The House of Gears (A Johannes Cabal short)

I have been reading the book Johannes Cabal the Detective and I stumbled upon a recent short story available for free written by the author and continuing the adventures of Johannes. It is available at the Fantasy Magazine website which I had not known before. The magazine appears to provide a wealth of fantasy (read: not just swords & shields) literature, many for free and yet many in audio format. I am not sold on audio format myself but I can certainly see advantages for those who commute to work and would like a literary distraction to ones plodding asphalt meanderings to employment in the wee hours of dawn.

Currently I reside at a third through the novel but I took a short side trek to listen to the tale. Herein lies a short review.

The story is a tightly wound tale of Johannes unwavering mental capacity against a rather strange, and unique, protagonist. The writing is well crafted and the tale an interesting mix of steampunk and Sherlockian mystery. I have a few issues with the author’s writing, most notably his use of archaic terms and words that require even someone of some intelligence to question the breadth of his vocabulary. This practice does add to the feel and atmospherics of the tale, but at time it was a bit contrived and made the passages difficult to get through. Of course, I might be biased as I prefer reading to be something easy and not necessarily a challenge.

The tale told, however, is entertaining and provides a quick introduction to the writing and tales of Johannes Cabal. I enjoyed it enough that I will certainly be continuing my reading of the the Detective.

Read the short story (or listen to it!) all for FREE!

6 thoughts on “The House of Gears (A Johannes Cabal short)

    1. It is a result of my youth. My mother was a single teacher when I was growing up and while we never starved (that I recall), we never were what I would call well off. Many a day was spent wandering the halls of the Peoria Public Library, exploring the fantastical and amazing words on the page. I vividly remember the day I discovered the media room in the back up on the second floor. Vinyl(!) records, cassettes, large art books, paintings, maps…good lord it was amazing. I think I was around ten then and I was probably the youngest person ever in that room.
      Anyway, for a kid with not much to his name, the amazing tales I could read for free about amazing places, real and imaginary, the people and the places…there was just nothing better.

    1. I tried reading the first ones about two years ago and could not get into it, ended up stopping after about 100 pages in. I just finished the second one this evening (will be writing a review later this week). It was a much tighter and easier read than the first. I will say that the author insists on an almost archiac and odd word writing style. I frankly had to look up numerous words that I could not glean the exact meaning from (luckily the kindle app has an easy definition function). The book really had a old fashioned sort of style mishmashed with more modern technique. It was a good read, though a little slow to go through. I consider it more of a challenge than my usual fare for reading enjoyment.

  1. I listened to the audio version last night. I have the inkling that I might have enjoyed it more had I merely read it instead of listening to it.
    House of Gears was odd to me for a number of reasons, but still was entertaining on the whole. The characterization of Cabal is very strong, but I had no reason to like him or cheer him on in his endeavors. He is repeatedly touted as a necromancer, but nothing in the tale actually confirms him as one. You could have substituted any number of unsavory, mysterious professions and still had the same cold, logical, haughty gentleman that is Cabal. The exploration of the villain’s device was thoroughly over embellished, but still did not leave me with the credulity to buy into the final reveal.
    The author’s style and density of prose was actually what kept me in the story. The thorough characterization of Cabal came primarily from his role as narrator, albeit a strongly biased one. The dry wit playing out in lavish simile and hyperbole was perhaps the most endearing element of Cabal.
    Though not a glowing review, I did enjoy my time listening to this misadventure of Johannes Cabal. It is probably just my preference, but I hope to see some of his capability as a necromancer, not merely a shrewd logistician, when we next embark on a misadventure.

    1. I will agree with you entirely. The story (and the second book) are challenging and not light fare to read. The language is thick and embellished with all manner of archaic and out of use terminology. For me Cabal a sort of love to hate Sherlockian character. In the novel he is constantly thinking evil deeds to do but most often selecting the least violent means of resolving the situation. Most often he simple selects a path that results in the best chance for his own rear to be saved. Lucky for us this usually means that it is for the good of all in involved. I can think of precisely two circumstances when his necromantic ways come into play in the second novel. His wit and clear thought is usually his most powerful and feared asset.
      In the epilogue of the second book he literally does a good deed only to prevent an overpowering evil from destroying the world all the while thinking evil thoughts. He literally goes all good on the evil guys….does this make him good?

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