Late on this, but you know #Nanowrimo. Anyway, we finally have the climatic finale of John F.D. Taff’s epic serial novel, THE FEARING, with Part four: EARTH & EMBER. And this book, folks, is a lot. The longest of the installments and of course the one that holds (almost) all our answers is here. With such an ambitious project, it is hard to pin down what Taff was building at first, but finally coming to EARTH & EMBER, it all comes together.
We pick up with the cultish leader Tim Jacoby, who swiftly moves in and takes control away from Rev. Mark and his friends. He rules with an iron fist and makes it known that only he gets to say who lives and dies. When the encroaching darkness forces them to move camps, all seems to be lost. And just as it seems everything is over for humanity, Adam, and Jelnik being to parse what their duty is or what their very existence is for. The end is truly near.
This pervading sense of anxiety fills the pages of the last installment of THE FEARING. Taff weaves a definite sense of urgency and danger into every single page. Fear is not the only thing that we need to be on the watch for, but for tyrants like Jacoby at these end of days, he warns the reader. And in some ways, these very tyrants are also motivated by fear themselves, if not their own frailty. It is in these quick, but deep depictions of human failings and triumphs that I find Taff shining in his prose. He is able to peel back the facade for just a little bit and shows us how good humanity can be, even despite the nightmares that often haunt us.
This last installment does bring all the threads of the previous three together and weaves them together, quite well. I may have to go back and read the previous installments just to see how many clues are there for us to find. I’m expecting to find a lot.
I did struggle with some of Taff’s conclusions and despite going through four novellas, the ending did not ring quite as well as it could have, which may have been because of how frontloaded this story was with the struggle with Jacoby. There are some other things I could mention, but I don’t want to wade too far out into spoiler territory.
Either way, I would read more from Taff, since he brought home such a large, but heartfelt project. He should absolutely be recognized for choosing to do such a unique format as well.
If you’ve stuck with THE FEARING through it all, then reading this is a must.