I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard
Series: Johannes Cabal #4
Published: 2014 by Thomas Dunne
Genres: Fantasy, Humor
Source: the publisher
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The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard is the fourth book in the Johannes Cabal series. Even though it’s not the first in the series, it can function relatively well as a standalone. I haven’t read the earlier books, but was able to jump into this one quite easily.
Johannes Cabal is a necromancer. He’s got a reputation for being abrasive and dangerous, but deep down, he does have a conscience, even if it pains him to admit it. His brother Horst is a vampire, and is supposed to be dead. When Horst turns up (alive, or rather, undead) in Johannes’ living room, he’s got some explaining to do. You see, he was raised from the dead as part of a conspiracy in which the creatures of the night plan to take over the world. Unfortunately for them, they misjudged Horst’s character. Johannes and Horst team up with the aid of some traveling aviatrices to take on the forces of evil.
One of the things I loved in The Brothers Cabal is that Jonathan L. Howard consistently breaks the fourth wall, revealing what characters don’t know and providing snarky footnotes about why readers should read the earlier books if they haven’t already. It amused me tremendously.
Johannes reminds me of Sherlock Holmes because he bases his decisions on logic and is miles ahead of everybody else when figuring out what the hell is going on. Horst is a womanizer and can be a bit thick, but he’s also a truly good person who has a hard time reconciling with the fact that he’s a vampire. I was so glad that he was able to have that moral conundrum in a non-emo way; he wasn’t at all like Anne Rice’s vampires, but instead had an inner dialogue between his vampire nature, which would suggest killing people, and his more rational self. It reminded me of the cartoons where a character has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, each trying to win out and convince the protagonist that he’s right.
I had a hard time figuring out the setting, as it seemed like an amalgamation of modern, early 1900s, and steampunk elements. I suspect that if I had read the earlier three books that I’d feel a bit more grounded.
The Brothers Cabal was a pleasure to read. It struck the perfect balance between fantasy and comedy, and included plenty of gratuitous explosions. Recommended for fans of pulpy fiction, the paranormal, and steampunk.
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