Monday, 25 August 2014

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant


Book Summary : 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 .

My Rating : 3 of 5 stars


My Thoughts : Many readers might get shocked to know this is my first Michael Grant book. Yup, I haven’t yet read Gone series. However, I must accept, my first impression and experience was neither good, nor bad. Messenger of Fear is quite different PNR from its cousins where the genre is concerned. It was blended with gothic horror and a spoonful of mythology, finally garnished with adolescent drama.

The story begins with our protagonist, Mara, waking up in limbo sort of field, engulfed by strange mist pressing close to her. And from the mist appears a mysterious figure, who calls himself the messenger of fear. Mara, as she doesn't remember who she is (except her name, of course) and why she's here, follows the messenger in a game—the price of which she has yet to understand.

As for the story, it was flat, moved at snail’s pace and bored the living shit out of me. Almost nothing happened throughout the story, except the MC witnessing lives and their untold stories, and watched the Messenger deliver penance for their crimes. I understand if the first installment is meant to be the set up for the next ones. So, despite having thought about DNF-ing, I reined my frail penitent from disintegrating into dust and kept reading, only to end up giving it three stars. I think that makes it pretty decent read for me.

The book deals with good amount of social issues teenagers often face; how one moment of mistake can turn their life upside down, how one small action can cost consequence beyond imagination. The book delivered us the definition between right and wrong, myths of warring gods, and the balance that must be kept at any price.

The best thing about the book was its writing. The prose was refined and philosophical in many places, further reinforced the story. The gritty details, and violence described, are still aglow in my mind even after a week of finishing the book.

As for the characters, Mara was rather a flat one with a mature voice of narration. Although I don’t blame her for being so boring, because she was written in such way and was put in situations where she could do nothing but to observe and be horrified at the inexorable images of various lives unfolding before her. At first I was intrigued by her character, but as the book progressed, I started guessing the big twist and my interest lessened.

Messenger of Fear, on the other hand, was a silent and seductive creature thousand times better than his other YA counterparts, trust me. He bears pain of those he inflicted punishments upon, and despite stripped from his humanity, he still longs for his lost love. To me, he was a paradox. A puzzle better remain unsolved till the next installment.

And blessedly, there was no romance.

So, Yay folks, go an pick the book up if you’re in the mood for no lluurrrvvv and want something gory to satisfy your appetite.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Blog Tour : The Ghost Bride

Character Spotlight: Ox-headed Demon

Thank you so much for having me! My book, THE GHOST BRIDE, is a historical fantasy set in 1890s colonial Malaya (the old name for Malaysia where I come from) and is about a young Chinese woman who receives a marriage proposal for the son of the wealthiest family in town. The only problem is, he’s dead.

I had a lot of fun writing this book, based as it is on the blurred borderline between spirits and humans. In fact, there's strong Chinese literary tradition of strange tales set in the shadowy, elaborate Chinese ghost world, where nothing is as it seems and beautiful women turn out to be foxes. I enjoyed reading a lot of these stories when I was young, and I also heard many odd stories about ghosts while I was growing up in Malaysia.

When I was writing the second half of THE GHOST BRIDE, when the main character Li Lan ventures into the world of the dead, it seemed natural to populate it with all the colourful and peculiar creatures of Chinese folk beliefs. The animal-headed demons, along with the withered hungry ghosts of those who died with no funeral offerings, tree and plant spirits, dragons, and women with backwards pointing feet. It is a world filled with spirits and ghosts, where the horses, houses, and servants are all made of burned paper funeral offerings.

Structurally, the Chinese Afterlife is often conceived as a bureaucratic version of Imperial China, complete with bribable officials and various Hells where souls are tormented before being reincarnated. In all these stories, there were often references to 牛头马面 - the ox-headed and horse-faced demons of Hell. These were almost exactly as their names describe - animal-headed demons whose jobs were to escort the dead and also act as jailers. You see them also in Japanese depictions of the underworld. Growing up, I often thought it was such a bizarre, yet strangely frightening idea. In real life, oxen and horses are herbivores and to think of them wielding cutlasses and saws was quite disturbing!

In my book, the ox-headed demons appear as general foot soldiers. I debated whether to add the horse-faced demons, but decided that one type of animal was enough. If I ever write a sequel, however, I might have to feature them too. :)

Thank you so much for having me - it’s been a pleasure!

Author Bio: Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Chinese from Malaysia. After graduating from Harvard, she worked in various corporate jobs while secretly writing fiction between financial spreadsheets. Now a stay-at-home-mum, she writes late at night when her kids have (finally!) gone to sleep. Yangsze eats and reads too much and often does both at her blog http://yschoo.com/



About The Book : Oprah.com’s Book of the Week, a Carnegie Medal nominee, and Goodreads 2013 Best Fantasy finalist. THE GHOST BRIDE is a historical fantasy.

“One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride…”

Li Lan, a young Chinese woman, lives in 1890s colonial Malaya with her quietly ruined father, who returns one evening with a proposition — the fabulously wealthy Lim family want Li Lan to marry their dead son. After a fateful visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets, before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

Now The Giveaway Time.

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Don't Forget To Visit Other Tour Stops

Aug 4th Guest Blog @ Fire & Ice
5th Character Spotlight @ Pages From My Thoughts
6th Author Interview @ The Mod Podge Bookshelf
7th Recipe Reveal @ Pieces of Whimsy
8th Character Spotlight @ Gobs and Gobs of Books
11th Guest Blog @ A Dream Within A Dream
12th Recipe Reveal @ Bookish Things and More
13th Author Interview @ Bibliophelia, Please
14th Recipe Reveal @ Fantasy's Ink
15th Character Spotlight @ Addicted Readers