October 30, 2014

Review: The Brothers Cabal (and giveaway)

The Fear Institute Book four of the Johannes Cabal series
By Jonathon L. Howard
Available now from Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan)
Review copy
Read my review of The Fear Institute

THE FEAR INSTITUTE ended with the surprising revelation that Horst Cabal was once again alive.  (In a sense, given that he is once again risen as a vampire, and technically he's just undead again.)  For the first two thirds of THE BROTHERS CABAL, the focus is on Horst's resurrection and his adventures before reuniting with Johannes.

While I missed Johannes' dry impatience, I did relish getting the chance to see this world through a different point of view.  Horst is more social and affable, if inhuman in his own way.  He certainly makes friends and allies easier, including monster hunters and a barnstormer circus.  Once more Leonie Barrow doesn't make an appearance, but a wide range of female characters are introduced.  It's an aspect I appreciated.

The plot starts simply, with a supernatural society that wants to take over the world.  There is a long chase, and a big battle, but it's just big set pieces illuminating that Johannes Cabal's enemies are starting to work together for a bit of revenge.  I liked that there turned out to be a personal motive behind everything and that the bad guys were much smarter than they first appeared.

Some of the action was a bit hard to follow.  There are a lot of people with different powers on the scene, which means sometimes there are giant, fierce bugs with little explanation of how that happened.  The humor, however, is more than intact.  I can turn to almost any page and find a gem that made me laugh.  Let me try it right now.

"Does my little brother have a crush?"
Cabal started to deny it, but then instead blushed a little, and a small, perhaps even shy smile appeared on his own face.  He leaned towards Horst and said in a lowered voice, "She told me where to find the fifth volume of Darian's Ocusculus." - ARC, pg. 58-9

The humor is best whenever Horst and Johannes banter with each other, but really, many of Jonathon L. Howard's characters give good banter.  Thanks to the multitude of new characters and POV change, THE BROTHERS CABAL is fairly welcoming to new comers.  The climax slightly less so, although the old connections between the characters are explained.

This is one of my favorite series, and I dread the wait for the next book. 
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