Johannes Cabal is a brilliant scientist who sold his soul to the devil in order to gain the secrets of necromancy, or the power to raise the dead. And not as creepy, creaking zombies, but as they were; as the normal, beautiful, human people they were before death. And, when he realizes that his powers are pretty useless to him without said soul, he marches straight down to hell to demand it back. Lucky for him, Satan is very, very bored, and instead of just squashing him like a bug, he proposes a wager: in exchange for his soul, Johannes must provide Satan with 100 souls within one year. And to help him in his diabolical duties, the dark lord provides him with a travelling carnival to help him (or perhaps just to make things interesting). 100 souls, one year. Time is running out, Johannes..............
I pretty much loved this book. Jonathan L. Howard is a master wordsmith; I haven't had this much fun with a book in a long time! While the topic was perhaps not the most savory, it was still an incredibly interesting book with an interesting view on the soul, damnation, and the classic Faustian bargain. And above all, it was incredibly funny! The humor is somewhat subtle; I didn't even pick up on it at first, but once you start finding this book funny, it's really easy to pick up on most of the jokes.
Besides just being funny, this book was chock full of interesting characters. Johannes in particular was of great interest to me; not just because he was the leading protagonist, but because of the depth and inner conflict that Howard stuffed him with. I guess I started this book expecting a character who would be somewhat stuffy, dull, and one-dimensional, but by the end of it, I was pleasantly surprised.
Finally, the plot is such a page turner! At first, it was easy to put the book down and walk away, but toward the end, I neglected homework and a social life just to finish those last couple of chapters. I just could not put the book down! A great read; something I have not experienced in a long time!
There are two sequels so far.....The Detective and The Fear Institute. Both are going at the top of my summer reading list :)