October 7, 2013

Review: Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute

The Fear Institute Book Three in the Johannes Cabal series
By Jonathan L. Howard
Available now from Thomas Dunne (Macmillan)
Review copy

I was first introduced to the Johannes Cabal series through a book swap a couple of years.  I wanted something genre, funny, with interesting female characters.  Johannes Cabal was a name that my swapper threw out, although she eventually chose to send me another couple of books.  But I enjoyed the ones she sent me so much that I kept the name in the back of my head, right up until I was able to pick up copies at the secondhand bookstore.  Then, I was dismayed to find out that there was a third book out in the UK, but not yet available in the US.

Finally, JOHANNES CABAL: THE FEAR INSTITUTE has made it to our* shores.

*I'm using our loosely, since my analytics make it clear that people from all over the world read this blog.

The first reason I love this series is the humor.  It's very dry, very morbid, very sarcastic.  The whole narrative style is very arch, sort of faux old timey, but quite sly.  I didn't read JOHANNES CABAL: THE FEAR INSTITUTE as quickly as I usually do because the words kept playing in my head.

The second reason I love this series is Johannes Cabal himself.  He's a necromancer who recently regained his soul and is still getting a grip on such concepts as conscience and empathy.  He's quite the villainous protagonist.  The third reason I love this series, Leonie Barrow, sadly doesn't appear in JOHANNES CABAL: THE FEAR INSTITUTE.  I can only hope she returns to be Cabal's moral foe in the fourth book.

In JOHANNES CABAL: THE FEAR INSTITUTE, three men belonging to a society known as The Fear Institute hire Cabal to guide them through the Dreamlands.  Their goal is to kill the spirit of fear, which is only corporeal in that land of poets and opium addicts.  The first book took on Goethe, the second Christie, and this one Lovecraft.  Eldritch horror is a good fit for a story about a necromancer.  Plus, the dream logic setting kept Cabal on his toes, and it's nice to see him not fully in control.  The climax was a tad over long, but did tie everything together neatly.

JOHANNES CABAL: THE FEAR INSTITUTE was worth the wait.  Luckily, book four comes out late 2014.  We'll only have to wait a year this time.  (Meanwhile, the UK is having to wait for years between books!  Ha!)  Give this series a try if you're looking for something genre, funny, with a real twisted bent.


  1. This sounds right up my alley! Never heard of it but will put it on my to-read list. Thanks for the rec~

    1. Yeah, it's a fairly obscure series. BUT SO GOOD.

  2. I think I have to forward this to my brother-in-law!

  3. I've never heard of these! I think I'd really like them though.

    1. I'm not surprised - they aren't well known. But I highly recommend them if they sound good to you! I know you enjoy British stuff, and they are very British indeed.


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