The Necromancer (Johannes Cabal #1)
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The Necromancer (Johannes Cabal #1)

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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  6,672 ratings  ·  823 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...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (first published January 1st 2009)
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Trudi
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...more
Jessica
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...more
Jason
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...more
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
3.5

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...more
Stephen
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!!
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
...more
Tfitoby
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...more
Jordan
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...more
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.
Lea

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...more
Juliet
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'...more
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...more
David
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’...more
Rui
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...more
oriana
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...more
Nikki Love
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
 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.
Kate
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...more
Dennis Liggio
Johannes Cabal is a scientist who sold his soul to the devil to learn the art of reanimating the dead. At the start of this novel he descends into Hell to get his soul back from Satan. Instead, they make a wager. In return for his soul, Cabal must bring Hell 100 souls, each one signing a contract. Cabal is given an evil carnival which he must animate, using animated horrors, the dead, and those he can lure into it.
This book straddles the line between tongue-in-cheek satire and seriousness. The c...more
Dean
Did Goethe have a sense of humor?
A fantastic Faustian tale.

First of all, kudos to Jonathan L. Howard for giving us a protagonist prick. Definitely refreshing to read an anti-hero who has so few moral compunctions. The moral turpitude sways and rocks now and again, but the essence is there. All for none and Me for Me.
Also, just as refreshing, to read the English language written so well. Mr. Howard gives us our Johannes Cabal as an incredible wordsmith and he is a joy to read.

A Necromancer attem...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
Amanda
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
Karissa
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...more
Amanda
This was a pretty interesting read. It was coolly amusing, after all, what isn't amusing about a scientist making a deal with the devil for his soul? At first, Johannes Cabal seems a cold man, shrouded in mystery. I really didn't expect to care for him at all. But there are slight glimpses of humanity here and there, starting with his recruitment of his brother Horst to be the barker for the traveling carnival he runs. The message is a good one, the book really makes you think about what exactly...more
Woodge
Jul 04, 2011 Woodge rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: other douchebags like you
Shelves: fantasy, horror
It can be very refreshing when the main character is a bit of a douchebag. The haughty, cold-hearted Johannes Cabal has sold his soul to the Devil in return for knowledge in necromancy. However, not having a soul, is throwing a wrench in occult studies, so he wagers with the Devil to get his soul back. He only has one year to sign over 100 souls to Hell or else forfeit his life and his soul forever. The Devil throws in a fiendish carnival to make things interesting. To call this book unusual see...more
Jamaica Wakefield
Author admits book was heavily influenced by Something Wicked This Way Comes. Imagine the story being told from the Carnival's proprietors point of view and you find yourself hoping your main character fulfills his very wicked goal. It did not lose my attention, kept me entertained with the colorful characters but isn't something I am dying to recommend to another adult. Maybe a wellread teen. I can see Johannes Cabal becoming a ongoing character series although his brother, Horst, was far more...more
Matt
An abundance of sardonic wit and inventive, nightmarish scenarios. Lots of fun for those of us who love anti-hero protagonists who may be villains, but are still much easier to root for than, say, monomaniacal self-appointed demigods or Satan. Intriguing use of third-person omniscience; it creates a certain emotional distance from the protagonist, but that layer of insulation might be a bit of a blessing, given that the protagonist is a cross between Doctor Who's The Master and Victor Frankenste...more
Liviu
Very disappointing though readable; probably it is just not for me though I spent an hour fast reading it since I had high expectations.

The humor fell mostly flat and the book does not work as other than a parody.
Katy
Jan 07, 2012 Katy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Pratchett, Monty Python
Recommended to Katy by: Amazon.com Vine program
Shelves: vine-book
Laura
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
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What's The Name o...: YA Novel of magician selling soul to devil [s] 5 30 Dec 04, 2013 06:27PM  
What did you like and dislike about this book? 7 87 Dec 30, 2012 02:24AM  
Do you think this son g matches? 1 28 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
More about Jonathan L. Howard...
The Detective (Johannes Cabal, #2) The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal, #3) Katya's World (Russalka Chronicles, #1) Johannes Cabal and the Blustery Day Exeunt Demon King

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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'!”
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“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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