Necromancer1

The Necromancer Jonathan L Howard

Shocked Smiles You know it’s been so long since we’ve done a text review that I honestly forgot how to kick it off? What happened to my patented ‘IMAGINE’ you may ask.
Surprised Sharky You don’t have a patent on the word imagine, Smiles.
Default Smiles It’s only a matter of time. Anyway, IMAGINE you’ve sold your soul to the devil. You idiot. Naturally you want to get it back.
Happy Sharky2 Sounds simple enough. Do you still have the receipt?
Default Smiles He’s joking because of course you don’t. So in an effort to get it back, you make another deal with the devil. You idiot. The deal is to get a hundred souls in a year to trade. And you’ve been granted a demonic carnival to ‘help’ you.
Sassy Sharky Yes. Help. Of course you have the full unwavering helpful support of the devil who of course wouldn’t try to sabotage you in any way.
Sassy Smiles You idiot.
Happy Sharky2 Three for three. But maybe you’re a little self aware about being a thrice born (and once damned) fool, because you enlist your thankfully better equipped and annoyingly more moral brother to help you. There’s no way any of this could go anything but well! And hey, let's take a sidebar to appreciate that cover art. Micheal Windsor's made something minimalist and striking. Though the cover of the third book is the best without question.
Surprised Smiles It’s a bit of a roller coaster, honestly. It can go from darkly funny to darkly uncomfortable in the space of a few paragraphs, and then go right back. Not that that’s bad, just a little jarring sometimes. There’s a chapter where the main theme is basically domestic abuse and desire. And while I get that the idea was to show us a pretty terrible person so he gets a bit of a satisfying comeuppance, it just made me squirm uncomfortably until it was done. And it was a bit unexpected. Just like it has some incredibly silly moments out of nowhere. But from my experience you’ll be so amused but those that it won’t be that jarring.
Happy Sharky Funnily enough, the parts that take place in Hell drop a lot of the discomfort and angst that is wont to crop up, speeding along on pacy black humour, and it’s magnificent. Hell is just so petty, and Johannes, the main character, is increasingly petty when dealing with the inhabitants. Its beautiful.
Happy Smiles Mister Fancy-Pants-Living-Fella is a phrase that cropped up, and for me immediately went down in the mental list of things you remember just to snicker at every now and again in a quiet moment.
Default Sharky It’s a dark, clever, sometimes absurd roller coaster. With a last couple of pages that made me want to throw it out the window.
Surprised Smiles I did see him making faces the first time we read it… are we getting a Sharky rant?
Angry Sharky Hoo boy. I had a whole rant ready. I still have it ready, but since my whole problem is with the ending of the book anything I say would be a spoiler. But let’s get this clear. I really did enjoy this book. And when I say I have a problem with the end, I don’t mean with the payoff of the plot or anything. I just mean a line. Just a line of character insight that made me ragingly, furiously angry with said character and I just didn’t want to follow him down a plotline anymore.
Default Smiles … so it’s just as well it happened in the last two pages of the book, huh?
Happy Sharky2 Hm. I tend to skip the ending on rereads, all the same. But that’s no loss, there’s more than enough you want to revisit. All the Hell scenes, for one thing. There’s a whole chapter written from the point of view of a kid visiting the carnival, complete with awful spellings. There’s a murderer who only started killing because he was upset nobody noticed him. And people STILL haven’t noticed him. There’s Johannes’ complete inability to understand and deal with people, which never gets old.

Necromancer2

Default Smiles It is worth mentioning the characters are lovely. Not always… as people. I definitely wouldn’t call Johannes lovely as a person. But lovely to read, constantly impatient, baffled, and vindictive with tiny sparks of a human being trying to come out which just isn’t going to happen. And his brother Horst is actually lovely as a person, mostly, and just as lovely to read because he’s either being witty or concerned or making fun of his brother.
Happy Sharky The detective is great too. You could maybe call him the ‘antagonist’ of the story, insofar as anyone who might uncover the true reason of the carnival and try to stop it is an antagonist. He’s solid, steady, and incredibly suspicious of the carnival because he’s spent his life being incredibly suspicious of things and turning out to be right about them. It’s about 50% he’s suspicious because he’s an experienced detective and knows what things to look out for, and 50% something INCREDIBLY suspicious has just happened and he’s the only one not gullible enough to be placated with excuses. For some reason that’s just great. I wouldn’t mind a short detective series of incredibly suspicious magical things happening and him trying to sneak in and solve them.
Surprised Smiles A slight problem is sometimes, not always, but sometimes, it feels like two books trying to happen at the same time. Nine times out of ten they merge perfectly. The tenth time is when the story is over and we’re on the wrap-up chapter. It feels… really slow after everything and I couldn’t really enjoy it, as much as it was a nice to get a little insight on what Johannes is like when he’s not actively damning people. And I took the last two pages in the tragic spirit it was meant but maybe that’s not for everyone.
Quiet Sharky Hmph.
Surprised Smiles It just felt like less of a ‘we’re concluding on a quiet note’ and ‘we’ve abruptly ripped the pace away from you and you can flounder around trying to get your bearings’. On the other hand I really can’t think of a smoother way to transition, so maybe there just isn’t one. Now I’ll say that’s a positive point for the rest of the book because I was so wrapped up in everything that I didn’t want to come down from the action. Never stop. Loop back to the first chapter and just enjoy the bits I liked all over again. But then that’s true for any book I enjoy, even the ones with smooth endings. Endings shouldn’t exist! Ban endings!
Surprised Sharky But if books don’t end and you keep looping through them, how will you ever stop reading one and pick up another?
intent-smiles
Surprised Sharky 2
Sad Smiles 2 Endings. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

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