JohannesCabaltheNecromancer

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
Published by Headline and out now

There is always a suspension of disbelief when starting any novel and trusting that at point somewhere the events described would actually happen. Then when you get past this hurdle, which isn’t usually that high or difficult you have to settle into the story being told. Or at least settle into how the story is being told.

The problems with Johannes Cabal The Necromancer started from the opening pages I couldn’t get into the tone. Howard is trying for comedic fantasy. A very hard juggling act. Even Terry Pratchett, along with Robert Rankin, is considered a master of comedic fantasy, lets the gags come from the characters rather than the characters coming from the gags. And Pratchett has now toned the comedy to focus on the characters and the tale.

And over the first 50 pages, which is as far as I could manage, we get little introduction to the scientist/necromancer Cabal. We are marched with short order to the immigration control centre at the gates of Hell, which follows an exchange with the gate keeper, who used to be a banker and whose ideal of Hell is forms. We then get to meet a devil that’s risen through the ranks before Cabal lets out his secret bringing him down to size. Before getting to see Satan. Who is a little too normal.
The problem for me is that nothing feels real. Hell should be something special. But Howard neuters everything making the place and devils seem unimpressive and a tick box.

There are points where if he’d lingered then it would have been more interesting. Like the how he got hold of the skull that he scares the gatekeeper with, what sort of experiments he does. But instead he meets Satan that agrees a wager for Cabal to get his soul back if he takes on a Carnival to get a 100 souls in a year.

It’s hardly original.And that’s what I’m struggling with. Cabal is lacking a hook into him as a character. His wager isn’t that interesting and the storytelling is simple and humourless.

It does sound a little brutal. But that’s my impression of the first 50 pages. And I can’t see my impression changing. I’m not engaged by the whole thing. I’d recommend reading the opening chapters to see if you have the same reservations or if you find the tone and banter enjoyable.

12 Thoughts on “UnReview: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard (Headline)

  1. edifanob on 31 August, 2009 at 5:09 pm said:

    It doesn't brutal. Every book I start to read gets the 50 pages choice to convince me whether to continue reading or not. And in case I can't get in the book or I don't like the style of the author I stop reading. There are so many books on my TBR pile that I don't waste my time with books I don't like.
    Therefore I appreciate your explanation and your advice. And for all who are interested in read the excerpt. I read the excerpt and I must admit that this first chapter didn't work for me. That means it is no book for me. But I'm sure there are people who will like it.

    • I might do more Opening Pages reviews but to get a different flavour of the books on the shelves. But this one really didn't hit any humour buttons for me. Not that I find most things that funny but not even a twitter could be found.Thanks for the link.I hope you're good.

  2. edifanob on 31 August, 2009 at 5:09 pm said:

    It doesn't brutal. Every book I start to read gets the 50 pages choice to convince me whether to continue reading or not. And in case I can't get in the book or I don't like the style of the author I stop reading. There are so many books on my TBR pile that I don't waste my time with books I don't like.
    Therefore I appreciate your explanation and your advice. And for all who are interested in read the excerpt. I read the excerpt and I must admit that this first chapter didn't work for me. That means it is no book for me. But I'm sure there are people who will like it.

  3. edifanob on 31 August, 2009 at 5:09 pm said:

    It doesn't brutal. Every book I start to read gets the 50 pages choice to convince me whether to continue reading or not. And in case I can't get in the book or I don't like the style of the author I stop reading. There are so many books on my TBR pile that I don't waste my time with books I don't like.
    Therefore I appreciate your explanation and your advice. And for all who are interested in read the excerpt. I read the excerpt and I must admit that this first chapter didn't work for me. That means it is no book for me. But I'm sure there are people who will like it.

  4. edifanob on 31 August, 2009 at 5:09 pm said:

    It doesn't brutal. Every book I start to read gets the 50 pages choice to convince me whether to continue reading or not. And in case I can't get in the book or I don't like the style of the author I stop reading. There are so many books on my TBR pile that I don't waste my time with books I don't like.
    Therefore I appreciate your explanation and your advice. And for all who are interested in read the excerpt. I read the excerpt and I must admit that this first chapter didn't work for me. That means it is no book for me. But I'm sure there are people who will like it.

  5. I might do more Opening Pages reviews but to get a different flavour of the books on the shelves. But this one really didn't hit any humour buttons for me. Not that I find most things that funny but not even a twitter could be found.Thanks for the link.I hope you're good.

  6. I might do more Opening Pages reviews but to get a different flavour of the books on the shelves. But this one really didn't hit any humour buttons for me. Not that I find most things that funny but not even a twitter could be found.Thanks for the link.I hope you're good.

  7. I might do more Opening Pages reviews but to get a different flavour of the books on the shelves. But this one really didn't hit any humour buttons for me. Not that I find most things that funny but not even a twitter could be found.

    Thanks for the link.

    I hope you're good.

  8. I have just finished reading the book and it all comes together at the end. He can't say the type of experiments Johannes is doing without the ending being ruined. I could have done with the book being longer because he cuts it off a little in the middle. As far as I am concerned, I was just happy to read a book in the realm of horror that was not so simple written as a girl falling in love with a vampire or something of that nature. As for the humour, I liked it. I have read far worse books in my life and was very happy with this one. It may not be the best book around but I felt completely satisfied that it had not been a waste of my money or time. I look forward to anything Jonathan L. Howard writes in the future.

  9. I have just finished reading the book and it all comes together at the end. He can't say the type of experiments Johannes is doing without the ending being ruined. I could have done with the book being longer because he cuts it off a little in the middle. As far as I am concerned, I was just happy to read a book in the realm of horror that was not so simple written as a girl falling in love with a vampire or something of that nature. As for the humour, I liked it. I have read far worse books in my life and was very happy with this one. It may not be the best book around but I felt completely satisfied that it had not been a waste of my money or time. I look forward to anything Jonathan L. Howard writes in the future.

  10. I have just finished reading the book and it all comes together at the end. He can't say the type of experiments Johannes is doing without the ending being ruined. I could have done with the book being longer because he cuts it off a little in the middle. As far as I am concerned, I was just happy to read a book in the realm of horror that was not so simple written as a girl falling in love with a vampire or something of that nature. As for the humour, I liked it. I have read far worse books in my life and was very happy with this one. It may not be the best book around but I felt completely satisfied that it had not been a waste of my money or time. I look forward to anything Jonathan L. Howard writes in the future.

  11. I have just finished reading the book and it all comes together at the end. He can't say the type of experiments Johannes is doing without the ending being ruined. I could have done with the book being longer because he cuts it off a little in the middle. As far as I am concerned, I was just happy to read a book in the realm of horror that was not so simple written as a girl falling in love with a vampire or something of that nature. As for the humour, I liked it. I have read far worse books in my life and was very happy with this one. It may not be the best book around but I felt completely satisfied that it had not been a waste of my money or time. I look forward to anything Jonathan L. Howard writes in the future.

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