Review: Johannes Cabal series by Jonathan L. Howard


Two thumbs up for Johannes Cabal (series) by Jonathan L. Howard. Fantasy.

The adventures of Johannes Cabal, antisocial necromancer, as he seeks the cure for death (occasionally assisted by his brother Horst, the unwilling vampire–who got all the charm in that family). My friend Alex has been bugging me to read these for years now. When I finally got there, I ended up binging all five books and all available short stories in 12 days. Then, my friends, what did I do? I went online and bought a Cabal Bros. t-shirt. One can draw the (correct) conclusion that I am slightly obsessed. Not only are they are rollicking good books with utterly memorable characters, they are–and I do not say this lightly–Terry-Pratchett-level funny. Every paragraph, every sentence, is torqued for maximum wit. There aren’t many books that make me laugh out loud on every page. These do. Choosing just one paragraph to share here was next to impossible. If you like fantasy and you haven’t read these, move them straight to the top of your to-read pile. Then maybe contribute to Howard’s Patreon.

In all fairness, Cabal’s vengefulness was as much a product of his lifestyle as his humours; in his career to date, he had long since discovered that rivals and enemies rarely simply shook their heads and wandered out of his life, older and wiser. Instead, they were inclined to go off to a dark corner and fester away on new plots and schemes that would explode all over his life like acidic pus. Johannes Cabal had far better things to do with his time than spend it dodging acidic pus, so he had realised early on that the best way to avoid assorted blowhards and rapscallions bursting through the door declaiming “We meet again, Mister Cabal!”, or some such nonsense, was simply to kill them the first time around when they were handy and vulnerable. It wasn’t a perfect solution, he had to admit; his rivals and enemies tended to have access to the same sort of forbidden arcane arts and unwholesome sciences that he did, and so having them sometimes come crawling out of their graves, intent on inflicting a messy postmortem revenge, was not unknown.

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