The Fading by Linda Taimre

The Fading by Linda Taimre is a dark dystopian novella set in a future Brisbane where war and industry have taken their tolls on the Earth and something even more insidious is threatening the survival of the human race.

The planet is decimated. The air is poisonous and exposure to the elements is deadly. The population is segregated with the majority of people living in sealed homes, venturing outdoors only when necessary and in vehicles with powerful filters. To make a dire situation worse, a horrifying and painful contagion is wreaking havoc across the globe. Spreading like wildfire, anyone could be its next unfortunate victim. Except, that is, for the elite few who are lucky enough to live in the Protectorates. These are large enclosures with gardens, pools and most importantly, clean and safe air. These structures provide safety and freedom from pollution, disease and despair. But how long before the dangers of the outside world find their way inside?

A group of disparate women, all linked to the disease in some manner, are about to become key players in the fate of the human race. Katherine has contracted the disease and is entering its final, painful stages. Her wife Harriet and close friend Kiah are in a desperate race against time to discover a cure. Dr. Leena Kitt has made a shattering discovery about the virus but is quickly silenced before she can do anything about it. And Lady Long Trinh, the head of the Australian government is a ruthless leader with a terrible secret she will stop at nothing to protect. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, the paths of these women converge in an astounding climax that will leave you gasping for air.

The Characters

Katherine is a heart wrenching character who evokes so much sympathy. She is one of the unfortunate souls infected with the new virus and serves as our glimpse into the effects of the disease as it progresses. Her character poignantly captures the emotional and physical struggles someone with a terminal illness endures.

Harriet is Katherine’s wife and such a tragic character. Through her, I felt the anguish of watching a loved one slowly die from a horrible disease. The helplessness, fear, torment and anger are brilliantly portrayed by Taimre through Harriet. Her turmoil as she wrestles with her need for Katherine to fight on mixed with the grief of knowing the pain the fight causes her, made my heart break a thousand times.

There is also a wonderful supporting cast in this novella. Kiah is the loyal friend who supports Katherine and Harriet at any cost and also provides a little comic relief in a very intense read. Dr. Leena Kitt is the quirky scientist whose sole focus is finding a way to stop the spread of the disease but is forced into a moral quandary after her incredible discovery. And Lady Long Trinh, both sordid and noble, is forced to make many tough decisions trying to protect her people.

The Writing Style

As this is a novella, the length makes for a fast paced and exciting read. I was white knuckling my Kindle, my heart pounding in my chest, and I simply could not put this down until I finished reading it. Taimre manages to capture a boatload of tension and a vast range of intense emotions in a short amount of time. The story is written from multiple points of view which really helped in building the emotion and tension throughout the story.

The Pros

There are many things I enjoyed about this novella. The evolution of the virus is fascinating. The politics are intriguing. The characters are unforgettable. However, what I liked most about this novella is the tangibility of the emotions portrayed.

This story really hit me hard in more ways than one. Taimre paints a painful picture of a suffering only possible when true love and mortality intertwine. She beautifully depicts a love so profound that it alters the fate of humanity, but also depicts a pain so deep it will rent your heart in two.

The Cons

This is a mini spoiler regarding the ending but something for readers to be aware of, so please skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know. I don’t consider this a con per se, but this is a very intense novella that deals with disease, loss and moral struggles. It is quite heavy in some respects. If you are looking for a happily ever after romance, this book won’t give it to you. Having said that, it is an incredible tale that kept me entirely rapt throughout, so if you don’t need an HEA, I highly recommend reading this. 

The Conclusion

The Fading is a deeply emotional and dark exploration of a dystopian future that will leave you breathless. It is an exciting story about strong, tenacious women faced with unbearable decisions and dreadful situations fighting for survival. It is an unconventional story that throws happiness, misery, love, despair, life and death into a blender, serving up a roiling emotional puree you simply must consume.

Excerpt from The Fading by Linda Taimre

She shook her head so that her blonde curls fell in front of her face, skimming her big nose. Harriet was a goofy-looking girl, but she wasn’t stupid. From the moment that Katherine fell ill, Harriet had imagined at least twice a day that she had been taken, preparing herself against what she now knew was an inevitability. Sometimes the thought of it would make her retch out of misery. But when she started smelling the rot on Katherine’s breath, Harriet wasn’t shocked, or even scared. It felt like an easy fitting of the final piece. A strangely satisfactory chance to test out the limits of her tragic capacity. Of course, that wasn’t true. But everything helped to confuse Harriet’s brain enough that she could manage, and maybe, one day, recover. So Harriet surmised.

She attacked the dirty bowls and cutlery strewn across the bench, scrubbing vigorously to get the last scraps of their spaghetti. Katherine’s illness lingered in the room, in Harriet’s mind, in the air between them. The Fading, thought Harriet. It sounds so gentle. How stupidly euphemistic.

Katherine, too, always disliked this name, well before it became personal. The capital letters gave The Fading a biblical scale which she stubbornly refused to accept, in spite of the biblically horrific consequences and wild indiscrimination. She tried to conceal it when it struck her. Dying isn’t typically what you want to face, especially when it comes to this sort of dying.

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9780648415008
  • Publisher: Kaustik Press

Linda Taimre Online

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