Michael Grant excels at taking a reader to the edge (or sometimes beyond) of what frightens you, I mean deeply frightens you, displaying the slippery slope down into the dark recesses, the murky depths that blur the lines between right, wrong, and no-win situations, and of course the madness that’s ready to consume you when looking into the face of your nightmares is too much.
With his techno-thriller series BZRK winding down, Grant turns his attention inward to explore the choices and their consequences that we make in our daily lives. Choices that impact others and could be (should be?) judged as good or evil. And it’s those evil choices that concern us here, for when you’ve made a choice that harms another, that causes pain, suffering, anguish, or worst of all, death, you must face the Messenger of Fear: “They’ve done wrong,” Messenger said. “They’ve listened to the worst in themselves and acted in ways that upset the balance of Isthil, the balance of justice and wickedness. The crime demands a price be paid” (70) The Messenger offers a game to the guilty: if you win, you are let go; if you lose, you will face your most deep seeded, worst fear. Even with this “choice”, you can’t escape psychological torment: the games test everything you’ve got, surely leaving lasting scars (both physical and mental) and if you lose, well, your mind will probably be broken beyond saving.
Readers meet Messenger and are brought into his grim world when Mara awakens in a field of grass, surrounded by a dense fog, sure that she’s died. She can’t recall how she came to be in this place between life and death, or anything about her life before, all she knows now is that her only source for answers is a remote, but beautiful, young man. With each question Mara asks, more horror unfolds before her; as she learns that her own wickedness brought her here, to a place of isolation, anguish, cruelty in the name of “fairness”, and worst of all, eternal judgment. She is the next Messenger of Fear.
- Posted by Cori