Author: Michael Grant
Publish Date: 23 September 2014
Genre: Fantasy, supernatural, horror
Audience: Young adult
I am not usually a huge fan of book series, but Michael Grant’s GONE series is one of my absolute favourites. I have had ‘Messenger of Fear’ sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of years now, but have never felt an overwhelming urge to read it; however, lately, I have been having a craving for fantasy so I felt it was about time I should pick it up.
‘Messenger of Fear’ follows a teenage girl called Mara who awakes in a field, not knowing anything about herself or the world she has found herself in. A boy appears out of the mist, telling Mara that he is the Messenger of Fear, and she is his apprentice. As Messenger of Fear, he brings justice to those who have done evil, allowing them to play a game in return for their life. Whilst watching the Messenger dole out his justices on the wicked, Mara must learn why she has been chosen to be his apprentice.
Something which I absolutely adore about Michael Grant is his ability to create such a unique story. There are so many different plot lines in ‘Messenger of Fear’ as you experience the story of three different people who are facing their punishments, alongside Mara’s self-discovery and the Messenger’s own life experiences. All of the stories are seamlessly weaved into one connecting plot, and despite the amount going on, it is not confusing to follow. I also love that Grant primarily uses children and young adults in his novels, as it shows much more of a maturity to independent young people, whilst allowing a sense of naivety to also be explored.
Controversially, I am quite a big fan of Grant’s writing style. This is something which I know is often debated, as he is very blunt and says it how it is. Whilst I would not normally be a fan of this style, I think it works particularly well with Grant’s novels due to his plots. His stories require gruesome details, and a blunt writing style makes scenes of cruelty and violence all the more shocking. In addition, Grant’s forthright tone is paired with a fast-paced nature which contrasts heavily with the actual subtlety of the plot; thus, plot revelations are surprising, as the line between reality and illusion are so extremely blurred, and you are left wondering how you did not see the ending coming!
The thing that stopped me from giving ‘Messenger of Fear’ five out of five stars was that for nearly the whole book, the reasons behind everything that is happening are completely unclear. Whilst I am aware that this is the entire point of the plot, and it successfully puts you into Mara’s shoes, the fact that I did not know anything about the characters or the world itself until the very end was quite frustrating, and something which I cannot quite shake off. As a result, it was very hard to become attached to any of the characters, and whilst they were all likeable, none of them really resonated with me. However, admittedly this did build up to a very satisfying end, and I did undergo that fulfilling, conclusive feeling you get after a good novel; thus, ‘Messenger of Fear’ made you work hard throughout the whole book, but it ultimately rewarded you with an exciting and surprising ending.
I cannot say much more about the book, as because it is so heavily plot driven, anything else I reveal would be a spoiler. Overall, I really enjoyed ‘Messenger of Fear’. It was a quick and stimulating read, with fantastic imagery and a mystery for you as a reader to solve. In addition, plot uncertainties set the novel up perfectly for a sequel, which I am very excited to delve into! I would highly recommend this book to anybody who is a fan of Michael Grant’s previous work, or if you are wanting a good challenge of a story.