My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Going into the third book of a series is always nice; generally you know exactly what to expect. Thankfully Jonathan L. Howard delivers the same sarcastic pompous character in Johannes Cabal, strange fantastical happenings, long monologues about 'why are we here', and words to look up in the dictionary because they likely haven't been used in hundreds of years (thank goodness for smartphones and dictionaries being electronic these days or this would really annoy me). While overall this is exactly what I expected it didn't blow me away. It also differed from the past books in that it appears a larger story is being set-up and a few plot points are changed.
There are two distinct differences to this Cabal book from the past:
- There is a lot of H. P. Lovecraft lore in The Fear Institute. Howard 'borrows' heavily from Lovecraft (including using Lovecraft's constructs, gods, demons, etc.) and integrates it into the Dreamworld that is an alternate dimension Cabal enters.
- There's a lot of death (not new) but this time you might almost care about some of those characters dying. For the first time we have real, tangible supporting characters that actually, almost, make you like them.
As per usual you love to hate Cabal. As the reader I know he's a loathsome bastard and yet I still laugh and adore his sarcastic, laissez-faire attitude. This is a slow read, as all of the Cabal books have been. Because of the density of the language (and need to occasionally look a word up) this is not a book that can be skimmed, speed read, and it doesn't flow quickly. However, it has a beautiful literary cadence that I just adore and I can't wait to move onto books 4 & 5 to see what further craziness Cabal gets into.
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