This is quite a fun book. It's a sort of modern Faust, but told in the style of Pratchett & Gaiman. Necromancer wants his soul back from the Devil, so makes a deal to give him 100 souls, with the help of a diabolical carnival. It's an entertaining enough read if you like that sort of thing, written by Jonathan Howard, the guy who scripted the Broken Sword games. However, that wasn't why I wanted to blog about it.
I found this book by clicking on a Facebook ad, which is highly out of character for me. I think it may be the second one I've ever clicked on. I don't know how many ads Facebook must have served me in the last couple of years. It's got to be a few hundreds of thousands. Generally I don't notice them. You probably don't either. (Click-through rates on Facebook are unbelievably low. I've been doing them for about a year, and we'd feel good if we got over 0.5%.) Actually, what I clicked on was an ad for the sequel, Johannes Cabal the Detective, largely because it mentioned steampunk, detective stories, and the occult. That's pretty much designed to appeal to me. Telling FB a bit about myself can sometimes result in well targeted ads.
Like it or not, FB is going to be ad-supported, and given they only get paid when someone clicks on an ad, I'd rather they showed me ads for things I might be interested in. The advertiser wins, I win, and it's not always all about people trying to sell me crap I don't want. Privacy concerns notwithstanding, I'm all in favour of trying to make FB more relevant. The more enigmatic I am, the more likely it is I'll get served ads that mean nothing to me. There are products out there I would like if I knew about them, and I actually think FB is in a great position to hook up producers and potential customers. So, big thumbs up to both Facebook and Random House for getting their advertising right.
The other thing that surprised me is that they actually had it in Casselberry Library. My local library isn't exactly the biggest or most well-stocked library in the world. The one in Winter Park is big by local standards, and that's only modest compared to what we're used to in Britain. The Casselberry library is noticeably smaller, and so I really didn't expect to find an obscure piece of supernatural comedic fiction by a minor British author in there. However, not only did they have it on the shelves, but they also already have the sequel on order.
I've been very impressed by what I've found there. Two weeks ago I found the best Anglo-Indian recipe book I've ever encountered, Curries and Bugles, which covers the gloriously sumptuous food of the closing years of the Raj. For some reason, it's totally out of print, and copies go for up to $200. (However, Anna found me one for $10 and snapped it up instantly. Happy Matt!)
So, thumbs up Number Two in this blog goes to libraries. I love 'em.
Oh, and yes, I am looking forward to the next Johannes Cabal book. It's not likely to be a great literary, or the must-read novel of 2010. But it'll be fun.