This is book #3 (which of course means it’s the fifth book in the series, because there’s a #.5 and a #.75 before #1) and I’ve never read any of the other books. Certainly I’ve missed out on some character history and character-building, having not read the other books, but generally I didn’t feel I was missing out on too much.
Johannes Cabal is a necromancer. He is quite intent on furthering his studies and learning everything possible to increase his necromancer abilities. When he is approached by members of The Fear Institute (where they are trying to find the very embodiment of fear) and asked if he would be interested in visiting Dreamland (in the flesh and not just as a dream), he is eager to accept.
There, Cabal and three members of the institute find themselves hunted by any number of strange beasts (such as walking trees and men made of stone). Slowly, methodically, members of the group are killed off until it is only Cabal and one member of the Institute left. But it’s Dreamland … can Cabal trust anything he sees?
I found this book to be quite delightful. There’s a dry sense of humor here that appeals to me, and which, frankly, I wasn’t expecting. The supernatural element was strong (no surprise) and I enjoyed the constant nods to H.P. Lovecraft. I was enjoying the book all along, but when I got to “The Young Person’s Guide to Cthulhu and His Friends: No. 5 An ABC” – a Lovecraft alphabet!
“…C is for Cthulhu, the Father of Screams,
D is for Deep Ones, who watch while he dreams….”
Cabal as a character is a bit of an enigma. Smart, dark, and funny. He’s somehow not at all what I expected when I started the book, and at the same time, he’s exactly like what I expected.
The humor here is strong enough that I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be a parody of Lovecraft or not. But then it would get very dark – much too dark to be considered parody.
I think it really helps to have an understanding or appreciation for H.P Lovecraft (I started reading Lovecraft in the mid-1970’s) even if you don’t need to have read any previous Johannes Cabal books.
Looking for a good book? The Fear Institute by Jonathan L. Howard, is a dark, then humorous, then darker supernatural story that promises to hold your attention.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
The Fear Institute
author: Jonathan L. Howard
series: Johannes Cabal #3
publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
hardcover, 334 pages