Friday, October 31, 2014

Carnival Of Souls

Being the awesome person that I am, occasionally somebody will randomly buy me books, or lend me books, or chuck books at my head that they think I might find interesting.  Usually this is accompyyed by, "hey this book sounds really weird, I think you'll like it."  I'm not 100% sure what to make of this, but I have gotten several good books this way, so I'm not gonna knock it.  One book I aquired in such a manner is Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard.  As I was looking for one last October book and I had looked at this one several times, I was a happy girl.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Johannes Cabal is a necromancer.  He aquired these powers for a purely scientific purpose and sold his soul to Satan to obtain the secrets of bringing the dead back to life.  As with all deals with the devil, this one is imperfect and Cabal is stuck trying to perfect the process.  He soon realizes that his lack of soul is hindering his expermentation and so goes to Hell to make a deal with Satan.  After a bit of haggeling, Satan gives him a Diabolical Carnival, a ball of his blood to create and control it and a year to get 100 souls in exchange for his own back.  Cabal goes and releases his brother Horst from an old crypt after an incident turns him into a vampire.  Horst is able to actually understand humans and is able to help Cabal put together an appealing, if insane event.  Several little events happen along the way, but the majority of the story follows Cabal and his quest for souls.  For the most part Cabal only collects the souls of people who were probably headed for Hell anyways, and as long as this is the case, Horst holds his tounge.  Along the carnival route, Satan throws a couple of curve
balls just for fun, but Cabal overcomes them and continues to collect souls.  The carnival finally arrives at the last stop, an idyllic town that is harder to woo then previous ones.  Cabal has only two souls left to collect and is feeling pretty good.  Things start to go very very very wrong when instead of his normal bad soul collecting, Cabal pushes a young woman who has been sleep deprived and exhausted by her new baby to kill it.  In exchnge for her soul, Cabal brings the baby back to life. This henious act disturbs Horst to the point that he starts to oppose his brother.  At the last moment Cabal aquires the soul of a good woman who volunteers to give it up in exchange for her fathers life.  Enraged over this apparent lack of humanity, Horst reveals that he stole a form and that Cabal only has 99 out of the 100 souls Cabal needs to reclaim his soul.  Horst then walks out in the sun, ending his life.  Cabal heads back to Hell to deal with Satan once again.  Noting that he is desperate for the souls of the two women, Cabal makes quit a sneaky trade and recieves his soul back.  His cleverness works and he is able to keep the souls of the two women out of Satan's hands.  He goes home to continue his necromancy research and we see that he has kept the body of what I assume was his wife or girlfriend preserved, giving us the reason he is so obsessive.  A sequal is obvious, but the story is complete.
This was a fun and fairly quick read.  It was a bit scattershot, but got the story across, especially in the second half.  Some things of note.  What I think I liked the best was the fact that Johannes Cabal was technically a Satanist, but not for any religious reasons, it was just the only way he felt he could get what he needed.  He deals with all of the incantation, summonings, ghosts, demons, and other otherworldly things with a detached and logical manner that completley belies most stereotypes we have seen in the past.  Cabal also showed a degree of humanism through out the book that was at odds with his supposed villiany.  Many times through out the book he showed a compassion, that though it was tempered with logic and saracasm, was always present.  This helped with the sheer
horror I felt when he encouraged the young woman to kill her baby, and was a very effective writing tool.  I like stories like this where good and bad is not always cut and dry...does it count as stealing a soul if it was going to Hell anyways?  Do the ends justify the means?  What is the difference between magic and science?  All great quetions brought up by this book.  The writing itself tried a little too hard to be humorus and was at its best when the author just wrote the story, not trying to force the clever humor that only works on occasion.  There were a few bits, especially in the beginning that did not seem to fit the story as a whole, but like I said earlier, this seemed to resolve itself later in the book.  I loved the solution to Cabal's issues with Satan at the end of the book, and I really loved that although Cabal got what he came for, his life is still very far from perfect and he still had to live with the consequences of his actions.  I wish we could have seen a bit more of the carnival, mostly because I LOVE LOVE LOVE circus's and carnivals, especially ones with a supernatural twist.  Overall I reccomend this book to anybody who saw The Devil's Carnival and enjoyed at least certain aspects of it, enjoys a good deal with the devil, or just likes a nice story about the harvesting of souls.  I give this book 7 out of 10 Latex Ladies and will probably pick up the sequal at some point.
What would it take for you to sell your soul?  Do you like books that combine horror and humor?  Why does everybody think I like weird things?

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