Jamie Davis Writes


Johannes Cabal

On My Bookshelf: The Brothers Cabal, by Jonathan L. Howard

The Brothers Cabal

Jonathan Howard focuses more on Horst (the vampire brother) in the fourth installment of the series. I thought it was a nice change to have Horst as the main character in this one, and have his personality developed a bit more for us.

A mysterious society (The Ministerium) has raised Horst from the dead. Less Nosferatu / Lord of the Dead, Horst is really more of a Dapper Dan sort of vampire, which makes for some funny reading. Horst soon discovers the true purpose of the society, which is to raise an army of the dead (zombies, vampires, and werewolves, to be even more specific) to take over society. Chapter 8 (“In Which We Encounter Ladies Wearing Trousers”) introduces some female fighter pilots who are fantastically interwoven into the tale. Really enjoyed those audacious trouser-wearing ladies!

One can’t help but read this as a political parody of today’s Globalism / One World movement. It makes you wonder. Would our victory be as clean and clear as Horst and Johannes found their war? Let us hope.

On My Bookshelf: Johannes Cabal The Fear Institute, by Jonathan L. Howard

Johannes Cabal The Fear Institute

And… we are back to why I LOVE this series! This time, Johannes does what he does best (in my opinion) — visiting a new world on a quest. This time, Jonathan L. Howard gives a nod to H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Dreamlands.” The Fear Institute scouts Cabal, and they are off to The Dreamlands, to find and destroy the source of all the world’s fear (the Phobic Animus).

I loved that their first stop was across the pond to none other than Arkham, in Massachusetts. Cabal fights monsters, and realizes along the way that he has somehow caught the attention of a God (Nyarlothotep). There is a witch, and a whole gaggle of ghouls, one of which knows him (although Cabal has not yet recognized who the ghoul is – a former human from Cabal’s past).

The Dreamlands and the encounters with the characters (not to mention Nyarlothotep alone) are very trippy, and quite frankly, one of the reasons I read books. It is pure, enjoyable fun. Howard is so witty with his pennings of Cabal’s conversations! I frequently find myself writing “Hilarious!” within the book and marking sections with post-its to read later as examples of how a book should be and why I like it so much.

There is a big twist at the end (beginning in Chapter 14) that I particularly enjoyed, marking the passage as “At which point I begin to say DAMN a lot.” And don’t even get me started on the cat scene in Chapter 12. Yikes! Well done, Mr. Howard. Well done. And thank you for this book.

On My Bookshelf: Johannes Cabal the Detective, by Jonathan L. Howard

Johannes Cabal The Detective

I have finished the second book of the series. Johannes Cabal still retains his same dry, witty character, and I am still excited to read the remaining books in the series. Cabal is just so clever. However, I would say that while I could absolutely gush about the first book, I do not feel inspired to gush about the second book.

Leonie Barrow is back, and this time, her character is a bit annoying, and I can’t really even remember why she was here. Count Marechal makes for a worthy adversary, but let’s face it, how do you top the first story where Cabal beats the devil and wins his soul back? Perhaps it isn’t fair for me to compare the two books!

Maybe the detective story set on board an aeroship didn’t work for me just as a personal preference? I thought the story on board was a little slow for my liking. I did appreciate gathering a bit more back story on Cabal’s family life, and thought it was hysterical that he was being groomed to go into the family business (as a lawyer) before his wife died and he became a Necromancer.

I did enjoy this installment, it is just that the first book was really a knockout unexpected tale of SHEER AWESOMENESS, and my honest reaction is that the second one just didn’t make me feel the same. Sigh. Maybe the third book will knock me out again!




On My Bookshelf: Johannes Cabal The Necromancer, by Jonathan L. Howard

Never before has a deal with the devil been such rollicking good fun!

Johannes Cabal The Necromancer

Howard’s portrayal of Johannes, and his vampire brother (Horst), makes for a hilariously dark read that takes you from graveyards, from town to town, and directly into the pits of hell itself. Johannes is a scientist who previously made a deal with the devil to learn the art of necromancy. Now, he wants his soul back and makes a second deal with the devil in order to win it back. One that involves a dark carnival (read as inspired by “Something Wicked this Way Comes,” by Ray Bradbury) in which Johannes must get one hundred souls signed over to the devil in order to win his soul back.

You will see just how far over the line Johannes is willing to step as far as getting evil/corrupt people to sign over their souls (people who are arguably damned anyway) vs. tricking innocent souls into signing their lives away. It makes for an interesting ponder over what you might be capable of doing to others if it meant saving yourself or someone you loved. Would you damn an innocent in order to save yourself? If you say that you wouldn’t, I bet when push came to shove, you would. The fight for self-preservation in order to live is very strong, and is an ingrained instinct that would be hard to change, even if you wanted to.

The writing is full of wit, and the darkness of the subject matter is balanced with the humor of both the situations themselves, and by the dialogue between the characters.

I loved it! We learn at the end of this book exactly why necromancy is so important to Johannes. He doesn’t want to create a zombie army to do his evil bidding, nothing like that. The point isn’t that he wants a bunch of animated corpses to provide free labor to work in his lab. He has a reason for wanting what he wants that isn’t based on an evil desire to harm the world, and this reason is what makes him a sympathetic character.

This is the first book of a series, and I have already ordered the remaining books, with the exception of the fifth (because it hasn’t been released yet).

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