Desdemona fantasy novella.

Publication year: 2020
Format: ebook

Publisher: Spectrum Literary Agency

Pagecount at GoodReads: 102

This is the ninth Pen and Des story in publication order but the third one in the internal chronology.

Ten years had gone by since Pen had contracted Des, a bodyless demon which lives inside Pen. Pen is used to her and she to him. They tease each other but clearly know their bounders.

Pen is in Lodi, a Venice-like city with canals and boats. It’s the Eve of Bastard’s Day and people are starting to celebrate it with heavy drinking and other debaucheries. Pen has plans to spend it translating one of Des’ previous host’s papers. Instead, he’s summoned to the archdivine’s presence and sent to a hospice where an apparent madman has been brought in. The doctor there wants Pen to see that the man isn’t really possessed. But when Pen arrives at the hospice, he confirms the doctor’s fear: the young man is possessed by an insane demon. And then the possessed man manages to run away.

Pen and Desdemona search for him in vain. Only a Saint of the Bastard can draw out a demon from a human or animal. Fortunately, there is one Saint in the city. Perhaps they can even help find the unfortunate man.

If you’ve read the previous Pen and Des novellas, this is quite similar in mood to the others. It’s warm-hearted and charming rather than a thriller with a world at stake. Most of the story takes place with Pen and Des looking at the possessed man. However, there isn’t a much substance to the story, just entertainment.

While Penric is the only third-person POV character, the Saint rather steals the show and I hope we’ll see them again. I also thoroughly enjoyed the banter between Pen and Des, as usual. Also, Des’ terror at meeting and working with a Saint, who devours demons, was understandable and entertaining, too.

This was an entertaining, quick read, exactly the mood I want to read right now. It seems that there are three Pen and Des novellas I haven’t read yet!