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The Necromancer (Johannes Cabal #1)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  8,987 ratings  ·  995 reviews
Johannes Cabal has never pretended to be a hero of any kind. There is, after all, little heroic about robbing graves, stealing occult volumes, and being on middling terms with demons.

His purpose, however, is noble. His researches are all directed to raising the dead. Not as monstrosities but as people, just as they were when they lived: physically, mentally, and spirituall
ebook, 288 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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I tried. Oh how I tried. The premise for this book had me at hello. The audiobook starts out very charming and engaging with a winsome scene of Hell's bureaucracy. The dialogue is crisp, witty and very British. Narrator Christopher Cazenove reminded me of Alan Rickman, which is made of win for me.

Then there's the confrontation with Lucifer that's just as delightful and intriguing. Johannes Cabal is a Necromancer who traded his soul to the Devil. But now he needs it back. However, known neither
This book was just what I needed after coming out of my Mockingjay funk. Mockingjay was brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but it also sucked my will to live in 7 loaded hours. I was in a daze for, like, two days. I think I could only move on to other books because my mom started reading it after I finished, preventing me from a re-read, and I got to meet up with my best friend to discuss and have group therapy over our very similar, life-ending experiences.

So yes, dry British humor was what I need
I really liked this book. The writing is dense, but darkly smart and clever. The characters are well drawn, and complex, and I love how the author used the language they used to help define them. I also loved the difficult relationship between Johannes and Horst. The secondary cast was interesting, and added a lot to the story. I appreciated their insight into the story, and the characters. Having views other than Johannes' helped me to understand Johannes, and how he is perceived. The plot was ...more
4 Stars

The Necromancer book one of the Johannes Cabal series by Jonathan L Howard is a dark urban fantasy done right. Johannes Cabal is not a good man heck, he is not even a nice man. He literally sold his soul to the devil and has now decided that he wants it back.

The book moves along briskly with plenty of action, dialogue, and great settings. This story really does travel to Hell and back. I really enjoyed the writing style of Howard. He is big on painting a dark and dirty picture and he is b
David Katzman
Apr 08, 2012 David Katzman rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Dreadful. I knew I was going to throw in the towel after about 30 pages, but I kept going until page 65 because I wanted to give it a reasonable chance. I was in the mood for some gothic wit, some charming amorality, and some evocative darkness. Fail, on all accounts. It wasn’t witty. The plot was contrived. The writing was forced and awkward. And the main character was neither charming nor witty. In fact, he was stiff and boring. Here is the dead-on insight I had about this book:
Sometimes while
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile

So, I liked this book well enough, but I had high hopes for it and just wanted to like it more than I did.

Part of it is that I think, before I started reading it, I was expecting it to have more of a period feel to it - which it sort of achieves, in that it didn't feel quite modern, but didn't quite manage to immerse me fully.

But, that aside, when I first started reading it I was generally enjoying it. I really like the little bits of wry wit and references, but as the story progressed it too
4.0 to 4.5 stars. An excellent debut novel with a wonderful "tone" and smart writing. Excellent plot and wonderful characters (especially the main character and his brother). Overall, a very satisfying read. Highly recommended!!
The Johannes Cabal series from the creator of that awesome 90's point & click game Broken Sword is an interesting if not very unique idea. The tone is very much one of deliberate attempts at humour that made me cringe more often than not.

I was reading stuff like this ten years ago and enjoying it so perhaps this is just another example of needing the 'right place right time' dynamic in my life to really enjoy something; sadly instead of finding it funny and clever this just made me compare H
Overall, I enjoyed it & it's what I would term a light read even though the material itself is quite dark. (It is necromancy after all.) I think the first half is stronger than the second & I probably liked the first half more because it was wittier & more acid, imo. By the halfway mark, it felt like the story got a little more predictable (often my problem with books that are part of a series) & I feel like there were some chapters there just to fill the 'quota' & move the s ...more
Johannes Cabal is a necromancer who lives in the 1800's. Or maybe it's the 1900's. Or maybe it's 2011. Or maybe it's the 1950's?


Johannes Cabal is a necromancer who lives in some sort of time period that's a mish-mash of everything ever for the past 300 years. He's arrogant, intelligent and ruthless... and he has a plan. He's decided that he needs his soul back, which is easier said than done when the only way to do that is to visit hell. Making a pact with the devil should have been a lo
Jonathan L. Howard's writing is rich, wry, and creepy as fuck.

Admittedly, I had trouble getting into this book. I don't really understand why, honestly.
Purgatory as a bureaucratic nightmare? A vampiric crypt-dwelling brother? A carnival of death, chaos, and latex ladies? Totally my style. So, the story inevitably grabbed me, especially as Cabal started collecting souls to exchange with Satan for his own lost soul, and Howard's imagination was given the chance to shine. An abusive boyfriend is
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
Johannes Cabal is a wicked dark comedy. Johannes sold his soul to learn the laws of necromancy and makes a wager with Satan so that he may win it back - one year to persuade one hundred people to sign over their souls. A travelling circus is an aid to his task. Horst, a charismatic vampire and brother of Johannes joins as the carnival's barker on the diabolical romp through the English countryside.
Peter Darbyshire
The sort of book Tim Burton would write, if he wanted to write a book about a necromancer who's bet his soul on a wager with the devil and then travels the country side with a hellish fair. So, really, Burton should adapt this book.
Reclusive scientist Johannes Cabal wants his soul back. He travels to Hell, where a bored Satan proposes a wager: Cabal has a year to persuade one hundred people to sign over their souls. If he fails, he'll lose his own soul forever.

Cabal raises a crew of dead, enlists his own undead brother to help out, and proceeds to seek his hundred signatures. He has not expected to be doing so while running a travelling carnival, but that's the way things work out, and the weirdness of the Cabal Brothers'
Matthew DeCostanza
Awful, worthless shit.

Cabal wins the award for most unrealistic and stupidly one-dimensional character, hands down; he blunders through the half-realized Goethe-via-Christopher Paolini landscapes like a retarded tax collector, blindly following instructions without voicing his opinions or even doing so much as to emote at all. However, Meursault he is not; the apathy and neutrality are replaced by obliviousness and irrationality. The rest of the characters, while not as offputting as the hero, a

For me, this book was the perfect example of how important it is to read a book at the right time -- the last time I tried reading it, I distinctly remember thinking it was kind of . . . dull. I was so disappointed that it wasn't nearly as good as I thought it would be, and I put it down, not really sure I'd try it again in future.

At the urging of a GR friend, I decided to give it another try -- and it was like reading an entirely different book. I'm not really sure why I found it so dull last t
Mar 20, 2013 Rui rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rui by: Rafaela
Shelves: favorites
So... Johannes Cabal, The Necromancer... what to say about this book?

Let me put it like this, when I started I was expecting an enjoyable read, when I finished I was absolutely in love with this, its characters, its concept, its writing style, its universe... everything!

This book, for a start, is marvellously well written; it manages to be funny, dark, clever (very), sad and surprising, every scene hitting exactly the emotion it is aiming at. That is no small feat.
I found myself laughing out la
Johannes Cabal is a scientist who several years ago sold his soul to Satan in exchange for the secrets of necromancy (the control of the dead). Luckily for the reader, Cabal may be a necromancer, but he "is not one of those foolish people who take up residence in cemeteries so they can raise an army of the dead." After all, "they're more expensive than a living one, and far less use...they march ten miles and their legs fall off. Napoleon would have approved - that really is an army that marches ...more
This is the first book in a (currently - as of this typing) 3 book series. It was a LOT of fun - in a VERY dark and disturbing way. The novel takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride...mainly because it is sort of like if Douglas Adams ("Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy") were to have written "Something Wicked This Way Comes" (Ray Bradbury) - - dark, oddly funny, quirky and twisted, and with an off-handed and dry wit (very British!). It was very well written – intelligent and eloquent vocabul ...more
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
What an unusual, wonderful book! Brings to mind Bradbury's "Something Wicket This Way Comes", which is ok, since it's one of my faves, and the author lists it as an influence. Johannes Cabal sold his soul to the devil a while back to learn the secrets of necromancy, and now he wants it back. So he makes a deal with Satan that he will gather 100 souls for him in a years time, using a diabolical carnival that Satan provides, as his vehicle for gathering said souls. He also enlists his charismatic ...more
Cabal is another one of those difficult books to review. On the one hand it’s any interesting concept piece…where does an evil carnival come from (thank you Bradbury for the idea….Something Wicked This Way Comes)…but on the other it lacks all the components of a compelling read.

First a little about the narrative. This is your basic quest narrative…a necromancer sets off to win his soul back from Satan by finding one hundred souls/people to damn in his place. The vehicle for this ‘damnation game’
Johannes Cabal, a brilliant scientist and notorious snob, is obsessed with raising the dead. Tormented by a dark and harrowing secret, he travels to the fiery pits of hell to retrieve his soul, long ago sold to the Devil. Satan, incredibly bored and hungry for a challenge, proposes a little wager: Johannes has one year to persuade one hundred people to sign over their souls or he will lose his forever. To keep things interesting, Satan generously throws in a traveling carnival to help Johannes c ...more
I got this book on loan from a friend. It sounded right up my alley, a darkly humorous book about a necromancer. It was a wonderful book; creative and intriguing, with just the right touch of dark humor combined with thoughtfulness to give it a darkly ironic, yet meaningful feel.

Johannes Cabal sold his soul to Satan in return for the knowledge of Necromancy. Now he finds that not having a soul is causing problems with his research and he wants his soul back. He makes a deal with Satan...if he ca
Oh, this is terrific fun. It stars a cranky old British necromancer with a magnificently sarcastic and wry sense of humor. He sold his soul to the Devil ages ago, and now he wants it back, so he makes a deal to run an evil carnival for a year, and if he can sign a hundred souls, he'll regain his own.

If that doesn't sound delicious to you, don't bother picking it up. But if it does, grab it! It's a perfect smarty airplane or vacation book. I can't wait to read more of this guy's books -- I hear
Nikki Love
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 05, 2014 Lorelei rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lorelei by: Laura
Shelves: sf
Honestly I found this book a bit disappointing. It started very slow for me, taking a long time to get interesting enough to draw me forward. Then for a good chunk of the middle was entertaining and exciting enough, wanting to know what happens next? -- only to be quite let down at the end. It steamed in at full throttle, and then just kind of fell off the end. With a dull thud. I'm left with all sorts of questions that aren't going to be answered, about characters that were either made too much ...more
Tak tohle stálo za to :) Knížka se přesně trefila do mého smyslu pro humor, měla parádní konec, jehož jednu část jsem pořád ještě tak docela nerozdýchala, velmi dobré postavy... Doporučuji všemi deseti :)


Edit: Je to už třetí den a já na tu knížku nedokážu přestat myslet. Zítra si jí zaběhnu koupit, jinak se asi zblázním :D Přidávám jednu hvězdičku, takže zvyšuju na plný počet.
William Thomas
Johannes Cabal, Necromancer opening soon at a theater near you. Starring:

Christoph Waltz as Johannes Cabal
Tom Hardy as Horst Cabal
Ralph Fiennes as Lucifer
Brendan Gleeson as Barrow
Steve Buscemi as Bones
And many more.

So this is how I read fiction. As a movie. I have to. I don't know about you, but from the moment a character steps on page, I have to match them with a familiar face. It's the only way I can remember the book as well as I want to later. And these are my actors, as they popped into m
I keep trying to make it through this book, and ultimately I think that I have to throw in the towel. I am never going to finish it.

The writing drags, in large part due to the purposefully-stilted prose style that Howard adopts. While it does its share for establishing ambiance, it's unfortunately clunky when it comes to advancing matters of plot or character development -- and reads a little too much like someone trying very hard to be Terry Pratchett.

It's a shame, because when Howard lets loos
Jan 07, 2012 Katy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Pratchett, Monty Python
Recommended to Katy by: Vine program
Shelves: vine-book
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What did you like and dislike about this book? 8 109 Dec 24, 2014 08:02AM  
Mysteries & Crime...: June Group Read: Johannes Cabal The Necromancer 17 70 Jun 17, 2014 04:34PM  
What's The Name o...: YA Novel of magician selling soul to devil [s] 5 36 Dec 04, 2013 06:27PM  
Do you think this son g matches? 1 30 Jul 25, 2011 08:37AM  
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Jonathan L Howard is a game designer, scriptwriter, and a veteran of the computer games industry since the early 1990s, with titles such as the 'Broken Sword' series to his credit.

After publishing two short stories featuring Johannes Cabal (Johannes Cabal and the Blustery Day and Exeunt Demon King) in H. P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror, Johannes Cabal the Necromancer was published in 2009 as his
More about Jonathan L. Howard...

Other Books in the Series

Johannes Cabal (4 books)
  • The Detective (Johannes Cabal, #2)
  • The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal, #3)
  • The Brothers Cabal (Johannes Cabal, #4)
The Detective (Johannes Cabal, #2) The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal, #3) The Brothers Cabal (Johannes Cabal, #4) Katya's World (Russalka Chronicles, #1) Johannes Cabal and the Blustery Day

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“Not entirely fair?" His voice became that of the inferno: a rushing, booming howl of icy evil that flew around the great cavern, as swift and cold as the Wendigo on skates. "I am Satan, also called Lucifer the Light Bearer..."
Cabal winced. What was it about devils that they always had to give you their whole family history?
"I was cast down from the presence of God himself into this dark, sulfurous pit and condemned to spend eternity here-"
"Have you tried saying sorry?" interrupted Cabal.
"No, I haven't! I was sent down for a sin of pride. It rather undermines my position if I say 'sorry'!”
“Lo!" cried the demon. "I am here! What dost thou seek of me? Why dost thou disturb my repose? Smite me no more with that dread rod!" He looked at Cabal. "Where's your dread rod?"
"I left it at home," replied Cabal. "Didn't think I really needed it."
"You can't summon me without a dread rod!" said Lucifuge, appalled.
"You're here, aren't you?"
"Well, yes, but under false pretences. You haven't got a goatskin or two vervain crowns or two candles of virgin wax made by a virgin girl and duly blessed. Have you got the stone called Ematille?"
"I don't even know what Ematille is."
Neither did the demon. He dropped the subject and moved on. "Four nails from the coffin of a dead child?"
"Don't be fatuous."
"Half a bottle of brandy?"
"I don't drink brandy."
"It's not for you."
"I have a hip flask," said Cabal, and threw it to him. The demon caught it and took a dram.
"Cheers," said Lucifuge, and threw it back. They regarded each other for a long moment. "This really is a shambles," the demon added finally. "What did you summon me for, anyway?”
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