Sunday, 18 September 2011

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Johannes Cabal 3: The Fear Institute - Jonathan L Howard

Release Date: 01/09/11


Johannes Cabal and his rather inexact powers of necromancy are back once more. This time, his talents are purchased by The Fear Institute as they hunt for the Phobic Animus - the embodiment of fear. The three Institute members, led by Cabal and his Silver Key, enter the Dreamlands and find themselves pursued by walking trees plagued with giant ticks, stone men that patrol the ruins of their castles, cats that feed on human flesh and phobias which torment and devastate. The intrepid explorers are killed off one by one as they traipse through this obfuscating and frustrating world, where history itself appears to alter. Cabal, annoyed that the quest is becoming increasingly heroic, finds himself alone with the Institute's only remaining survivor, and after a shockingly violent experiment, begins to suspect that not everything is quite as it seems...


To be honest with you since Jonathan burst onto the scene a few years back with the original Johannes Cabal novel, I’ve had these as a bit of a guilty pleasure. They’re witty, they have great plot lines and the characterisation is immense fun, add to this an antihero with a taste for the pithy one liners and it’s a series that for me is cult following.

What makes this series work is the intricate story lines that the author throws against the lead character, they’re dark, they appeal to his curiosity and whilst the proverbial cat is always in dire straits our hero finds way to get out of the trouble. It’s intriguing, it has great prose and when you add a unique writerly voice to the overall arc it is something that there really isn’t anything else similar out there. Finally add a whole host of twisted fun with a character who twisted the devil’s tail and lived to tell the tail and you know that it is something you really have to read.

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