The Devil and Miss Prym sees a stranger arriving in the remote mountain village of Viscos carrying with him a notebook and 11 bars of gold. The first person to strike up conversation with the stranger is the inappropriately named Miss Prym, the hotel barmaid. Unbeknownst to her, Chantal Prym is exactly the subject the man had been hoping to find. The stranger puts a proposition to Chantal and with it gives her the power to prove or disprove a supposition that has tormented him for years--"Given the right set of circumstances every human being on this earth would be willing to commit evil". Should Chantal prove him right, all her dreams of escape to a new life would come true, but proving the stranger right would mean casting aside her deeply ingrained beliefs about right and wrong. So ensues a moral dilemma and a spiritual struggle between good and evil that will impact on everyone in the village.
This slim novel has the timeless quality of a parable. The sophisticated plot blends seamlessly with Coelho's uncomplicated language. As "the story of one man is the story of all men" so the reader is invited to think carefully about the struggle that is taking place within their own soul, to consider whether they would have the courage to stand out from the crowd. This is a truly accomplished novel from the pen of a philosopher and a master storyteller. --Sarah Crawford