Quick Review: PULLING THE WINGS OFF ANGELS by K. J. Parker (Tor.com)

ParkerKJ-PullingTheWingsOffAngelsAnother quirky, engaging, and twisty novella from Parker

Long ago, a wealthy man stole an angel and hid her in a chapel, where she remains imprisoned to this day.

That’s the legend, anyway.

A clerical student who’s racked up gambling debts to a local gangster is given an ultimatum — deliver the angel his grandfather kidnapped, or forfeit various body parts in payment.

And so begins a whirlwind theological paradox — with the student at its center — in which the stakes are the necessity of God, the existence of destiny — and the nature of angels.

It should come as no surprise to long-time readers of CR that I am a huge fan of K. J. Parker’s novellas and short fiction. As soon as I read the synopsis for Pulling the Wings Off Angels, I was eager to read it. I was lucky enough to get a DRC a while ago, and read it right away. I’m very happy to report that it is classic Parker; I really enjoyed this.

If you’re a fan of Parker’s novellas already (and/or his longer novels), then I’d be surprised if you hadn’t already pre-ordered this. If you haven’t, I think you’ll find everything that makes Parker’s work so good: the characters are brought to life on the page, their dialogue witty and observations sharp. There are some interesting discussions and examinations of theology, belief, ambition, and much more. All of Parker’s favourite topics, and always interesting. It’s a quintessentially K. J. Parker novella.

The story moves at a good pace, but it’s by no means rushed. The author unrolls the story nicely, and we learn more as the protagonist does. There are a few nods to Parker’s other works, and some familiar faces make an appearance — however, it’s not essential to have read everything else in order to enjoy this book. The author’s bibliographic universe is a great setting, and with each novella he adds more layers and expands our mental map of his world.

I really don’t know how to review this without spoiling the story. (Always a challenge with novellas.) Needless to say, it’s superbly written, wryly humorous, and tightly plotted, Pulling the Wings Off Angels is a great novella.

Very highly recommended. I’ll read anything Parker writes.


K. J. Parker’s Pulling the Wings Off Angels is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on November 15th.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You Know, The Last Witness, Downfall of the Gods, My Beautiful Life, Prosper’s Demon, Academic Exercises, The Big Score, and The Long Game

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads
Review copy received via NetGalley

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