Faustian in nature, the first in the Cabal series is witty, wry and in general, hysterical. The title character attempts to win back his soul from the Devil (traded for scientific secrets). He is given a second chance and one year to collect one-hundred souls. Aided by his bitter and vampiric brother, the two manage a sinister carnival of the rails, tempting the line-walkers to the dark side. The Cabal Brothers Carnival is manned by the reanimated remains of idiots and freaks, brought back to (semi) life by Johannes. As the hourglass nears empty, Johannes becomes more and more desperate to fulfill his quota with his ghoulish ways.
The story seems to live outside of a particular place or time. While the style seems British, the names are German. The feel is a medieval, Gothic morality play yet the carnival travels by train and there is mention of electric lights. The existence of this netherworld works and allows for the belief in the magical acts to follow.
Each chapter is decorated with a pen & ink drawing by Linda "Snugbat" Smith, like so (right) and a title description which hints at things to come, a la Boris Akunin. The adventure is great fun and I was thrilled to discover there is already a sequel published, and a third on the way. Long live (soulless or not) Cabal.
For more fun: http://www.johannescabal.com/necromancerflash.html
Reviewer did not receive a review copy of this book.
Format: Trade Paperback, 304 pages
On Sale: June 1, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7679-3076-5 (0-7679-3076-2)