Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard (Johannes Cabal #1)

Book Review

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard

I've mentioned Johannes Cabal The Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard in my September Favourites and Halloween Books post, and keep saying I'll do a review, now I've finally got round to it!

Blurb from Goodreads

A charmingly gothic, fiendishly funny Faustian tale about a brilliant scientist who makes a deal with the Devil, twice.

Johannes Cabal sold his soul years ago in order to learn the laws of necromancy. Now he wants it back. Amused and slightly bored, Satan proposes a little wager: Johannes has to persuade one hundred people to sign over their souls or he will be damned forever. This time for real. Accepting the bargain, Johannes is given one calendar year and a travelling carnival to complete his task. With little time to waste, Johannes raises a motley crew from the dead and enlists his brother, Horst, a charismatic vampire to help him run his nefarious road show, resulting in mayhem at every turn.

Gothic humour, if there is such a genre, perfectly sums up this book. Dealing with devils and death it definitely has its dark moments, but overall this is a hilarious read that also manages to be intelligent.
The Necromancer has a very British sense of humour, which is clear in the depiction of purgatory which is full of unending queues and infinite forms to fill in.

The book reminds me of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Good Omens, especially the latter, with it's satanic theme. If you're a fan of either of these books then I think you'll enjoy Johannes Cabal the Necromancer.

The character of Johannes Cabal is an excellent invention, is he good or evil? You never really know and it's this complexity that makes him endearing.
I very much enjoyed the relationship between Johannes and his brother Horst, who also happens to be a vampire yet is the moral compass of the story.

Their relationship shines against the background of the soul gathering carnival, it's everything that you'd want a carnival manned by the dead to be; both creepy and entertaining, and the characters who inhabit it are wonderfully thought out and entirely disturbing.

In fact, most of the characters are well written, but there were a couple I felt could have been fleshed out more. The Devil himself was one such; he is a very stereotypical devil and I thought there could have been more to him.

I also felt the character of Leonie Barrow was skimmed over. She comes in too late to the story even though she's an important character and we don't really get much information about her. Maybe Howard is trying to make her mysterious, but it comes across like she's almost an afterthought.

Another issue, though it wasn't really a problem, just a little confusing, is that Johannes Cabal the Necromancer didn't read like the first in a series, it felt as though there had been at least one book before it. At the beginning especially, Howard's writing felt a little like he was summing, the way sequels do. There seems to be a whole story behind Johannes originally selling his soul that we don't know, and I also felt there was more of a story behind Johannes finding Horst at the beginning of the novel; the previous story was told briefly when there was clearly a lot more to it. I've checked and The Necromancer is definitely the first book in the Johannes Cabal series, but Howard has written a couple of short stories featuring Johannes Cabal before this, so maybe they have more information in.

This didn't hinder my reading of the book. It's a well rounded story in itself but the end definitely leaves it open for more. It finishes with something I wasn't expecting at all, not a twist exactly but a revelation.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Follow Me On Bloglovin'

No comments:

Post a Comment