I got this book on loan from a friend. It sounded right up my alley, a darkly humorous book about a necromancer. It was a wonderful book; creative and intriguing, with just the right touch of dark humor combined with thoughtfulness to give it a darkly ironic, yet meaningful feel.
Johannes Cabal sold his soul to Satan in return for the knowledge of Necromancy. Now he finds that not having a soul is causing problems with his research and he wants his soul back. He makes a deal with Satan…if he can sign over 100 souls to Satan in the time of one year than he can have his soul back. Johannes gets the help of a dark carnival and proscribes his undead brother to assist with the set up. Now him, his brother, and a carnival of dark things are wandering the landscape in search of souls. Of course, nothing ever goes how Johannes plans and Satan never plays fair.
This was a wonderful book. Johannes is a conceited and somewhat bad man, but he isn’t evil. Howard gives Johannes enough feeling and humanity that you always kind of understand where Johannes is coming from. Johannes isn’t after power, he merely wants to defeat death. The cast of characters in this book is fabulous; they are all well characterized with interesting histories. Even the briefest characters really come alive on the page.
A number of darkly humorous things happen on their journey. Of course the story is incredibly engaging and quite the page turner. The whole time you are wondering what will happen to Johannes; will he get 100 souls? will he find a loop hole in the contract? To add to these questions, as the journey continues Johannes’s brother becomes increasingly upset about the morality of what they are doing and this adds a lot of tension to the story.
Howard’s writing style took a little bit to get used but after the first couple chapters I found it to be very readable and loved the detail he puts into describing his surroundings.
While, for the most part, this book is a darkly humorous story about one necromancer’s quest to outwit Satan; it touches on a number of issues dealing with morality and death. And despite Johannes’s cold and abrupt manner you can’t help but understand him by the end of the book and perhaps even find him somewhat likable.
Overall I enjoyed this book a lot. There is not a thing I would change about it. I think this is something that most adults would find an interesting read. If you like dark humor you are sure to get into this, if you like reading about the supernatural this is a great read too. I recommend picking it up because it is engaging, creative, humorous, different, and yet meaningful. The sequel to this book Johannes Cabal the Detective comes out on July 13th, 2010 and I am eager to read it.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– The 100+ Book Reading Challenge