Hmmm… I am still on the fence about this book, and the grade that I gave it. Truly, it hovered between the B-/C+ range. This is another of my little brother’s gift books from his bargain book hunting. It is about a necromancer, Johannes Cabal, with a mysterious-ish past who makes a deal with the devil to gather a certain number of souls in a years time in order to get his own soul back. No worries, to add a little intrigue the devil offers Johannes the assistance of a circus to help him achieve his goal. But the devil being the devil, things aren’t always as straightforward as they seem.
Howard’s writing style was a major difficulty in winning me over to this book. Howard tried to be too snarky and too sarcastic in many instances. A little less of that style would have gone a long way. Sometimes it would very drastically pull me out of the story and it was difficult to get back into it. There was also a large amount of predictability happening during the storyline. At no point did I doubt how the story would end. I also didn’t think the mysterious past was so mysterious. As this appears to be the beginning of a series, and Johannes is the only character that we are following, I also have my doubts about wanting to continue this series. Johannes isn’t terribly sympathetic and Howard did not do an effective enough job at making me care about him.
I do think there are people out there who would enjoy this book more than I, so I’d definitely suggest that those who are fans of the Lemony Snickett type book (but adults) might want to give it a go. The jacket of the book compares it to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, but that is false. It does NOT resemble that book in either style OR quality of writing. I loved Jonathan Strange and if that was the type of book Howard attempted to write, then I like Johannes Cable even less. But perhaps the less I think about it, the better.