Thursday 18 August 2011

Book Review- Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L Howard

Title: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer
 Author: Jonathan L Howard
Series:  Johannes Cabal #1
Published:  7 July 2009
Length:304 pages
Warnings: profanity, violence, the devil, hell, vampires
Source: Library
Other info: There are many more in this series.
Summary : A charmingly gothic, fiendishly funny Faustian tale about a brilliant scientist who makes a deal with the Devil, twice.
Johannes Cabal sold his soul a year 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 sideshow, resulting in mayhem at every term.
Review: Johannes Cabal sold his soul to the devil in exchange for the secrets of necromancy. A little later, he decides he wants his soul back. So he goes to Hell and asks. Satan tells him that if he can get 100 people to sign their souls over to him, Cabal gets his soul back. Cabal sets up a travelling carnival, gets the help of his older vampire brother Horst, conjures up some things as attractions and staff, and sets out/
The book is basically all of that happening. I like the idea behind it. It’s not often we see people who have entered into a Faustian contract, decide they want out, skip the queues and the paperwork to get into hell, and makes a bet with the devil. A fun and original concept.
I like the little sidestories that document what happens at each stop on the way. It doesn’t document the whole year, as that would take too long, but it gives you a very good idea of what happens at every stage.
I liked the characters. I think Horst Cabal was my favourite because of the way he handled his brother and the fact that said brother is trying to get 100 people to sign forms agreeing to eternal damnation. They were all well characterised and easy to distinguish. However, there were a few characters that appeared for about three pages, then were never heard of again. All right, these three pages described who they were and how they died, but still it would have been nice if they’d have been cleverly worked in somewhere along the line.
The humour in this seemed to come and go. It had a extremely funny opening, where Cabal summons a demon and has an arguement with it about how he should have correctly summoned it, with Cabal saying that the demon was there now and therefore it didn’t matter, but then the humour died down, came back, and went and came back throughout. The writing was third person, kept the book going, but kept you slightly distanced from the characters.
With the ending there was, I’m not entirely sure how a sequel could be produced. However, there’s a whole series, and I’ll read book two some day.
Overall:  strength 3 tea to an original and somewhat funny book.


  1. Hmm Sounds different. I may have to check this one out. Good review!

  2. Found this one at my local library ages ago.
    I'm not sure what to make of it; I enjoyed most of it but there seemed to be something lacking and I don't know what it is.

    I wasn't aware there were more books, so it might be worth reading those :)


Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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