The Fearing: Book One - Fire & Rain by John F.D. Taff

The Fearing_John FD Taff.jpg

Publisher: Grey Matter Press | Release Date: July 9, 2019 | Pages: 110

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In May, I was fortunate enough to hear John F.D. Taff read the opening chapter from book one of his serialized novel, The Fearing, at StokerCon 2019. It clearly establishes the character of Adam Sigel and his plethora of fears, and hinges on a remarkable twist that sets the trajectory for what follows. As Taff read the final words of chapter one, you could feel the momentous nature of the work itself and he left those of us in the audience completely wowed.

Reading it myself at home some weeks later, even knowing the reveal, it lost none of its impact. It’s still a sucker punch of a reveal — and it’s only the beginning of the book, damnit!

As much as the book’s opener works to set the stage, it also doesn’t adequately prepare you for what, exactly, The Fearing is or the sheer range of scope this story is being told through. As this is but the opening of a much larger work, Fire & Rain raises a whole lot of questions, ones that I want answers to immediately. By the half-way mark, I was already cursing the wait for Book Two, and wishing I could binge read the whole damn series, but such is the nature of good serialized fiction. And The Fearing is very, very good indeed. It leaves you aggressively wanting and demanding more, itching for your next fix.

At the core of it is a wonderfully imaginative premise, but one that also asks some scary questions of the reader. What are your largest, most secret fears? And what would you do if they started coming true? What if, on top of all that, you found yourself trapped in the nightmares of your friends and neighbors most frightening, awful, apocalyptic worries? Such is the issue Taff sets about exploring in this opening volume, and it looks like The Fearing is going to be a wonderfully epic, high-concept horror disaster story. It’s such a wonderfully delicious premise, and I’m eager to see where Taff is going to take all this as his story unwinds over the course of four novellas.

Like Stephen King’s The Green Mile, Taff and Grey Matter Press have opted to break up the story into a handful of character-driven narratives that will see release from July to November 2019. The schedule looks like this:

Book One: Fire & Rain — July 9

Book Two: Water & Wind — Aug 20

Book Three: Air & Dust — Oct 1

Book Four: Earth & Ember — Nov 11

Half the fun with The Fearing, of course, is in the painful anticipation! Hell, I’m already dreading September’s bye month...

The Fearing has been a long time coming (Taff, I believe, has been writing it on and off for five years) and the author, Grey Matter, and their readership have been doing a marvelous job of kicking the hype machine into full gear over the last several months. Thankfully, this is one of those rare instances where the final product (or, at least, part one of the final product) fully lives up to, and exceeds, the hype. And now, thanks entirely to Taff, I’ve developed a new phobia and now find myself slightly afraid the world actually will end before I get to finish the story.