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Johannes Cabal The Necromancer  By  cover art

Johannes Cabal The Necromancer

By: Jonathan L. Howard
Narrated by: Christopher Cazenove
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Publisher's Summary

Johannes Cabal, a brilliant scientist and notorious snob, is single-mindedly obsessed in heart and soul with raising the dead. Well, perhaps not soul.... He hastily sold his years ago in order to learn the laws of necromancy. But now, tormented by a dark secret, he travels to the fiery pits of Hell to retrieve it. Satan, who is incredibly bored these days, proposes a little wager: Johannes has one year to persuade 100 people to sign over their souls, or he will be damned forever.

To make the bet even more interesting, Satan throws in that diabolical engine of deceit, seduction, and corruption known as a “traveling circus” to aid in the evil bidding. What better place exists to rob poor sad saps of their souls than the traveling carnivals historically run by hucksters and legendary con men?

With little time to lose, Johannes raises a motley crew from the dead and enlists his brother, Horst, a charismatic vampire, to be the carnival’s barker. On the road through the pastoral English countryside, this team of reprobates wields their black magic with masterful ease, resulting in mayhem at every turn.

©2009 Jonathan L. Howard (P)2009 Random House

What listeners say about Johannes Cabal The Necromancer

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Masterpiece Comedy

This isn't just a book that has many moments that made me laugh out loud. It's well told narrative with suspense and twists.

If it was just a comedy I wouldn't give this five stars. But it's clever, passionate, well narrated and beautifully sarcastic.

I had as much fun listening to this as I had 30 years ago reading Bored of the Rings or in the 80's and 90's reading Good Omens or the first few Xanth novels by Piers Anthony. Also, if you like passionately fun novels like Infected/Contagious you also might like this, too.

44 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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THAT'S SARCASM ISN'T IT

Mind Wondering
Yes, if you like Douglass Adams or Terry Pratchett, you will like this. I am not at fan of either and did not find this funny and could not keep my mind from wondering.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Methadone your Gaiman or Pratchett fix

Yes, I'm one of those. Gaiman and Pratchett can't write them fast enough and Adams is currently dead (for tax reasons, I believe). Howard isn't as funny, but he's got dark and ironic down--which is more than enough to stave off the withdraw shakes for another day. And, in all fairness, this is a better showing for an early work than most of Pratchett's first several books. As far as audio goes, Christopher Cazenove does a superb job talking us through this freak show.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely wonderful narrator

The narrator was just the best that could be for this story. His accents were great, all of them. The story has a solid pace, somewhat like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, you either like it or you don't.The humour is as dry as an autumn leaf, and thinly served up, so as not to overwhelm. A very good listen.

27 people found this helpful

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The Necromancer as Diabolic Showman

Johannes Cabal once sold his soul to the devil in return for necromantic knowledge that would propel him towards his goal in the dark arts, only to discover that his soullessness always skews the results of his black scientific experiments. Therefore, he makes a wager with Satan: if he can get 100 people to sign their souls over to the devil within one year, Satan will return Cabal's soul to him. To "help" Cabal, Satan gives him the use of an infernal traveling carnival and a ball of Satanic blood with which to conjure up workers and attractions. The penalty for failure is Cabal's death and damnation.

Thus begins Jonathan L. Howard's macabre, humorous, and strangely moving novel Johannes Cabal the Necromancer. Howard's fresh takes on hellish horror tropes like vampires, ghosts, demons, warlocks, imps, zombies, and Lovecraftian cults, is entertaining. His similes are often funny and original, as when the smoke from the infernal train engine rises up to the sky like the pyres of witches or martyrs. I liked much of the social satire, about, for instance, the insanity of war or men who beat women. Sometimes Howard's jokes and allusions are a bit too contemporary or cheap, as in revealing that Satan created lawyers or as in having Al Capone misspell "venereal" on the form he's trying to fill in to enter hell. But Cabal is a fascinating anti-hero protagonist, his relationship with his big brother Horst is compelling, and his mysterious reason for being a necromancer is intriguing. And the climax and resolution of the novel are suspenseful and satisfying (though I could have done with a little less of Layla the Latex Lady).

Christopher Cazenove marvelously reads the novel (as he does with The Merry Adventures of Robinhood and Peter Pan), with perfect rhythm and clear enunciation and varied voices for different characters, from Cabal's stiff, cold, and slightly Germanic accent through Bones' ingratiating Americanisms and Satan's infernal humor and silk and rage. Fans of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman ought to enjoy this book.

22 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fun macabre, occult, tale in Belle Époque Britain

Fun story, great historical setting, humorous situations & dialogue, interesting characters, rich prose and a narrator who just knocked it out of the park. If you agree with my other reviews, trust me on this on this one.

14 people found this helpful

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Completely Captivated

I have now heard all the books in this series and the only criticism I have is that the narrator changes through the series. Although Christopher Cazenove is the best of them, fortunately, all are quite competent. And, since Jonathan L. Howard does not follow the current overly used trend of first person, his third person narrative is not really harmed by the change in narration.

It is hard to describe this book or this series that is a fantasy turn on alternate reality with a bit of steampunk, but I found myself completely captivated, thoroughly entertained, and desperate for more. Howard's writing is witty, wry, sardonic, and very clever and his characterizations are brilliant - odd and strangely sympathetic. One reviewer aptly compared the tone to "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell", but this is much more fast paced with characters that are ultimately more likable as bits and pieces of the backstory fill in the gaps. This is my favorite type of series - each of the books delivers a satisfying resolution to the immediate conflict with an overarching goal that ties the series together so each book is a credit-worthy experience.

Dark and delicious - I can't wait to forget the plot points in the series so I can enjoy it again!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

More johannes please

Perfect pitch dark fantasy comedy.Dripping with sarcasm and wit, johannes and his brother weave a great story. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett will not be disappointed.

9 people found this helpful

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Recommended!

A great book to cheer you up while stuck in rush hour traffic! Very funny and well performed.

8 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Great narration, not great story

I really wanted to like this book. The narrator was amazing and the premise sounded great. I just couldn't get into it. I must have restarted it three times before I finally made myself stick to it. In the end I listened to it at triple speed just to finish it. I just couldn't make myself care about Johannes Cabal. I like anti-heros as much as the next gal but this guy was just "anti", no "hero".

7 people found this helpful

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  • connor
  • 10-06-17

Get past the first hour I beg you

Every book in this series has a dry start to it don't expect you can just skip through sections unfortunately. But get past that and it's a fantastic read Johannes is not a hero more a anti hero cold logical but kind in his own distant way.dangerously smart and always has a plan every book is different with only the characters as a constant in this series one day he running a carnival next he is solving murders on a blimp.the modernism can leave you scratching your head but does not affect the story as a whole .

1 person found this helpful