this is part of as days pass by, by Stuart Langridge

Books I own by Jonathan L. Howard

Johannes Cabal: The Necromancer goodreads

Jonathan L. Howard (Johannes Cabal #1)

Necromancer bloke gets dragooned by the Devil into running an evil carnival, and deals with it by being unbelieveably lippy to everyone all the time.

Weird book. I mean, Cabal is obviously meant to be a bit of a twat. But in the first chapter he just goes, oh well, better pop down to Hell and have a chat to Satan. This ought to only work if you're some sort of grotesquely powerful big deal, and so you get the impression that Cabal is, and he just isn't. It's refreshing to see this stuff presented without a huge sense of drama and whatnot, but either Cabal needs to be able to justify that lack of drama for doing a big thing or the story needs a better sense of majesty. The problem the Nightside books always had was that amazing things happened but the prose was so pedestrian that you missed out on half the coolness and sense of wonder; this starts almost like that but then turns into a normal story, assuming that stories can be composed entirely of snarky comments, which I like. Horst is way cooler than Johannes is.

Johannes Cabal: The Detective goodreads

Jonathan L. Howard (Johannes Cabal #2)

Snarky necromancer bloke in Murder on the Orient Airship.

Maintains the same uneasy balance of "and then Cabal did this amazing thing" followed by him basically being a snarky humourless bloke that the first book did. The story in this one is better and more believeable, though. Also, much, much more information about the world; Europe seems to be fragmented into Holmes-era little territories which each have princes and whatnot, but that's maintained into roughly the present day. Am sure actual historian people would be all "but but but what about this, and that, and the other, and how does the world look if the two world wars never happen, and, and, and", but I don't care; it makes a good backdrop for stories, and lets Howard (who did Broken Sword, I found out!) indulge himself with a world with guns and swords and airships and things made of brass and everything.

Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute goodreads

Jonathan L. Howard (Johannes Cabal #3)

More of the Cabal. And a fairly serious enemy, too. Couldn't help but be reminded of Only Forward's "Jeamland" by the world. Cabal deals with it all with aplomb, as usual.

The Death of Me goodreads

Jonathan L. Howard (Johannes Cabal #3)

Johannes Cabal short story, in which I was fooled too, so no blame, JC.

The Brothers Cabal goodreads

Jonathan L. Howard (Johannes Cabal #4)

Johannes and Horst, together again! I'm warming quite a lot to the lack of wonder in the prose of the Cabal books, especially since it's all so deadpan funny as well. Once again JC basically has everything worked out before getting into the fight, so he wins... and the ruthless ceaseless rationality is more attractive as something to emulate than perhaps it should be. There are just enough flashes of humanity and conscience that he's not an arse, and he knows this and doesn't like it which makes it all the better. Horst now less cool than his little brother.

Also, more authorial voice from Howard, the author, who seemingly harbours secret dreams of being Lemony Snicket and does a very good job of it. I read the nasty epilogue, of course.

The Fall of the House of Cabal goodreads

Jonathan L. Howard (Johannes Cabal #5)

The final Cabal. I really like this series, and I've got a lot more into it since first read; Cabal's gradual reluctant acquiration of the barest edges of humanity has humanised him (ha!) juuuuuust enough that his sardonic approach is excellent. Also, the author recommends you read the short stories before launching into this (he's gone full-bore Snicket in authorial asides now, which is a joy to behold) and he's not kidding, otherwise you'll have no idea who one of the major characters is. A good proportion of previously-appearing faces reappear here, and it's good to see them again. A fitting close to the series, and now I'm going to read them all again.

This has a lot of the same dreamlike mystic qualities as The Fear Institute did, so if you preferred the brass steampunk vibe of Detective then you might not like this as much. I was expecting a couple more Eugenides moments from Cabal where it turns out that He Knew All Along What Was Going On And Ahahaha but I can live without.

Thought: can't they just go through the Ways again? But that would deprive us of the bittersweet ending, which would be a net loss.

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