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The Necromancer (Johannes Cabal #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  13,154 Ratings  ·  1,375 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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Elaine While never specifically stated, the book refers to a war and that Al Capone is dead (he died in 1947), so I assume perhaps in the 1950s or 60s.

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Alternate title: Something Wicked This Way Comes, the Carnie Version

Johannes Cabal is sorely vexed. Some time ago, he traded his soul to the Devil, as it was proving an impediment in his studies of necromancy. Alas, he acted too hastily–after much research, he’s realized that his soul is needed for his research to be have meaning. He might also have an ulterior motive. The epitome of the logistician, the obsessive scientist, Cabal is a hysterical straight man to the absurd humor of those around
ᴥ Irena ᴥ

I loved this book.

I loved its weird characters.

I loved Johannes Cabal even at his worst. I should be worried, I know.

Johannes Cabal

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I loved the beginning, the plot, the ending.

I would admit that Johannes Cabal is an acquired taste. There are things here that might make some people squirm (not in a good way, but there are those too) and make them feel uncomfortable at best, horrified at worst. The first half of the book is a bit lighter than the second.

If you thought Something Wicked This Way
Dan Schwent
In a bid to win back his soul, necromancer and scientist Johannes Cabal runs a demonic carnival in order to win the souls of a hundred people to exchange for his own. With the help of his vampire brother, can he find one hundred people willing to sell their souls?

This is one of those books that I'm having a hard time verbalizing my opinion on. I'll give it a shot, though.

The Necromancer is a funny tale about a man trying to win back his soul. I found the dark British humor right up my alley. Joh
This book turned out to be a delightfully evil tome that retells the Faustian adventure in a clever, dry and imminently British way.

Add a bit of Bradbury and the evil carnies, a dash of the detective mystery, and a very liberal dose of the classic "beating the devil at his own game"... and we've got this tale. I am pretty much delighted through and through, to tell the truth. :)

It reads like the lightest of Urban Fantasies, it has the darkness of the most evil of tales, it has the glimmer of ho
Dec 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, horror
3ish stars.

This is a good, clever, quick genre-bender. It even has a few laugh-out-loud moments. It's very enjoyable, intelligent and endlessly quotable but a little too light-weight for my tastes (despite its dark nature) with a protagonist who is hard to care about. The audiobook performance by Christopher Cazenove really elevates the story and is highly recommended!

Johannes Cabal is a necromancer. He's sold his soul to the devil. Now he'd like it back. There's humor in many varieties, as well
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
"The darkest souls are not those which choose to exist within the hell of the abyss, but those which choose to break free from the abyss and move silently among us."

Although the above quote is from the movie Halloween, it sums up this book almost perfectly. Because even though The Necromancer may at first dazzle readers with its sharp wit and cleverness, it has a dark heart, mostly due to its eponymous leading man, Johannes Cabal.

Cabal has a problem, you see. A while ago, he sold his soul to Sa
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A funny, slightly pretentious, very clever, Faustian story? There was no way in hell I wouldn't enjoy this. Faust has been one of my favourite books since I read it for my German course in school - I loved (and still do love) it enough that for several years I wanted to get a quote from it tattooed on the outside of my foot (and would have done so if not for the three tattoo artists who told me the location is impossible). Now I am kinda glad I did not get that tattoo, because WOW that would hav ...more
Somewhere between 4 and 5 stars but little closer to 4.

Writing style and humor reminds of Terry Pratchett but with lot darker tone. Humor here is dark and our protagonist isn't a hero or even anti-hero. Johannes Cabal is straight up villain and horrible person with flashes of redeemable qualities now and then which made him intriguing and interesting to me.

This book follows his funny misadventures in trying to sign 100 souls to devil in order to get his soul back. Like Discworld messes around wi
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steam-punk
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 spoke 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
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
Quintessentially British humor-infused urban fantasy with an anti-hero protagonist.

Johannes Cabal has done a deal with the devil for his soul. But that was a while ago, and now he needs his soul back. Not because he wants to avoid damnation, but because being soulless is causing issues with his experiments in necromancy. So with this second deal he has to sign up 100 other peoples' souls for Satan to get his own soul back. To do this the Devil loans him one of his carnivals and sends him on his
David Katzman
Oct 03, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  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
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2014
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
I finished, but it didn't keep my attention very well after about the halfway point. Not bad writing, but I think this character seems to work better in short stories (of which there are several).
When I first heard about this book some years ago, I didn't give it much thought. When I heard this book compared to Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, I immediately took notice. Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes was one of my favourite books growing up.

Anyway, on to Johannes Cabal. Not a nice guy but oh, so witty and dryly humourous. The story's premise is Johannes enters into a bargain with the Devil to get 100 souls in exchange for the return of Johannes' soul. Enter th
Megan Baxter
This is a curiously weightless book. It seems detached from place, from time, and suffers from that detachment. If I spend more time wondering what time period it's taking place in that being engrossed in the story, then there's a problem. Technologies are variable, references are all over the place, and the writing is uneven. But there's a hint here of something better.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, gothic
Reread 8/4/17: Still find this darkly charming.

Take one necromancer...

"His name was Johannes Cabal, and he was summoning a demon."

and one vampire...

"His perceptive eye and sympathetic heart, however, were all his own."

...and one year aboard a literal train from hell, a traveling Carnival of DiscordWonders...

"The Cabal Bros. Carnival was something special. Something unusual. Something different." complete the mission: one hundred souls in one year's time to undo a Faustian deal with the Devi
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!!
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

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
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, audio
4.5 stars, rounded up.

This book was just a ton of fun, and I think the audio book probably enhanced it for me as it really brought out the various characters. I loved the dry humor, the weirdness of the characters, the interactions between Cabal and his brother, Horst, and even the unexpected tender moments.

Sign me up for the next book.
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.
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantastical, funny
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
 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.
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ingenious and hilarious. One of my favorite novels.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Johanes Kabal, lik koji je hladnokrvan, surov, bez empatije, usko fokusiran na jedan cilj i neinteresuje ga koga mora da iskoristi da bi dosao do njega. Pa cak i Djavola. I sve zato je dusu prodao doticnom. E to je nas glavni lik, sigurno ne neko za koga bi smo navijali i ipak do kraja knjige zelimo da uspe... ali i da se promeni. Popravi. Postane bolji.

Vrlo interesantna pricica, sa dosta naivnih delova (pocetak i kraj) ali i puna upecatljivih likova od kojih je retko ko "dobar". Sam svet je cud
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
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
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2015, luna-reads
Was originally a buddy read with a friend of mine but extended hiatus later, I'm sick of seeing this in my Currently Reading list.

Pretty meh. Occasionally gave me a chuckle but for the most part the witticisms and humour were painful, a few neat ideas, the two main characters are fun and the whole Hell being a huge, idiotic beureaocracy has something nicely Douglas Adamsy about it, but yeah overall fairly forgettable.
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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 (5 books)
  • Johannes Cabal the Detective (Johannes Cabal, #2)
  • The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal, #3)
  • The Brothers Cabal (Johannes Cabal, #4)
  • The Fall of the House of Cabal (Johannes Cabal, #5)

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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?”
More quotes…