And look at the beautiful cover on that thing, it's a work of art, it is. This is a series of books by the same author and I've read the second as well which I'll probably review some time as well. I have the paperback version of this which of the three sizes of paperback books I've seen it is the middle size, and I hate that size because it automatically makes it $5 more expensive than a normal size paperback. Anyway probably time to get to a review and not rambling.
As you may have guessed from the title of the book Johannes Cabal is the main character and he also happens to be a necromancer who makes a bet with the devil. Turns out he sold his soul to Satan and the lack of a soul is messing up his experiments so he wants it back. All he has to do is use a demonic carnival to get one hundred people to sign their souls over to the devil in a year and he'll get his soul back. Johannes has no clue how to deal with people so he recruits his brother Horst to help him. The fact that Horst got turned into a vampire eight years ago due to some mistakes on Johannes part means it will take some convincing.
The relationship between the two men is interesting to see play out, especially with a vampire playing the role of the honest moral character among the two. They play off each other really well and the problems between them make sense even with the backstory not being completely explored. And that's a strength this book rides all the way to the end as you don't learn what's driving Johannes until the end. He does awful things and deals with bad people, but he's still a sympathetic character and Horst manages to help that fact along. It's a book that does a great job of having an unlikable main character all the way through, but you sympathize with him and enjoy the journey.
The backdrop of the demonic traveling carnival is a fun one to see all the stories play out in. There's lot of different freaks and attractions that provide nice cameos and a nice sense of humor to a story that would seem to have a really dark narrative. The balance between the darkness and serious aspects of the story while still having fun and making jokes is well done. I do find at times the author tries to be a little too cute with the jokes and language, but those only happen once in a while and it never bothers me for long.
The stakes of the bet come close to the deadline in a city that may be too good for Johannes to find anybody corruptible and with the life on the line what measures will he be willing to take to win the bet?
Read the book and find out. I recommend checking this book out. It's a playful book with a serious edge, but it's always fun to read. It's a quick read as well as everything just flows and it's hard to put down. If you enjoy dark humor this is a book you can grab for an enjoyable read.