This one came to mind a few days ago. I remember several details, but not the title. The primary character is a demon. He's in some sort of contest that involves setting up a fairy tale and then making it have a bad ending. I think that, at the very beginning, there's an archaeological dig where either this demon or another gets released. They were digging up coins and there was a discussion of how writing on ruins is almost always lewd graffiti. An older male professor gets infected, I think while trying to seduce one of the co-eds on the trip. I don't remember what relevance he has to the main plot.

During that main plot, the demon is bringing up the princess and trying to crunch costs. He's having budget issues and keeps having to economize on aspects of the tale. I want to say that he wanted an ever-growing forest of thorns around the castle but has to settle for jets of fire. There was also something about having to use a cheaper magic sword. At some point, the princess recognizes the situation with the jets of flame and, remembering the installation, goes for the shutoff valve. At the end of the story, she marries the prince that rescued her, seemingly reaching her happy ending, but it's made clear that the marriage is on rocky grounds. I don't remember if the demon argued that he won after all as a result.

I think I read this as a paperback in the 90s in the United States. I remember the cover as having bright cartoonish colors, but I don't remember the details. I don't remember if it was an established author, but given I cribbed most of my books from my brother at the time, the odds are that it was.


1 Answer 1


This sounds a lot like Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming, by Roger Zelazny and Robert Sheckley.

From Wikipedia:

Every millennium a big contest is waged between the forces of good, and the forces of evil, a contest that determines the turn of events in the upcoming millennium. On the side of evil, the demon and master of sabotage, Azzie Elbub and on the side of good is the angel Babriel. Both have to abide by rules and customs set by their respective sects. The contest is a test of human nature and takes the form of a fairy tale involving two humans, a prince and a princess. Their choices will dictate the victor.

The good side come up with something involving architecture (cathedrals, I think is supposed to be the idea) but this ends up collapsing. The demon sets up a plot intended to be a Snow White waking the princess with a kiss type deal, but he intends for the princess to kill the prince on waking. If I remember correctly, he uses spare parts from other bodies, basically a murder victim and her murderer, invoking that unfulfilled revenge in creating his prince and princess to achieve this affect, but it all goes pear-shaped. He also has an infernal credit-card that he's trying to budget against, so the other bits also sound likely.

The demon ends up winning the millennium for Good with his "successful" fairy tale and failed scheme. He gets consolation prizes from both Good (for his help) and Evil (for trashing the award ceremony in rage). He also gets his credit cancelled as soon as he tries to arrange another bad ending for his subjects.

  • That sounds very much like it. I will have to check it out from the library to be sure.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 30, 2016 at 19:14

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