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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-20 18:50
Review: Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan

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Ellison lost her mother at an early age. But since then, her father has found love again. He's happy and doesn't quite notice that Ellison does not get along with his new wife or her mean daughters. When Ellison discovers a necromantic tome while traveling the secret passages of her father's mansion, she wonders if it could be the key to her freedom. Until then, she must master her dark new power, even as her stepmother makes her a servant in her own home. And when her younger brother falls incurably ill, Ellison will do anything to ease his pain, including falling prey to her stepmother and stepsisters' every whim and fancy. Stumbling into a chance meeting of Prince William during a secret visit to her mother's grave feels like a trick of fate when her stepmother refuses to allow Ellison to attend a palace festival. But what if Ellison could see the kind and handsome prince once more? What if she could attend the festival? What if she could have everything she ever wanted and deserved by conjuring spirits to take revenge on her cruel stepmother? As Ellison's power grows, she loses control over the evil spirits meant to do her bidding. And as they begin to exert their own power over Ellison, she will have to decide whether it is she or her stepmother who is the true monster.

***Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***

 

What’s Good: How about the opening line for starters- “Blood. The blood of my enemies drips down my forearms, fleeing the confines of the spaces between my fingers, traveling toward freedom on the cold, stone floor.” Got your attention, yet?

 

This is a very imaginative twist on the fairytale. Everything old is new again in this one. There’s a few homages to the classic version of the tale, but ain’t no fairy godmothers floating around here. Nope- what comes to Ella’s aid is far more disturbing and best left undisturbed. Author F.M. Boughan cites researching historical texts and grimoires on necromancy, and it shows. Well done!

 

The necromancy comes into play as part of the struggle between Heaven and Hell, the forces of Good vs the armies of Evil. Ella’s struggles with what she’s doing and why are valid and believable. As her power grows, she thinks she’s come to terms with the price of it, but then she realizes that price is greater than she’s willing to pay. But will she be strong enough to do so anyway?

 

There’s several twists on the tale that’ll keep you involved; it’s like a full-on rendering of the original Brothers Grimm version- you know, with the sisters cutting off parts of their feet in order to fit the glass slipper and whatnot. Often gory and gruesome, this one ain’t for the faint of heart.

 

What’s Bad: Ella’s also a bit of a dunce. The author does a good job of putting you inside Ella’s head and making her feel like a vibrant, three-dimensional character, but too many times in the story she never bothered to question anything or stop to consider the consequences of her actions. She’s got a book of demonology/necromancy in her hands, but never bothers to read any further than what she needs to get what she wants yet always wonders about the dangers of abusing such power… maybe ya ought to flip a few pages ahead and find out???

 

She’s constantly skulking about the house trying to sneak around her new stepmother and siblings trying to learn things, only to bump, bang into or trip over something, leading to another Steve Erkel moment, “…oh, did *I* do that?!?” After a while you can pretty much see when they’re coming up.

 

There’s a few WTF moments in the plot that threaten to derail things. The night Ella’s father disappears he gives her something before he leaves- literally placing it in her hand. Does she look at it right away?- no. When does she look at it? Right after she sneaks out of the house in the dead of night, crawls under the locked main gate, runs all the way through the village to her mother’s grave, calls out to her mother’s spirit, meets a mysterious stranger who protects her from some Things That Go Bump In The Night, and sees her back to the village. Only after she’s safely home again after all that does she actually OPEN HER HAND to see what it was her father gave her. *facepalm*

 

The disappearance of Ella’s father made almost as much sense as all that did. For storytelling purposes he had to be out of the picture, sure, but… his reasons made no sense. It’s the usual “I had to leave to protect you” nonsense, except that he’s the one who created the problem in the first place by marrying Celia and knew full well what was going on, so clearly the best solution was to leave a bunch of people- including his own children- who’ve no idea about any of it at the tender mercies of some seriously malicious individuals and hope for the best. *double facepalm*

 

What’s Left: an entertaining, if flawed, work that you’ll enjoy reading. If all the Fairy Tale Re-imaginings are starting to get stale to you, this one’ll be a bit of fresh air.

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review 2017-08-10 23:31
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Johannes Cabal #1) by Jonathan L. Howard
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer - Jonathan L. Howard
Having sold his soul to the devil in order to learn the secrets of necromany, Johannes isn't pleased to discover that the bargain has not achieved the results he had hoped for and that in fact, he actually needs his soul back.  This realisation results in a trip to hell to bargain with the devil to regain his soul.  Johannes strikes a deal to get 100 people to sign over their souls to the devil in exchange for his own soul back.  With the help of his vampire older brother Horst and a demonic train, it's a race against time to see who will become the victor. 
 
I must admit to being a little bit conflicted about this book. There were times when the dark humour had me outright laughing and times when the story seemed to drag on because of repetitiveness.  There's only so many times one can read descriptions of gouls and be entertained by them.  Howard is at times needlessly verbose though generally speaking the language helps to cement Cabal's character.
 
As with any Faustian deal, there is an element of morality to this story.  Johannes is so intent in collecting the 100 souls that he doesn't think about the destruction that his travelling carnival is leaving in its wake. What is the point of regaining one's soul only to lose it in the act of regaining it?  Horst, the vampire is the moral authority in this case. It's Horst who blocks a child from accidentally selling his soul and Horst who points out that there's a difference between getting people to sign who were already destined to go to hell and actively corrupting those who would not have ended up in hell.  Horst can see unlike Johannes that this is so much more than a numbers game.
 
It's Horst who explains to Johannes that there's a difference between tricking a man who abuses women and discards them into selling his soul and tricking a stressed out and overwhelmed single mother into killing her child. No matter how hard Horst tries, Johannes simply cannot see.  Even when elements of Johannes soften, they don't last long for the simple reason that his drive to regain his soul is so strong. 
 
It's not until the very end that we clearly understand what is driving Johannes, though there are hints throughout as he reveals his anger at death itself, calling it a thief. Johannes is a very angry, jealous man.  Though Horst helps Johannes throughout with his mission to capture 100 souls, Johannes cannot let go of his jealousy of his brother.  It seems growing up, Horst was favoured by his parents and community, leaving Johannes always striving for attention and love.  The sibling rivalry clearly had an affect on Johannes and warped his personality to a strong degree.  Even though Johannes was responsible for Horst becoming a vampire, he still felt entitled to his brother's help. 

 
For me, Johannes Cabal the Necromancer started to drag near the ending.  By that time, the clever turns of phrase and the odd situations had begun to lose their shine.  The first time Johannes went to hell, I was amused by the idea of the gate being guarded by the overly bureaucratic Arthur Trubshaw, whose job it is to make the deceased fill out copious forms before entry. Arthur, we are told, lived a life of "licentious proceduralism". By the time we meet Arthur for a second time however, I was pretty much done with the joke. 
 
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer included ableism as part of its humour. Sure, the idea of a man who kills people because he is socially invisible did make me laugh however it was coupled with the equation of mass murder and mental illness.  Yes, these murders were absurd and often times fun but there was no need to juxtapose mental illness and violence. 
 
 
 
 
Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/08/johannes-cabal-necromancer-johannes.html
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text 2017-08-01 22:30
July 2017 Round Up!
Bone White - Ronald Malfi
A Game of Ghosts: A Charlie Parker Thriller - John Connolly
The Necromancer's House - Christopher Buehlman
Halloween Carnival Volume 1 - Lisa Morton,Kevin Lucia,John Little,Brian James Freeman,Robert R. McCammon
Gary Gianni's Monstermen and Other Scary Stories - Gary Gianni,Gary Gianni
The Twilight Pariah - Jeffrey Ford
For Those Who Dream Monsters - Anna Taborska,Steve Upham,Charles Black,Reggie Oliver,Reggie Oliver
Behind Her Eyes: A Novel - Sarah Pinborough
Zomcats! - Amanda Horan,Graeme Parker,Jack Strange
Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman

In July I read 19 books!

 

Graphic Novels:

 

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three, House of Cards

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three, The Prisoner

American Vampire, Volume 6

Gary Gianni's Monstermen and Other Scary Stories

 

Total: 4

 

Audio Books:

 

 

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough 

Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King

The Necromancer's House by Christopher Buehlman

Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus by Matt Taibbi

Nevertheless: A Memoir by Alec Baldwin

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman 

 

Total: 6

 

ARCS:

 

Dark Screams: Volume Seven edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar

Optical Delusion by Hunter Shea

Halloween Carnival Volume 1 by various authors

A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly

Spinal Tap: The Big Black Book by Wallace Fairfax

Bone White by Ronald Malfi

The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford

 

Total: 7

 

Random Books 

 

Zomcats! by Jack Strange

For Those Who Dream Monsters by Anna Taborska 

 

Total: 2

 

 

READING CHALLENGES

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge: 

(Horror Aficionados Group on Goodreads)

Goal: Read 40 books I already own in 2017

 

January Count: 1

February Count: 2 

March and April Count: 0

May: 2 (Boo! and The Well)

June & July: 0

Running Count: 5

 

Graphic Novel Challenge:

(Paced Reading Group on GR)

Goal: Read 25 Graphic novels in 2017 

 

January count: 5

February count: 2

March count: 5

April count: 5

May count: 3

June count: 4

July count: 4

 

Running Count: 28 CHALLENGE MET! WHOOHOO! 

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text 2017-07-25 21:11
Which Fantasy to Pick?
The Shadow Of What Was Lost - James Islington
The Way of Shadows - Brent Weeks
Gardens of the Moon - Steven Erikson
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer - Jonathan L. Howard
The Magicians - Lev Grossman
The White Rabbit Chronicles: Alice in ZombielandThrough the Zombie GlassThe Queen of Zombie Hearts - Gena Showalter
The Wheel of Time: Boxed Set #1 - Robert Jordan
The Malazan Empire - Steven Erikson
The Night Watch Collection: Books 1-3 of the Night Watch Series (Night Watch, Day Watch, and Twilight Watch) - Sergei Lukyanenko
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

I want to read a great fantasy series. I like it when there are lots of mythical characters/creatures. I like it where the main characters are not normal human type. I do like Tolkien, but I want something a bit grittier. I uses to read a lot of fantasy book, but lately have found myself zipping through para romance. I have recently not been enjoying them as I uses to though. 

 

I have most of those above in complete, or near complete series. I also have King's Dark Tower books, most of Brooks' Shanara books, a lot of Robin Hobb, and Sanderson. Most of what I have I have not read past the first book and do not remember much of what they we're about.

 

 

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I don't mind if it is something I don't have, I will get it. 

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review 2017-07-17 16:30
The Necromancer's House by Christopher Buehlman, narrated by Todd Haberkorn
The Necromancer's House - Christopher Buehlman,Todd Haberkorn

 

This book is totally INSANE!!

 

I thought Between Two Fires was crazy, but The Necromancer's House has that one beat. By a mile!

 

Magic is inherent but also can be taught. There are all kinds of spells that may be weaved. There are all kinds of creatures of myth and folklore. There's a meteor! There's a crazy-ass dog... creation. There is the dead founder of AA having conversations through the television. There's a house, filled with many booby traps and spells, and what dark fiction reader doesn't love that? There's also much, much more.

 

I can't even begin to explain this book, nor would I want to try. But what I can say is that I love and respect an imagination that can come up with something this maniacal and satisfying! It was entertaining, but also had parts where the pain was visceral. The characters were well drawn even if many of them were just downright nasty. I have to admit that a few of the characters that I disliked at first became my favorites by the end. I love when that happens.

 

I started with Those Across the River , then read Between Two Fires, and now this one. I'm not sure which of Christopher Buehlman's books I'll read next, but I am definitely going to be reading all of them!

 

I highly recommend this one to lovers of dark fiction, with some magic and myths woven into the narrative fabric. I guarantee you haven't read anything like it! 

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