Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Brothers Cabal, by Jonathan L. Howard

Today I'm looking at the fourth book in the Johannes Cabal series, The Brothers Cabal. As I've mentioned in my previous reviews, I haven't been quite sure what to make of these books because on the one hand they're very witty and entertaining, on the other hand Johannes is kind of a jerk. I think that's really a good sign that Howard is an excellent writer because I legitimately enjoy his books and keep coming back for more. Which tells me he's doing something right.

This book, as you may have guessed from the title, deals with Johannes and his older brother Horst, last seen in the first novel. Much to his frustration, Horst is still a vampire, but an incredibly kind and decent person in spite of his condition. And personally I think that's what makes this book in particular so interesting because Horst is a much, much better person than Johannes. Not that being better than Johannes is a terribly high bar to cross, but considering Horst needs to feed on human blood it's a real accomplishment considering how moral a person he is.

Horst really is the main character for the first part of the book because it's mostly Horst recounting to Johannes his adventures after his resurrection but before his being reunited with Johannes. So while Johannes was off investigating the Dreamlands, Horst had been resurrected and recruited by a group known as the Ministerium that seeks to unite armies of werewolves, vampires, zombies, and eldritch horrors to establish an independent state in Eastern Europe where vampires, werewolves, and necromancers can live free of persecution. Unfortunately for the Ministerium, Horst just isn't the sort of vampire interested in raising an army of vampires to help conquer his own petty kingdom.

So in a way it's a refreshing change to get to learn more about Horst, who we didn't know terribly much about in the first book, who seems to be somebody I'd actually enjoy meeting. Hands down, Horst Cabal is my favorite vampire. And Horst is dealing as well with the desire to become the monster he is inside and give in to the urges to kill and drink his fill. It's interesting to see him struggle with that, something that Johannes probably wouldn't have lost terribly much sleep over himself.

Overall, I'm finding myself really enjoying these books. There's a good blend of serious action and clever humor that makes these books both memorable and enjoyable. I think I can say, four books into the series, that I can strongly recommend them.

- Kalpar

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