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Johannes Cabal once sold his soul to the devil in return for necromantic knowledge that would propel him towards his goal in the dark arts, only to discover that his soullessness always skews the results of his black scientific experiments. Therefore, he makes a wager with Satan: if he can get 100 people to sign their souls over to the devil within one year, Satan will return Cabal???s soul to him. To ???help??? Cabal, Satan gives him the use of an infernal traveling carnival and a ball of Satanic blood with which to conjure up workers and attractions. The penalty for failure is Cabal???s death and damnation.
Thus begins Jonathan L. Howard???s macabre, humorous, and strangely moving novel Johannes Cabal the Necromancer. Howard???s fresh takes on hellish horror tropes like vampires, ghosts, demons, warlocks, imps, zombies, and Lovecraftian cults, is entertaining. His similes are often funny and original, as when the smoke from the infernal train engine rises up to the sky like the pyres of witches or martyrs. I liked much of the social satire, about, for instance, the insanity of war or men who beat women. Sometimes Howard???s jokes and allusions are a bit too contemporary or cheap, as in revealing that Satan created lawyers or as in having Al Capone misspell ???venereal??? on the form he???s trying to fill in to enter hell. But Cabal is a fascinating anti-hero protagonist, his relationship with his big brother Horst is compelling, and his mysterious reason for being a necromancer is intriguing. And the climax and resolution of the novel are suspenseful and satisfying (though I could have done with a little less of Layla the Latex Lady).
Christopher Cazenove marvelously reads the novel (as he does with The Merry Adventures of Robinhood and Peter Pan), with perfect rhythm and clear enunciation and varied voices for different characters, from Cabal???s stiff, cold, and slightly Germanic accent through Bones??? ingratiating Americanisms and Satan???s infernal humor and silk and rage. Fans of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman ought to enjoy this book.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
This isn't just a book that has many moments that made me laugh out loud. It's well told narrative with suspense and twists.
If it was just a comedy I wouldn't give this five stars. But it's clever, passionate, well narrated and beautifully sarcastic.
I had as much fun listening to this as I had 30 years ago reading Bored of the Rings or in the 80's and 90's reading Good Omens or the first few Xanth novels by Piers Anthony. Also, if you like passionately fun novels like Infected/Contagious you also might like this, too.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
Every book in this series has a dry start to it don't expect you can just skip through sections unfortunately. But get past that and it's a fantastic read Johannes is not a hero more a anti hero cold logical but kind in his own distant way.dangerously smart and always has a plan every book is different with only the characters as a constant in this series one day he running a carnival next he is solving murders on a blimp.the modernism can leave you scratching your head but does not affect the story as a whole .