Literature: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer
Johannes Cabal, a necromancer of some little infamy, has never pretended to be a hero of any kind
. There is, after all, little heroic about robbing graves
, stealing occult volumes
, and being on nodding terms with demons
His purpose, however, is noble
. His researches are all directed to raising the dead. Not as monstrosities
but as people, just as they were when they lived: physically, mentally, and spiritually. For such a prize, some sacrifices are necessary
. One such sacrifice was his own soul
, but now he sees that was a mistake. He needs it for his research to have validity, you see— the laws of science are just not properly sciency around The Soulless
. That he needs it to be himself is... Irrelevant. Yes, definitely, irrelevant.
Unfortunately, his soul now rests within the festering bureaucracy of Hell. Satan
may be cruel and capricious but, most dangerously, he is bored. It is Cabal's unhappy lot to provide him with amusement.
In short, a wager: in return for his own soul, Cabal must gather one hundred others. Placed in control of a diabolical carnival
- created to tempt to contentiousness, to blasphemy, argumentation and murder, but one may also win coconuts
- and armed only with his intelligence, a very large handgun
, and a total absence of whimsy, Cabal has one year.
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer is the first novel written for Jonathan L Howard
's Johannes Cabal series. Before the novel, Howard has written several short stories in the Cabalverse. JC the Necromancer (2009) is followed by Johannes Cabal the Detective
(2010), Johannes Cabal And The Fear Institute
(2011) and The Brothers Cabal
Howard has also written a character sheet for Cabal, available here
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer has examples of:
- All There in the Manual: In addition to the three main novels (Necromancer, Detective, and Fear Institute,) Johnathan L. Howard has also written several short stories about Cabal. These short stories can be read as standalones, but provide readers of the novels extra insight into Cabal's character. (Good luck finding “Exeunt Demon King” and “Johannes Cabal and the Blustery Day” - they were published in a now-defunct magazine.) The House of Gears, the latest Cabal short story is available online.
- Jonathan L. Howard also released a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet for Cabal. It includes a good amount of additional back-story and even includes floor plans of Cabal's house.
- Alien Geometries: Ratuth Slabuth is largely composed of these.
- Alone with the Psycho
- Aloof Big Brother: Horst Cabal, Johannes's older brother. Or at least, Johannes considers him aloof. Horst would be perfectly happy to be friends with Johannes if he were capable of acting like a normal person instead of an uptight Jerkass.
- Ambiguous Disorder
- Ambiguously Evil: Cabal
- Back from the Dead
- Badass Bookworm: Cabal, though it's more prominent in the second book
- Badass Normal: Frank Barrow
- Better Living Through Evil: Cabal wants to cure death, and will do anything researching how to do that requires.
- Big Bad: Whether it's Satan or Cabal depends on who you ask.
- Black and Gray Morality: Cabal isn't good, but his goal is noble and by the end, we find out that he could be so much worse.
- Body Horror: Dennis and Denzil, as their bodies decay
- Break the Cutie
- Break the Haughty: The last few chapters for Cabal
- Came Back Wrong: Dennis and Denzil
- Carnival of Killers: In a more literal sense. Per Horst's suggestions, Cabal summons a variety of demons for is carnival, each with different specialties. Some of them do include killing.
- Celestial Bureaucracy: The novel's portrayal of Hell.
- The Charmer: Horst is noted to have been this in life, and maintains it as a vampire, with the addition of a different kind of charm.
- Circles of Hell: Arthur Trubshaw's bureaucracy is considered its own circle of hell.
- Combat Pragmatist: Cabal prefers certainty over subtlety or style. Hence, the Webley .577, "a weapon of egregious aspect."
- Creepy Cemetery
- Cutting the Knot: Cabal's favored method of dealing with revengers.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Cabal. In his profession, he needs to be in order to stay alive.
- Dark and Troubled Past
- The Dark Arts
- Deal with the Devil: Deconstructed. Cabal initially sells his soul to Satan in exchange for the secrets of necromancy. Cabal is dissatisfied with his soulless state as he is unable to trust the results of his experiments. He spends the first novel trying to get his soul back via another deal with Satan.
- Deadpan Snarker: Horst and Johannes, but the former is more prone to this.
- Death by Origin Story
- Death Equals Redemption: Horst, though mostly not his own redemption.
- Death Is a Sad Thing: Cabal genuinely dislikes killing, as it's a waste.
- Death Is Cheap: Played with every which way, but ultimately averted.
- Demonic Possession
- Dressed All in Rubber: Layla the Latex Lady takes this to entirely new levels...
- Did Cabal Just Have Tea with Satan?
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Horst, again
- Dysfunction Junction: The countryside Cabal's train roams has problems with escaped mental patients, murders and a few demons.
- The Dragon: Ratuth Slabuth to Satan
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: When angered, Satan's rage creates intense cold and freezing wind around him, and is even powerful enough to temporarily freeze parts of Hell.
- Evil Is Hammy: Ratuth Slabuth loves a good entrance. Rufus Maleficarus also one for dramatics - a fact that Cabal is happy to take advantage of.
- Evil Old Folks: Satan's avatar the "Little Old Man" is this, essentially the Platonic ideal of a crusty old man.
- Evil Plan: Satan's, until Cabal proves to be a Spanner in the Works.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Many.
- Fantastically Indifferent: Several, Cabal and Horst chief among them.
- Faux Affably Evil: Satan, his avatar the Little Old Man and the construct Mr. Bones are all characterized as having a front of charm and bonhomie that covers their actual cruel and demonic nature.
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Horst, who has the lions' share of morals between the Cabal siblings.
- Functional Magic: Played with. Magic exists, but it's not particularly functional.
- Genius Bruiser: One of the carnival's constructs
- Genre Savvy: Horst, when asking Cabal for some blood:
Horst: Look, what's bothering you? It's the homoerotic aspect, isn't it? (Runs after Cabal) Well, don't flatter yourself. It's just a transfusion, for crying out loud.
- Girl in a Box
- Ghost Town
- Girl Next Door: Leonie Barrow. Beautiful country girl that Cabal is drawn to at first sight, or bothers him by looking familiar, she is also the only female in the book that is portrayed in a truly positive light, especially when compared to Femme Fatale Layla or Nea Winshaw.
- God and Satan Are Both Jerks: Cabal concludes that this must be the case, since Hell consists of eternal torment run by a bored sadist, and those who go to Heaven lose their individuality and become a sort of loving/worshipful mass of light.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Maleficarus, though he wasn't the picture of mental health beforehand.
- Grotesque Gallery
- Guile Hero: Horst, arguably
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Leonie Barrow
- Hand Cannon: The Webley .577.
- Heel Realization: Played with. Cabal knows he's not a hero and that what he does is evil, but he considers it necessary. Until Horst's suicide shows him he's gone too far.
- Hero Antagonist: Frank Barrow plays this role in the later part of the novel.
- He Who Fights Monsters
- Hidden Depths: Cabal proves this by the end.
- Hilarity Ensues
- Ho Yay: In-universe: Horst suspects this is why Cabal is uncomfortable with being Horst's blood donor.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Leonie Barrow
- Infant Immortality: Averted, then played straight with Nea Winshaw's baby.
- Intelligence Equals Isolation: Played with. While he could be friendly and outgoing if he really wanted, Cabal intentionally distances himself from people whenever possible.
- I Wished You Were Dead: Horst and Cabal alternate with this for each other
- Karma Houdini: Cabal, because Satan finds that he causes more chaos alive than dead.
- Karmic Death: While not exactly death, victims who signed their souls over to damnation were usually tempted by vices that they already had.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Most of the souls Cabal collects are people that would have gone to Hell anyway. Arguably happens to him a few times, too.
- Last Name Basis: Johannes Cabal is most often simply known as 'Cabal,' while Horst Cabal goes by his first name.
- The Legions of Hell
- The Lost Lenore: Pretty much the basis for everything.
- Lovecraft Country
- Lovecraft Lite
- Love Makes You Evil: Cabal's ultimate motivation.
- Mad Scientist: Played with with Cabal
- Monster Clown: After they reach a certain point of decay, Dennis and Denzil have their horrible faces masked by paint and are enlisted as clowns, because people like clowns, right?
- Moral Dilemma
- Morality Chain: Horst tries to serve as this for Cabal
- My Greatest Failure
- Necessarily Evil: How Cabal sees his work
- Nerves of Steel
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Satan to Cabal
- Not So Stoic: Cabal at times
- Necromancer: Cabal.
- Noodle Incident
Horst: (to Johannes) Good God, you’re not still bitter about that time at Conrad’s party, are you? I’ve apologised for that a dozen times over. It was a joke.
- No Social Skills: Cabal realizes this, but concludes that people are simply unworthy of his time. This comes back to bite him when his wager with Satan requires him to run a carnival. Cabal is grudgingly forced to run to his brother Horst for help.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Arthur Trubshaw. His talents earned him a position in Hell.
- Our Demons Are Different
- Our Vampires Are Different: Horst has both proven and debunked many of myths: sunlight kills him, but he doesn't need the coffin. Vampirism is spread via the mixing of blood and not the bite. He still has a reflection.
- Pardon My Klingon: When English and German cannot sufficiently express his anger, Cabal swears in dead languages.
- Parting Words Regret
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Cabal does this to Trubshaw and Ratuth Slabuth.
- Perpetual Frowner: Cabal has little use for smiling. It shows.
- Pet the Dog: Cabal gets a few moments of this.
- Phenotype Stereotype
- Pocket Dimension: Johannes Cabal gets briefly trapped in one.
- Precision F-Strike: Horst uses one to end an argument with his brother near the end of the novel.
- Refuge in Audacity: How Cabal survives Hell.
- Resuscitate The Dog: After Horst kills himself.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Satan's avatar.
Old Man: Neat, eh? Goes down a bomb at parties, I can tell you.
Cabal: Really? I’ll have to hold a soirée just to impress my friends.
Old Man: You haven’t got any friends.
Cabal: I’m not holding a soirée, either. You have a problem with sarcasm, don’t you?
- Science Hero: If you believe that Cabal is a hero.
- Serial Killer: One of the prison escapees. He kills people because that is the only way for people to notice him.
- Shout-Out: The "Loofah Lady" is a nod to Bram Stoker's "Bloofer Lady" in Dracula, and The Rufus Maleficarus episode is an extended Shout-Out to the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Significant Monogram: Johannes shares his initials with another guy who used to resurrect people.
- The Soulless: Cabal
- Sour Outside, Sad Inside
- Spanner in the Works: Several. Most notably Horst, who steals one of the 100 contracts Johannes needs to get signed in order to win his bet with Satan.
- The Spock: Surprisingly, Cabal's soulless state did little to contribute to this.
- Starfish Language: A few of the languages Cabal uses for swearing
- The Stoic: Guess.
- Stoic Spectacles
- Sword Cane: Cabal has one, concealing a 3-foot steel blade.
- Sympathy for the Devil
- These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know
- Those Two Bad Guys: Dennis and Denzel. Until Cabal kills them and zombifies them with Batch 247.
- Those Two Guys: Again, Dennis and Denzel
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: Cabal is mentioned to have several lying about his house.
- Totalitarian Utilitarian: As seen throughout the novels, Cabal doesn't give a shit about the means, only the ends.
- Tranquil Fury
- Trauma Conga Line
- The Unsmile: Cabal practices this all the time daily in order to scare small children and the elderly.
- The Vamp: Layla the Latex Lady
- The Vicar: Cabal meets a stereotypical one toward the end of the story and in a nod to the stereotypical laxness of the Church of England, when Cabal tells him that he is a Satanist, the Vicar simply asks if Cabal is happy with that choice, which has the effect of an Armor-Piercing Question on Cabal.
- Villain Protagonist: Possibly also related to the fact that Cabal is a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
- Weapon of Choice: A Webley .577 handgun.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Take a wild guess.
- What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: While Cabal has no problem with committing violent acts of murder, he does not like to.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Horst to Cabal, often.
- When He Smiles: At one point, Cabal smiles following a Pet the Dog moment, and the narration notes that for once, his smile wouldn't have scared small children.
- Wicked Cultured: Both of the Cabal brothers.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Cabal's favored method of human interaction.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: Cabal with Maleficarus' horde of sanitarium escapees.
- You Killed My Father: Rufus Maleficarus claimed that Cabal killed his father. Cabal claims that it didn't count because, technically, Maleficarus's father was already dead.
- Your Soul Is Mine