Johannes Cabal sold his soul to the devil many years ago thinking it would help him with his necromancy. It turns out, not having his soul is proving problematic for Cabal. He travels through hell to retrieve his soul from the devil. Satan does not want to return it, but being bored is willing to enter into a wager for Cabal's soul. The wager: Cabal must get 100 people to sign their souls over to the devil, and he has one year to do it. To make it interesting, Satan gives him a carnival to lure people in. Johannes Cabal must immediately set up the carnival if he has any hope to complete his task in one year.
This is the first book in the Johannes Cabal series. I had read the third book Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute, and loved it! So I was excited to finally read another of the Johannes Cabal books, and thought I would start with the first book. This is a witty and humorous book, but there is great depth to the story as well. Howard's writing style is engaging. I adore his characters, you immediately get a sense of who they are, yet they develop as the story progresses. I am so glad that this is a series, because I want to continue in this world.
The plot is very engaging, and Howard writes an excellent version of the Faustian tale. Also, I love that this version of hell is people in interminable lines filling out bureaucratic paperwork. Anyone who has waited in line to get government paperwork completed will appreciate this.
If you like fantasy books, I highly recommend reading the Johannes Cabal series.