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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully loony, surprisingly sad., June 22, 2009
This review is from: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Hardcover)
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Johannes Cabal has sold his soul to the devil - with immediate possession - in exchange for magic and arcane wisdom that will help him further his research. But he discovers he needs his soul, not for any particular spiritual reason, but because he believes that being without it is hindering his work. And so he sets out to strong-arm Satan into giving it back. He's willing to make a deal, but both he and Satan drive hard bargains, and in the end, Johannes agrees that within the space of a single year he will deliver one hundred other souls in exchange for his own. And just because he's an okay guy, Satan gives Cabal a carnival. Not your fun-and-games, cotton candy and wild rides sort of carnival either, but one which has the potential to corrupt and destroy human beings.

There's something about this book which reminds me a great deal of Gaiman's and Pratchett's "Good Omens" which is one of my favorites. Probably it's the sense that what's going on in the narrative is serious stuff, and should be taken seriously... except it's not. The danger, the corruption, the infernal interference would all make a terrific horror novel, if it wasn't so damn funny. I guess that in the final analysis, evil isn't majestic or magnificent, but rather it's small and petty and even bureaucratic in nature. Evil is less being rent limb from limb by hell hounds and more getting pecked to death by ducks.

But there is an underlying seriousness within this book, and it's about the nature of the individual soul, about the relationships that have made the characters what they are, and which drive them to do what they do. That is, at least, deadly serious, and rightly so. And yet, that seriousness, and the sadness behind it, is always overlaid by a lively sense of the absurd, kept at arms length until the end when the bet with Satan ends and the truth about Cabal's work is made clear.

In spite of a few slow spots along the way, "Johannes Cabal, The Necromancer" held my attention both through my own sense of the absurd and my curiosity about how it would all turn out in the end. And I have to say that I was satisfied. I enjoyed the heck out of the book, and I think anyone who is willing to go along with the often hilarious narrative, will too.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 13, 2010 3:08:29 PM PST
rico567 says:
Most evil in our world doesn't lurk in crumbling cemeteries, Transylvanian castles, or Lovecraftian fungus-encrusted New England villages. Much is banal, trivial, and takes place in clean, well-lighted places.....the scenario for much of the Holocaust.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2010 3:20:11 PM PST
Tracy Rowan says:
Absolutely. The castles and monsters are nice ways of externalizing our fears. It makes them easier to dismiss.
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