Review: The Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Title: The Messenger of Fear

Author: Michael Grant

Publisher: Electric Monkey   

Status: Available in paperback  


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 . . .


I was sent this as one of my first ever books to review from Electric Monkey. Honestly, I read the synopsis and wasn't massively interested. I thought it was just going to be a YA thriller with elements of supernatural, and not much substance. But when I started reading it I realised that Grant actually uses his book as a platform to investigate intense themes such as bullying, suicide and hate crime. 
'Messenger' is the mysterious being acting as Judge, Jury and Executioner in a world where wrongdoers have to repent their sins in order to rebalance the karma. I think this was actually a really philosophical stance- it looked at the concept or rehabilitation and blame, if everyone who engages in 'bad' behaviour should be punished, or only in certain circumstances? 

Alongside this, the less realistic, supernatural components helped to soften the negativity with an interesting cast of sinister characters working to keep the human universe in order. It kept it interesting, making it more entertaining than just a lecture. 

At times some scenes were genuinely uncomfortable. The graphic descriptions of violence- both realistic and fantastical- were often meticulously detailed in a grotesque fashion. But the depth of Grant's skill allowed for it to be written exceptionally well, instead of being an all out gore-fest. These scenes may depict cruelty, but they are formed in a way that they were actually crucial to the plot. The story retained its sophisticated message instead of becoming cheap. 

There is a huge plot twist. It's so clever how Grant kept it under wraps and revealed it slowly, so it dawned upon us as readers at the same time that the characters discovered the truth. 

The Messenger of Fear made me think and question more than any other book ever has.
I devoured it in less than one day, in a single sitting.
Those who are interested and sceptics alike, you must pick up this book. 

5/5 stars 

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