cover image Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute

Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute

Jonathan L. Howard. Thomas Dunne, $24.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-03752-7

Having determined that the greatest impediment to human progress is fear, Messrs. Bose, Corde, and Shadrach of the Fear Institute seek the assistance of Johannes Cabal (first seen in Johannes Cabal the Necromancer and Johannes Cabal the Detective) in hunting down and eliminating the very spirit of fear, the Phobic Animus itself. They will seek it in the Dreamlands first written of by H.P. Lovecraft, where they must confront ghouls, terrifying wooden automata, devious slavers, and hungry cats, and Cabal’s own arrogance will be sorely tested by the god Nyarlathotep. Howard’s affectionate, witty homage to Lovecraft’s dream stories, complete with early-20th-century setting and language, is an enjoyably macabre comic adventure, and his antihero Cabal is, for all his overweening self-confidence, an engaging protagonist whose heart is not quite as hard as he would like to pretend. Howard capably handles the confusing and mutable world of the Dreamlands and several intriguing twists in the plot, and the concluding cliffhanger makes it plain that he is far from finished with his sardonic wizard. (Oct.)