Monday, January 7, 2013

Johannes Cabal, Necromancer

So as I sit watching Interview With a Vampire for the millionth time, I also wonder, for the millionth time, how they could so poorly cast Antonio Banderas as Armand.  Armand was written as a Russian born, red headed 17 year old boy who his maker Marius constantly refers to as one of Botticelli's angels.  Yes a large, raven haired man with a Spanish accent so thick he can hardly say vampire fits the bill.  But I digress.

I decided to use this blog not only to nerd out, but to discuss the books I read.  You can always find me nose to Nook.  Through the holiday season I settled into reading Jonathan L. Howard's Johannes Cabal the Necromancer.  What drew me to this book was not only my love of sci fi/gothic/fantasy novels, but also because it reminded me of one of my absolute favorite books Night Circus by Erin Morganstern.  "An enchanted circus!  I'm in!"  Quoth I.

Here is a brief overview of the book complements of Amazon:  
Johannes Cabal sold his soul years ago in order to learn the laws of necromancy.  Now he wants it back.  Amused and slightly bored, Satan proposes a little wage:  Johannes has to persuade one hundred people to sign over their souls or he will be damned forever.  This time for real.  Accepting the bargain, Jonathan is given one calendar year and a traveling carnival to complete his task.  With little time to waste, Johannes raises a motley crew from the dead and enlists his brother, Horst, a charismatic vampire to help him run his nefarious road show, resulting in mayhem at every turn.

The book is basically omniscient vignettes over the year Johannes has to fulfill his wager.  Some of the vignettes directly following Cabal's pursuit of souls, others follow how the attendees react to the circus, often in a very Douglass Adams, Arthur Dent kind of way.  One of the vignettes I enjoyed most was partially written through the eyes of an elementary school boy, writing about the demonically run circus in a "What did you do this weekend?" type essay.  Between the boys misspellings, bad grammar and tough attitude you can't help but laugh.

This novel also featured a cast of wonderful characters.  Most of the characters are conjured by Cabal using the blood Satan provides to help him run the carnival, not to mention the bright characters of Satan and his henchmen.  There are bumbling zombies and sharp tongued bone-y assistants.  There is even a sexy latex lady and a cockney Cleopatra.  But the character I enjoyed the most is Johannes' brother Horst, a quick witted vampire who is just full of good morals.  I always love a good vampire.

There were a few dry spots and I was constantly frustrated trying to figure out what time period Howard was trying for.  Sometimes it felt like a steampunk late 1800s novel, quickly switching a chapter later to a very 50s feel.  Obviously this is fiction, in a world were magic is real and people are leery of Necromancers but for some reason the ambiguous time period really irritated me.  Other than that I found the book both humorous and entertaining, full of imagination.  There are two more books in the series and I will be reading both at some point over the next year.

Now to start the next reading adventure....