Review: The Fearing Book Two: Water & Wind by John F.D. Taff

Book cover for The Fearing Book Two: Water and WindThe Fearing, Book Two: Water & Wind by John F.D. Taff
Grey Matter Press (August 20, 2019)

130 pages; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Sadie Hartmann

The Fearing is an epic, apocalyptic horror story by “King of Pain” John F. D. Taff,  told over the course of multiple, individual book installments published by Grey Matter Press. Book One is titled Fire & Rain, which I reviewed for Cemetery Dance in June. Here’s a quote from the review:

And this is where Taff is a damn genius. He proves time and time again that in just a few pages, in just one scene, he can manipulate the feelings of his readers and make us care about these people on the page like THAT *snaps fingers*.

It’s this reader’s opinion that well-developed characters are essential to good horror, resulting in an emotional engagement with the story. I can’t be scared or moved to feel anything if I’m indifferent about the people going through even the most well-written scenes of terror. I just want to care. I go into every book wanting to have my emotions manipulated by the author. It’s the great exchange.

Book Two: Water & Wind begins by introducing a new character. By the end of chapter one, Taff already leads me into a relationship with Reverend Mark Hubert. The narrative quickly transitions away from Mark, waiting out a horrific storm in some storage room of his church to pick up where we left off with characters from Book One— but I’m already eager to get back to Mark. What will happen to him?

We get to revisit our trio of teenagers, Carli, Kyle and Sarah ,as well as the older people on the bus: Rich, Wanda, Marcia, Glen and Charles. I’m literally remembering these people’s names off the top of my head while I write this review because they’re so real to me. I love these people.

In this second, slim installment, we learn some theories about the storm and what the characters are experiencing, and we spend time with our antagonists, Adam and Jelnik. But this isn’t just fluff or filler—Taff is definitely gunning for our hearts as he exposes his characters to us through meaningful dialog, internal struggles and physical/mental anguish. By the end of Book Two, I’m already experiencing a reader’s hangover—saddened by my separation from my fictional friends while we wait for the Book Three. This is the story of the century. 

And while some might be hesitant to jump in—maybe you’re thinking you’ll wait until all of the books are out to go on this journey—might I suggest to you that this is an experience quite unlike reading a story all the way through at your convenience; you get to be in control of how far you’ll go. Enjoying The Fearing one installment at a time is throwing yourself at the mercy of the “King of Pain” and I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way. 

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