Book Review – Johannes Cabal and the Fear Institute by Jonathon L Howard.

This book filled one of my weaker “I need to buy a book RIGHT NOW” moments over the Christmas holidays while I was moving house (I know, I know, I’m an idiot) and everything was packed. I read a chapter and thought it was pretentious and overdone. Then I read another chapter and got all hooked and was constantly thinking about what Cabal was going to do next and then I’d read in bed until 2am and never once did I actually manage to predict what would happen (twist ending? oh yes!) and then about 3 chapters from the end it got all pretentious and overdone again and lost the interestingness.

Johannes Cabal is a necromancer. I’ve never read any of the past books in the series, but coming in at book three doesn’t really matter until you get to the end and there’s this terrible cliffhanger ending which makes you mutter for days cursing authors and publishers and schedules and things. Anyway, he is a necromancer and he has a dry wit and a superior intellect and a chaos god who likes to play with him. His services are secured by a society (one with an impractical handshake) whom require him to travel to the Dreamlands and kill the phobic animus – the source of all fear in this world.

So into the Dreamlands goes Cabal, with Mr Bose, Mr Shadrach and Mr Corde of the Fear Institute tagging somewhat reluctantly along with him. But Cabal disagrees with the fundamental structures (or lack of them) of the Dreamlands and it turns out the Dreamlands disagree with Cabal. And there’s a strange and rather helpful ghoul who keeps following them around (ok, I admit, THAT twist I did get quite early on). And in the end, it’s not clear if Cabal has accomplished his task, someone else’s task or any task at all.

The language is clever (overly so – if I have to read with a thesaurus next to me then the author is just showing off) and the pace quick moving and there are cats. Sometimes you might not catch something and go back a few pages, re-read it and still not catch it or be sure there was anything to catch in the first place, but don’t be alarmed – I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be like that. And you’ll want to dress in all black once you finish reading it – if you don’t already – and encourage pixies with teeth to live at the bottom of your garden.

Can’t wait for the next one. I’m going to hate the first two chapters, but it’s worth it.

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