The Fearing, Book Four: Earth & Ember by John F.D. Taff
Grey Matter Press (November 2019)
170 pages: $9.99 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann
I like horror that fires on all cylinders, as I’ve said countless times in interviews. I want my horror to unnerve and disturb me, yes. But I also want it to make me feel love and sadness and regret and anger, too. And I want my characters to have some shot at redemption at the end, Some glimmer of hope, even if it’s obscured. —John F. D. Taff/Earth & Ember
Book four of John Taff’s epic apocalyptic series The Fearing is, sadly, the conclusion to one of the most interactive reading experiences I’ve had since Stephen King’s The Dark Tower.
If you were unaware, this series was released in separate volumes a few months apart by Grey Matter Press. In my opinion, this was a highly effective marketing tool. The anticipation between books would build and build, almost to a breaking point. As soon as fans saw reviewers with advanced reading copies of the next book, the dialog was quick to turn into ravenous jealousy and longing. After writing a review and turning it into Cemetery Dance (you can find reviews for all three books here), I enjoyed reading the reviews of others who were on The Fearing journey with me. We fell in love with the same characters and we were scandalized by the same plot twists and we dared to hope that our favorite people would survive the pen of the “King of Pain.”
Speaking of that nickname, I totally understand it. John F. D. Taff’s wheelhouse isn’t horror in the sense that he’s just trying to scare you. John’s after anything that causes his readers to feel discomfort. Anxiety, loathing, vulnerability, fragile hope—it’s all the same to him as long as he’s got you feeling your feelings.
In Earth & Ember, we get a full revelation of The Fearing. Against the backdrop of all Hell breaking loose, our protagonists make some important discoveries—one protagonist in particular makes some alarming confessions which lead to some interesting character arcs and story developments. Of course, none of this comes as a surprise since it is the last book, but it does have the potential to spoil major plot details so of course, you’re just going to have to take my word for it,
This series is one of my favorite things about 2019. It was incredibly fun to look forward to the next installment. Taff took the apocalyptic horror genre and he put his unique fingerprints all over it, meaning: This will break your heart as much as it will terrify you. There’s something here for everyone. I recommend it to those inside the horror-loving genre as well as those who dabble in it; and for those who have never ventured into it, this could be your ticket into the darkness. We wander over here because it makes salvation, love and light all the more precious to us.