Written by Michael Grant
Paranormal, Science Fiction
Expected publication September 1st 2014
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont
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I remembered my name, Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself. And then the games began.The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out...
Mara has just awoken in the middle of a field, caressed by a mysterious fog and all she can remember is her name. Stumbling into the lone and desolate church, she sees the figure of a boy, a coffin and with no other explanation of who she is and why she's there, other than to learn. He's known as The Messenger of Fear and this is Mara's fate.
The Messenger of Fear judges moral crimes, those not punishable by law and now Mara seemingly shares this curse, gaining insight to what drove a young teen to suicide, the couple who cared more for themselves than an injured animal and the boy who taunting another into killing. The game is simple, Mara is assaulted with images and their deepest fears, and then the fear is used against them and judgement is passed.
But when Mara begins to invest in a case of teen suicide and bullying, she begins to see how balance in the world needs to be restored. But how has she come to be his apprentice? What had he done to deserve such a punishment and why now is it her turn to carry on his legacy?
Messenger of Fear is fantastic. It walks the fine line between the criminal and moral dilemmas that humans face, and puts the reader in the seat as victim, accused and juror. Apart from her name, Mara is a complete unknown with no memory of not only how she come to be laying in the desolate field, but who she is. She's a clean slate, making it much easier for her to accept her role beside the Messenger of Fear without little question. It follows the misdeeds of three different situations, a bully related suicide, an injured animal and a man that taunted barely legal young man to kill. Messenger works for a high power, in which he calls upon when seeing inside the minds of each accused and using their greatest fears to test whether or not they should be persecuted.
The fears portrayed result in quite a few gruesome scenes, but the horror aspect was brilliant. But where the Messenger plays juror, a villain waits in the wings, Oriax. She has the ability to lure those to her dark side with a voice of silk. It's a battle of what seemingly seems evil and a lesser evil. Those who choose not to play the game for their freedom are plunged into her hands for a truly horrific fate. She's seductive and incredibly entertaining.
The Final Verdict
Being a series, I was left with more questions than answers and hope the next in the series delves more into the world in which Messenger and Oriax serve. Slow to start, but the pace picks up quickly and kept me enthralled as Mara's story unraveled. Looking forward to seeing what's in store for the rest of the series. Michael Grant is an incredible young adult author and this is a brilliant example as to why he's much loved.