The Fearing, Book One: Fire & Rain by John F.D. Taff
Grey Matter Press (July 9, 2019)
Reviewed by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann
I think it’s a fact that human beings are obsessed with stories about our own cataclysmic demise. There’s something about this potential threat to the end of the world as we know it that inspires writers to pen epic sagas exploring humanity under extreme duress. Off the top of my head, I have enjoyed apocalyptic books like The Stand by Stephen King, Swan Song by Robert McCammon, and The Passage by Justin Cronin.
One thing all those books have in common is their size. They are books of great girth. If I’m honest, they all get off to a slow start as well. The Fearing: Fire & Rain, by John F. D. Taff, is also an apocalyptic tale, but after recently finishing it, I’m excited to report that this one stands alone.
First of all, this is Book One; the rest of the story is being meted out in three more books through Grey Matter Press. Because of this strategic format, Fire & Rain is a slick size and just under 100 pages of reading. Translation: I devoured it and now I’m hungry—no, starving—for more.
Taff does not waste time on a slow moving preamble. He jumps right in with what he does best: establishing characters the reader cares about. I love this so much about Taff’s work. It is exactly why they call this man the King of Pain.
Without characters for the reader to invest in, there is no threat. There’s no imminent danger. The subject material could be the most frightening scenario a writer can imagine, but if there is nobody to unleash it on, why would a reader feel scared? Or feel anything at all?
I’m an emotional reader. I’m going into every book with the hope to fall in love and then be destroyed over what’s going to happen to my people. My fictional friends.
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*.
He does this effortlessly. This is why I said that in 100 pages of The Fearing, I am already more invested than I ever was with The Stand or Swan Song. Those books took their time—Taff jumps right in and grabs you. Draws you in. By the time you finish Fire & Rain, you’re already committed to this. You need to know what’s going to happen. All the stakes are raised. All your feelings are sewn into the destinies of these characters and already, you’re hoping for these people to make it.
I need Book Two like yesterday. It’s this reader’s recommendation that you get involved in The Fearing with everyone else because this thing is going to be a ride and the King of Pain is going to kill us!