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Messenger of Fear #2

The Tattooed Heart

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Mara has already witnessed more evil as the Messenger’s apprentice than most people do in their lifetime, but the games continue.

The Messenger leads Mara to the funeral of a Muslim boy named Aimal, who died standing up for his people, and then to an abandoned store, where they discover Graciella, a girl battling addiction. The all-knowing Messenger recognizes that they are victims of heinous crimes. Mara and Messenger will find the wicked—those who act out of selfishness and greed, and others who become violent because of prejudice and hate.

But Mara and Messenger pay a price too. For every person who is offered justice, they will wear a tattoo that symbolizes the heart of the crime. And as Mara delves deeper into her harsh reality, she is suprirsed to realize that part of her is drawn to the sometimes compassionate Messenger. In spite of all the terror she and Messenger inflict, Mara will discover that caring in this world is the hardest part of all.

The second book in New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant’s Messenger of Fear series, The Tattooed Heart combines fantasy with real-world horror stories to create a satisfying conclusion.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published August 27, 2015

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About the author

Michael Grant

86 books11k followers
Co-author with Katherine Applegate of Ocean City, Making Out, Summer, Animorphs, Everworld, Remnants, Eve and Adam.

Pseudonymous coauthor with KA of Christy (the TV spin-off books), Sweet Valley Twins, Girl Talk and various Disney spin-offs.

Pseudonymous author of Barf-O-Rama.

Author of Gone, BZRK, The Magnificent 12, Messenger of Fear, Front Lines, Monster and A Sudden Death in Cyprus.

AKA Michael Robinson (restaurant reviews and newspaper features).

AKA Michael Reynolds (legal name) political media producer. (Team Blue).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 219 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,728 reviews1,279 followers
September 22, 2015
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“Why do people do evil things?”
Messenger’s answer stunned me. “Why did you?”

This was a good second instalment, and I enjoyed it much more than ‘Messenger of Fear’.

I felt sorry for Mara in this story, as she saw how hard her life would be, and how loveless her life would be it seemed to have a real impact on her, and I think she finally started to understand what being a messenger would be like, and how she was being punished by having to punish other people.

“I ask for the judgment of Isthil.”

The storyline in this was pretty good, we got some intolerance of different cultures, and some outright murders in this book, and the punishments seemed quite fitting also. The romance angle went a bit wrong for Mara, but that wasn’t really the main focus of the book. I also loved the joke about Mara complaining that the research books should have kindle versions so that she could search them easier!

“We stood there in silence, the boy in black, and the girl who loved him.”

The ending to this was also pretty good, and it will be interesting to see what happens to Mara in the next book in the series!

7 out of 10
Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
December 23, 2015
The Tattooed Heart follows the story of Mara, a girl who has been sentenced by a greater power for her hand in driving a young girl to suicide. She's now accepted her fate and works as an apprentice for the Messenger of Fear, a title which allows those who bare it to see into the minds of those who are deemed wicked and extract their greatest fear. To restore the balance, to determine guilt, the wicked are asked to play a game where the only positive outcome is to win. Refusing to play is seen as being defeated and punishable under the guidance of Isthil. The horrors Mara faces haunt her every moment, fears of justice that befalls upon those sentenced. She's being trained to become The Messenger, where she will lose her identity, her spirit and any connection to her former life.

In The Tattooed Heart, Mara is pining for her former life. With each new judgement, an inked tattoo appears on her skin, her mind holding the horrors of the darkest fears of the wicked and as a Messenger, she is never to be touched. But rather than let the isolation and loneliness take hold, Mara becomes emotionally invested in her work. Her feelings for The Messenger are clouding her judgement all while he pines away for his lost love simply known as Ariadne. Mara knows she'll never hold his heart so in an act of narcissism disguised as kindness, she's determined to find out what became of Ariadne so The Messenger may one day be free to love her. Only her.

I felt for Mara. I don't believe she was in love with The Messenger, but craved companionship and understanding. Facing a life of servitude in a state of purgatory, Mara's apprenticeship is almost complete, only then will she take the reigns alone and become the next Messenger. But throughout The Tattooed Heart, Mara is also faced with the decision whether to seek a life of pleasure with Oriax, the counterbalance to The Messenger who seeks pleasure and pain. Throughout the storyline, Mara not only matures, but develops into someone who's not only being punished but is worthy of the Messenger title.

Ending on a bittersweet note, I can't fathom what Michael Grant has in store for the finale. The Messenger of Fear series, although entertaining, also poses questions to readers such as morality, justice and paying for your crimes. How we judge others, even fictional characters, as seen through the eyes of someone else.

An emotional installment to the series, The Tattooed Heart is engaging, highly charged and sure to leave readers feeling emotionally exhausted. I enjoyed the inclusion of more diverse characters who Mara and The Messenger are seeking justice for, as I felt more invested in their plight than that of our protagonist at times. Similar to Michael Grant's Gone series, the writing is sharp, restrained and isn't bloated by lyrical prose. Looking forward to the finale and seeing the magic Michael Grant can create for our young heroine. Because bloody hell, she's going to need it.
Profile Image for Stephanie (Bookfever).
984 reviews113 followers
September 20, 2015
The Tattooed Heart had a different feel, compared to the first book. It had some difficult subjects and it was a little bit bittersweet. But I still enjoyed it a whole lot!

Mara is still Messenger's apprentice, learning how to be a Messenger of Fear herself. I felt like there was a huge difference between Mara at the start of this book and Mara at the end of it. She has grown so much even though there were a lot of temptations and horrible things to face along the way for her.

The story mostly revolved about Mara finding the strenght to say no to Oriax and everything she has to offer, like Messenger returning Mara's feelings, and finally becoming who she is meant to be.

Like I said before, this book is a little bittersweet, especially the ending and when it came to Messenger *sniffles*.

But overall, it was a great sequel, to the first book. The writing was excellent, the story and characters were all engaging and I can't wait for book #3!
Profile Image for Zemira Warner.
1,569 reviews1,040 followers
June 12, 2016
Michael Grant is killing it with Messenger of Fear series! I love everything about them. I don't get why these books aren't more popular! People need to embrace the dark and raw sides of themselves and plunge headfirst into Messenger of Fear and The Tattooed Heart. You're all missing out!

Hope there'll be 6 books in total but we'll probably have to accept only 3. I could read about these characters and their unique world everyday.

This is my first Michael Grant series I've read. Is his Gone series any good? I saw some scary fanart a couple of years ago and decided not to read it but I think I'm finally ready to discover his other work.
Profile Image for Nicola.
229 reviews21 followers
August 22, 2015
The Tattooed Heart leaves off where Messenger of Fear ends: Mara has just discovered why she has been chosen as the messenger's apprentice and is coming to terms with that. She is learning more about the complex world she has entered whilst acknowledging that she has done wrong.

I love that the world in this series is so dark and creepy. It is so unlike anything else I have read about which heightens the horror of it all and it doesn't fail to surprise me.

Mara is an interesting character who continues to grow as a person throughout her journey of acceptance. She knows that she did a terrible thing and has accepted her fate but it is still difficult for her to become accustomed to the responsibilities and the consequences. One of the hardest hurdles is that messengers cannot be touched which essentially means having to live a lonely life.

Mara also shows some selflessness in a touching story with the messenger which I just loved. We finally learn his back story and just who Ariadne is. There is a heartbreaking history between them but the resolution is beautifully carried out.

We meet some new faces in this sequel as well as running into some old faces. Mara and the messenger explore the lives of new victims, and those deserving of punishment, and once again we delve into the evil side of humanity and ponder the way wrongdoers should be brought to justice. It's a thought-provoking topic with no easy answer.

I'm happy with the way things ended and I would love to see how Mara handles her new responsibility. I would also like to see more of Daniel as his history is still very mysterious and we don't know him very well yet. Overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable sequel.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Electric Monkey) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Siobhan.
4,491 reviews469 followers
May 24, 2018
Michael Grant is an author who has caught my attention on many occasions. More than one of his series have whispered a ‘read me’ in the book store, yet I always found my attention pulled elsewhere. With how big a fan base Michael Grant has, however, I decided it was finally time for me to dive into his work. Thus, when I saw the two Messenger of Fear novels on offer, I decided to take the leap.

The first book, Messenger of Fear, was a decent enough read. I gave it a three-star rating, but in reality it was more of a three-point-five-star read. It kept my attention, it had me powering through the book in a single sitting, and I was left wanting more – proving it was not a bad book. My feelings towards The Tattooed Heart are pretty similar – in the same way book one was a rounded down rating, so too was book two.

As with the first book, The Tattooed Heart was a book I managed to work through much quicker than I’d expected. It took me slightly longer to read this one, but it was still an easy book to work through. Like book one, a part of this is how easily the book sucks you in – once you get going you find yourself turning page after page, working your way through the book at a rapid pace to see how things end.

Similar to the first book, however, I had to round this one down due to a lack of depth. There was more depth to this story than the first book, yet I was left with far too many questions by the end. The story seemed to focus upon certain elements, introducing other things and never explaining them in full. In many ways, it felt as though this book was an introduction for further books in the series, yet as far as I’m aware this is to remain a duology. What I really would have liked is another book that tied up all the loose ends I have, that finally explained those elements of the world building that were introduced but never taken as far as they could have been.

Overall, this was an enjoyable second book. There were too many open questions for me to be truly content, but it was a fun book to keep me entertained for a while.

There is no doubt I can see why Michael Grant has such a large fan base, and I’ll certainly be more willing to pick up his books in the future. I’m not going to go out of my way to do so, but I’ll certainly be considering his books more often.
Profile Image for Emily Mead.
569 reviews
December 7, 2015
Ahhhhhh this was so good. The storylines of these books are so unique, and they're INTENSE, people.

Review to come.


I’m not usually a fan of the creepy, gory, paranormal books, but these are incredible.

I’ll go into the reasoning for a second, but I’ll just start off by saying that it has the COOLEST premise ever. If you have no idea what these books are about, basically there are people called Messengers who visit humans.

If people are particularly cruel, they get a visit and are offered a game – if they win the game, they go free, but if they lose, they endure their greatest fear, and if they survive it without going mad, they can return to their lives.

It’s pretty great.

I think what I love most about these books (apart from how fascinating they are) is the thought-provoking-ness. Which is definitely a word.

Basically what this book does is get you to really think about things. Things like:

What creates evil?
Should we feel sympathy for people who make their own bad decisions?
What is my greatest fear???

This last one made me rack my brains throughout the entire novel. Basically, if a person loses the game, there’s this mind-reading thing so the messenger can see the person’s worst fear. I can’t even imagine what mine would be. There are so many things I’m scared of!

Mara is also an excellent protagonist.

She’s really smart (which I like) and cluey. Plus, she questions herself and her morals rather than being self-righteous about everything – it’s a trait I admire and I think it’s a really useful trait to have.

Poor Mara goes through a lot and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like.

So much pain…

We also had a bustling plot where lots of things were happening, and luckily it didn’t suffer from Middle Book Syndrome.

It’s a lot BUSIER than the first book, and even though they aren’t very long books, a lot is packed into them. It never felt rushed or forced, and the pacing was pretty much perfect.

It also delves more into the hierarchy of the gods and the system of the Messengers, which was just so creative and excellent.

Plus, you know, all the punishments and games were just weirdly fascinating.

I don’t want to spoil any of them but gosh, they were INTENSE, people. There is a warning that says there are scenes of violence and cruelty, so just be aware of that. Michael Grant always stops short of being TOO graphic, but it’s definitely there.

Overall, an excellent and RIVETING second installment.

I don’t use that word often so you’d better believe it.

Plus! Me, Emily, reading a paranormal and LIKING IT? Heavens above.
Profile Image for Kylie🐾.
72 reviews47 followers
August 25, 2017
This book was actually moving and I love the fact it was mainly about self courage, self control and most importantly KARMA!.

It gave me an insight in what Amy happen to you if you do of cause bad to others , it's a strange lesson but it's also a good one . I personally think there's a messanger of fear and their apprentice somewhere out there in the world . It's good to see karma catch up with the people that's brought harm to others and then change them for the better ...hopefully.

I definitely loved and understood this book and it makes me want to be a better person , it makes me want to be less selfish and jealous, it's like my own personal bible .❤️
Profile Image for Mike.
489 reviews170 followers
May 15, 2016
Disclaimer: I received this book as part of an ARC giveaway at a local indie bookstore. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the contents of this review.

It almost feels redundant to review this book, because I already reviewed Messenger of Fear, the first book of this series, and my problems with the two books are so similar. In a lot of ways, this is the same book as Messenger of Fear. The themes have evolved slightly, and the events themselves are distinct enough. But the tone and structure are so similar that it's still hard to review the two books separately. Like Messenger of Fear, this was poorly written, with uninteresting characters, and an odd structure that tries to be experimental but just doesn't work. A lot of my review will have to consist of things that I left out from my last review, rather than anything that applies specifically to this book.

For example, in my last review, I talked a lot about how bad the dialogue was. But I failed to single out Oriax for special abuse. Oriax is the villain of this novel (I guess), and she does represent something kind of interesting, thematically. If there's one thing that's improved about this series from the last book, it's that Grant seems to be putting a lot more effort into the thematic questions this time. Oriax really didn't serve any purpose in the last book - her character had little to do with the worldbuilding, and absolutely nothing to do with the moral questions. But here, there's potential for her to be more. Grant defines her purpose much more concretely. In Messenger of Fear, the Messenger was shown as the objective, perfect hand of justice, bringing punishment onto those who deserved it. There were some questions as to whether his victims were truly evil or not, but they were all so obvious and spelled out that there was no room for the reader to think. Here, Oriax is a foil to the Messenger. For the first time, we see hints that maybe the Messenger isn't the perfect hand of justice that he was shown to be in the first book. Oriax represents living life for pleasure, instead of thinking in terms of right and wrong. She (literally) seduces Mara with this viewpoint, tempting her to abandon what Oriax sees as a hypocritical and self-righteous quest for justice and serenity.

This all had the potential to be way more engaging than anything in Messenger of Fear. Which is why it's a shame that Oriax is so horribly written. Grant writes her as this femme fatale, seducing Mara with the idea of hedonism. That might've worked, but in Grant's hands, it looks like this:

"Excellent," [Oriax] purred. "What I get out of this is the pleasure of seeing and helping to inflict pain. I savor human despair. I revel in human weakness. But equally, I take enjoyment from offering its opposite: pleasure." She made a sort of philosophical sound, a worldly sigh, a commentary on life's interesting vagaries. "It's fortunate, really, because in a way it's also my... job." She spoke that word with evident distaste. "I am what I am, I am what I do, and I enjoy what I do."

She leaned toward me, very close, and I felt my heart race. It was not a rational thing, nor even strictly a sensual thing, it is something almost like gravity - invisible, inescapable, inevitable. Oriax does that and I could no more ignore it than I could ignore the heat of the sun or the pull of the earth's core.

"And now, my question for you, mini-Messenger. It is this: Have you fantasized about our lovely, handsome Messenger? Have you imagined yourself in his arms? In his bed?"

I'll be honest: this is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read. I've already talked about how overwritten the prose is in its attempts to feel literary, and it's even worse than usual here. (How the hell can a sigh be a philosophical commentary on life?) But even worse is Oriax's dialogue. It's trying so hard to be sexy*, and it all just comes off as beyond inane. I expected there to be some sort of punchline to this scene, but no, Mara really is supposed to be enthralled by this. Moreover, it just doesn't gel with the themes of this series for the villain to be a femme fatale. Grant has always been self-aware of making sure his books are diverse, and that's true more than ever here - this series is extremely self-aware, almost to the point of awkwardness. So it just doesn't make any sense to see a mildly misogynistic archetype as our villain. These mistakes show up in almost every scene that Oriax is in. I won't say her characterization ruined the thematics of this novel, but it was a lot more difficult to appreciate because of her.

But maybe the thematics still wouldn't have worked, even if Oriax was a more well-developed character. Because there are also issues with the stories that the Messenger shows Mara. I had a lot of trouble putting my finger on why these stories didn't quite work for me in my last review, but I think I've figured it out here. The problem is that the characters in these stories don't feel real. We know absolutely nothing about them except for details that are directly relevant to the story. Take Trent and Pete, for example. Their story involves their Islamophobia - they start by harassing a Muslim girl in their class at school, and eventually commit a serious hate crime against a Muslim. It's not that we know nothing about Trent and Pete, it's just that everything we know is told only because it relates to their Islamophobia. That's the only reason we find out about Trent's abusive father, and the way he takes his anger out on Pete. We don't know anything about them otherwise. Do they have any hobbies? Likes and dislikes? Weird fetishes? Who knows? They're not people - they're embodiments of Islamophobia and racism. This is merely bad writing when it's applied to oppressors, but when it's applied to the victims of these hate crimes, it's much more troubling. On one hand, it's hard to accuse Grant of Islamophobia, because there's no double standard here. He writes the Muslim characters exactly the way he writes Trent and Pete: bland and undeveloped. But on the other hand, it is worse to write a poorly-developed Muslim character than it is to write a poorly-developed character that isn't of an oppressed religion. I'll put it this way: I can't think of a single YA book with a well-rendered Muslim character that wasn't about being Muslim. I wish Grant hadn't passed up the opportunity to change that.

The problem of uninteresting characterization also extends to Mara and The Messenger. One of the most common criticisms of Messenger of Fear was that Mara was a boring narrator. Personally, I wasn't bothered by it. Yes, she was definitely a pinball protagonist, and we didn't know a ton about her. But that made sense, because Messenger of Fear begins with Mara waking up in an unfamiliar setting with her memory erased. The plot demanded that she be a bit boring, and had the story around her been more interesting, it probably wouldn't have been very noticeable. But at the end of Messenger of Fear, Mara got her memory back. And guess what? She's still boring. She's still a pinball protagonist (until the very end of the novel), and we still don't know anything about her except for a vague outline of her personality. Grant doesn't have an excuse this time. It's a shame, because this novel might've worked better if we could've seen a human perspective on all these moral questions. The Messenger is equally boring. Grant makes a last-ditch effort to flesh him out towards the end of the novel, but it's too little, too late. He's an embodiment of stoicness who misses his girlfriend, nothing more.

The structure of this novel also failed for me. I didn't really talk about this much in my last review, but there really isn't much of a dramatic structure in these novels. There's very little buildup of tension, because the structure eliminates almost any possibility of a climax. Grant does try to shoehorn in a climax here, regarding the Messenger's character arc, but it feels completely out of place. The Messenger's arc wasn't very significant to the overall story, and it wasn't very interesting. I have no idea why Grant decided to use this to end the novel - it just falls flat for me. Maybe, with a more subtle author, a traditional climax wouldn't have been necessary, but of course, Grant isn't subtle enough for that.

Here's what I get from this series so far: Grant is trying to establish credibility as a 'serious' writer, who tackles big philosophical issues, rather than a kiddie author who writes commercial lit. I saw a little of this in BZRK, looking back, but this is the first novel where it's really visible. And that's a shame. Grant's appeal has always been that he writes action books that appeal to people who don't read very often, but are still well-written with realistic characters. It really is a waste of Grant's talents to be writing this. It's not as if Grant didn't tackle complex moral questions in his older works. He did, often, and it all worked a lot better than it does here. I hope Grant goes back to what he's good at, because he's just embarrassing himself by going in this direction.

*Fun fact: Michael Grant got his start writing erotica with Katherine Applegate in the late eighties. I've never read any of that, but if these scenes are any indication, I wouldn't like it very much.

This review can also be found on my blog.
Profile Image for T📚.
49 reviews8 followers
October 5, 2021
4.5⭐️ I don’t know if I should feel sad or not at the ending. A bitter sweet ending indeed. But still this book teach me a lot of things and I love how it keep me intrigued through out the story 😭. I don’t feel any sort of attachment towards the characters but some of the story made me sad ahh
Profile Image for Ruthsic.
1,763 reviews13 followers
September 21, 2015
Mara has learned to punish the wicked as the Messenger’s apprentice. Those who act out of selfishness and greed, and others who become violent because of prejudice and hate, pay the ultimate price. But Mara is constantly reminded that Messengers are serving their own kind of punishment—for every person who is offered justice, they wear a tattoo that symbolizes the heart of the crime. As Mara delves deeper into her harsh reality, she will discover that in spite of all the terror she and Messenger inflict, caring in this world is the hardest part of all.

Messenger of Fear had introduced us to this world of agents of the Heptarchy, who seek to maintain the balance between existence and non-existence. Mara is being trained by her master, one of the Messengers, in the various aspects of her job – to determine guilt, judgement and execute the will of Isthil. While the first book was marvelous in setting up the world, it sort of came apart in this sequel. The world was unfinished and raw in the first, and I expected a wholly constructed fantastical world that would explain the Heptarchy in greater detail, as well as how the messengers come to exist and all. The Tattooed Heart, however, was more focused on Mara’s crush on her mentor; I agree it was bound to happen, but didn’t think that would be the driving force of the plot. A differently shaped mythology finally yielded to be a cult-ish parody of the heaven-hell variation of regular faith.

As for the cases, the book delves deeper into the horrors of humanity, while also illuminating the smaller good things. But it is mostly about the ways humans hurt each other. The messengers, it seems, serve to correct wicked individuals before they tip the balance. Mara feels their guilt, judges them but can’t help also feeling compassionate towards them. It is perhaps so because she was also a wicked person. But I had more questions than the answers I got in this book. For instance, why was the manager not punished? If Messengers only usually target the young, why were there messengers of all ages at the trial? Another – who does the freaking laundry, man? If it is magic or that mist, how come his clothes weren’t already presented to him? And for that matter, what was with that disappointing ending? How do Messengers actually retire? Do they have a set time to fulfill their service or do they get relief only when another is there to take their place?

While the plot and world-building suffered from sequel syndrome, the writing and pacing were thankfully on point. The characters do come alive, but when you are delving into the core of humans, I guess that’s natural. Mara is suffering from loneliness and despair, and that in part guides her actions. The addition of a new character to the dynamic did serve to shake things up, and bring a resolution to a burning question I had. In conclusion, the book was good but didn’t match up to the previous one.

Received a free galley from Katherine Tegen Books via Edelweiss; this does not affect my opinions or review.
Profile Image for Richa.
430 reviews140 followers
August 4, 2015
Originally posted on City of Books

The Tattooed Heart is a lot more substantial than the first book, and we finally get some backstory on Messenger. The issues brought up here are on a larger scale than we've seen before, and I think are also more serious. I really liked that we get to know the characters more, and though it's still a short novel, it was very satisfying.

Mara and Messenger are following new people, trying to give them the justice they deserve. Mara's grown to accept what she is and who she will become, but it's still really hard on her. She knows now who she used to be, and she's not proud of that. But she's trying her best to make up for it. Mara knows what her responsibilities will be, but she's just begun to realize the consequences of all the rules - especially the one that says Messengers are not to be touched.

I really admire how Michael Grant brings up so many things that are wrong with this world through this YA series. And it makes me wish that Messenger was real, so that the wrongdoers could actually be brought to justice. It's terrible how so many of these people go free, and the victims' lives are ruined forever. This is one of those books that really makes you think, and I don't see that very often in YA, so I'm really happy about that aspect.

Mara isn't as desensitized as Messenger is, not yet. But she's getting there. Messenger still feels emotions but he just doesn't show them as much as Mara does. He's kind and compassionate and he really cares about Mara. I sympathized with him a lot regarding his lost love, Ariadne. We also get to find out more about her, by the way. And how she and Messenger got dealt the cards they ended up with.

I adored the way the book ended, and I'm really curious to see what happens next. Mara's been given a lot more responsibility, and I'm eager to see how she deals with it. As for the minor characters, Oriax and Daniel, they're still a bit enigmatic. Well, we find out a lot more about Oriax. But Daniel is still a mystery, and I hope we get to see more of him in the next book.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*
Profile Image for Maddie.
963 reviews133 followers
August 10, 2016
Yet another awesome book by Michael Grant :D One thing that did slightly disagree with me though was I like the goryness of it, the realisticness and the detail. I also quite like the Master of the Game. He fascinates me, in a gross way. I also like the way they can delve deep into people and see their deep fears, and I also weirdly like how they put people through those fears in the hope that it will change their lives. I just really like the concept. Love this series.
Profile Image for Natasya Wiah.
189 reviews47 followers
October 30, 2022
Glad I finish this.. a lot of things unfolded in this book. If this going to be a movie,, the movie would be great too☺️
August 4, 2021
I thought it was quite an interesting book to read and a good sequel but I didn’t like how nothing really happened plot wise until the second half of the book
25 reviews
March 12, 2018
Personal Response:
I liked this book because it had a lot of unexpected things. It was hard to predict what was coming next. I also liked this book because it had a very interesting plot that caught my attention

Plot Summary:
In The Tattooed Heart Messenger and Mara go on many more missions. They deal with several people who have done terrible sins and are forced to pay for what they have done. They are offered a game and if they lose or turn it down they will face their biggest fear. Mara is trying to please Messenger by trying her hardest. She has fallen in love with the boy in the hood but she knows that his heart has already taken by another girl. Near the end of the book Mara goes out on a quest to find the Messengers one true love and set her free.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has had the first book of this series. Anyone who has read the Gone series might also like this book. This book is a great read for teenagers who like action.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Robbie.
334 reviews11 followers
July 16, 2016
If it wasn't for the remarkably satisfying ending that nicely finished off this duology, I'd say that this was one of the worst books I've read this year. The ending that finally gave us answers we've craved since the beginning of the first book, brought Mara and The Messenger's relationship to a close, in a really rewarding way. It felt like a proper ending and I was grateful for it, considering that most of the book was a grim and unexplained mess.

The plot of this book was ridiculous. Everything was based around the idea that "you will get to know what is going on when The Messenger wants you to know what is going on". And that was supposed to make everything ok, that everything was being presented in such a bizarre and overly dramatic order, because that's how The Messenger teaches and so on. It was all so heavy and huge, with messages needing to be learned from everything and the morals of everyone needing to be questioned at every turn.

It's commendable that Grant chose to write a duology with the primary focus of exploring all of the 'wrongs' in the world, and presenting the conflicts that come with having to punish those that have carried out those wrongs. But it didn't work. It wasn't impactful enough. Some things seemed childish in comparison to all of the adult acts of violence and gore that were frequently described.
And several things bothered me in general, like Mara contradicting herself with a large first chapter about how she 'doesn't have nightmares any more. She has 'nice dreams now, like her body is giving her a break from her now horrific life as the Messenger's apprentice,' but then she kept mentioning all of these nightmares and horrors that visited her in her sleep every night, countless times during the book. Whole chapters felt like a waste of time.

If you're looking for a Michael Grant book to read, try the Gone series. Don't pick up this thing.
Profile Image for Frank Chillura.
104 reviews6 followers
May 11, 2015
Check out my blog for reviews on more new and upcoming books.



I found the first book in this series, Messenger of Fear, a darkly intense and interesting read. I have never read a book that was similar, so it is a little difficult to categorize it. It's sequel, The Tattooed Heart, picks up where we left off in book 1. We already know the truth behind who Mara is and why she was chosen to apprentice with Messenger, so we are not trying to solve a great mystery in this story.

This book is all about getting down to the job at hand. Finding people who have wronged someone in a truly cruel way and having them be judged and sentenced... with a dark and sinister twist of course. Those found guilty are made to compete for their lives. If they win, they walk away free. If they lose, their worst fears are inflicted on them. Messenger and Mara search through a person's life by speeding through time to watch the exact turning point that made them go down the wrong path. They find out who helped them down that path and those that hurt them the most are the ones they sentence.

While The Tattooed Heart follows the characters in their lives, it also gives us the much needed back story for Messenger that I have been craving for since I picked up book 1. We find out who he was and how he became this emotionless, unfeeling character, as well as who Ariadne was... his long lost love.

After finishing the book, I was sad, because it seems as if the story has ended. While researching on GoodReads for my review, I found that there is going to be a book 3... how will Grant continue it from here? I guess I'll have to wait until 2016 to find out.
Profile Image for ★MC's Corner★.
965 reviews48 followers
June 23, 2015

To be honest, I’m not planning to read this one…. until I saw it on the new batch of ARCs from HarperCollins. I’m glad it’s on it… and I read it. Its really good.
The thing is… I like the first book… but I never appreciated it that much until now.

i><*MC’s Corner*
Note: Spoilers.

• I remember that I finished the first book after a few days when I started it. That’s not me at all… I want to finish a book in one to two days. (Except when I’m busy or the book is A Game of Thrones thick, that’s impossible.)
Now I realized that reading this for days–for me–is natural. Those freaky scenes are just too much… and if I read more two of them in one day…. I might explode.

• I gotta read it chunk by chunk… those trials…. OHMIGOD!
Its too much to handle in one day… The way Michael Grant described them… *vomit*

• ‘Horror’ is the right word to describe it… But not the ghost-horror, you know what I mean?

• There is something about the ending that is magical… and sad.
I am happy for Messenger… but Im kinda wondering what is going to happen next… IF THERE IS A NEXT ONE.
ARC provided by Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins Publishers) & Edelweiss in exchange of honest review. Thank you!

Profile Image for Kath.
8 reviews
October 3, 2015
This book was such a roller coaster and was way better than the first one (Which I loved as well). Mara continues being an apprentice to Messenger and discovers more about her future as a Messenger of Fear. You also see more trials and games and more about Oriax and all of the other Messengers. One of my favourite things about this book is learning more about Messenger and learning about his past, how he became Messenger, but also seeing him as as a human with emotions as opposed to the first book where he was quite emotionless. The ending of this book made me cry from happiness and sadness and I wasn't ready to read the last chapter when it came. Can't wait to see what Grant comes up with in the next book!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Erikka.
1,831 reviews
February 1, 2016
Such an improvement on the first book, but still not quite up to Grant standards. There were still some scenes that felt forced, and the whole Haarm thing felt completely unnecessary, unless it's a setup for book 3. The punishments were, again, horrific and awful, but luckily didn't have quite the psychological effect that the ones in book 1 did. These didn't hit my fears as hard, so *phew*. :) I do look forward to the novella and book 3, though, mostly because the concept is fresh and fun. And scary.

Also, does anyone else see Bradbury's Illustrated Man in the Messenger's tattoo thing? That seems like a massive tribute.
Profile Image for Elodie Rt.
216 reviews10 followers
January 7, 2016
Argh the feels... This book was a bit more dark in the scenes it depicted, more brutal, and we can see how Mara becomes who she's meant to be by experiencing all of it. But the most important thing I have to say is : that ending !!! I liked the way it ends, but also not? So, yes, that book was more bittersweet than the first one but I still love it just as much !
Profile Image for Sofia M..
233 reviews
September 4, 2016
I really enjoyed it. It was the right amount of dark and morbid. The ending did not disappoint.

The romantic element was kind of blegh. But I guess it was short lived so yeah.

((Oriax 100%))
Profile Image for Alya Atiera.
243 reviews17 followers
February 9, 2021
4.10 ★★★★☆

《 Story 》
Type: Series.
POV: Mara's.

In this last book, Mara and The Messenger continue with their next case focusing on a young Muslim boy who died protecting his people. They also deal with a case on a young girl who is a drug addict. Once again, they are able to witness evil doings inflicted on innocent people that eventually lead to their downfall. At the same time, Mara has to be prepared to become The Messenger of Fear on her own without guidance from her master/teacher. Is she ready for it to happen?

The pace is a bit slow in the beginning but it starts to pick up after that.

《 Characters 》
Mara, the female lead
I think I can somehow relate to Mara most of the times. She judges people at first glance but after getting to know their behind-the-scene story, she starts to sympathy them and wants justice for them. Mara’s character grows well from being someone who only thinks of herself (first book; ) to someone who empathize on others who are just strangers to her.

Messenger, the teacher
I have mixed feelings about Messenger character. He is still a mystery until the end. Not mystery in terms of his story but more on his character. I still can't read what kind of person he is. Well, at least he is way more open in this book compared to the last one.

《 Pros & Cons 》
Sensitive issue
↳ It focuses on the sensitive issue of racism and islamophobia. It shows the fear/insecurity of a teenage boy who bully his Muslim colleague for no solid reason. He also judges or more accurately 'slander' other foreigners staying at his state. There is also a few scenes representing the situation which had happened to some Muslims in the real world. Yes, there is violence in this book.

↳ I don't really mind on the issue of having representation like asian, black people and others in a book. But I know it is something that some people are looking for in a book. So this book has Asian and Muslim characters.

↳ Some of the parts are a bit repetitive. For example, the Piercing that Mara had performed in the previous book are still being performed in this book. The first time she performed it in this book had been described like in the first book (the process). However, the next Piercing that she did was also being described again. It could get a bit boring if you just take a couple of days to finish it instead of months. You know what I mean?

The world building
↳ Don’t take it the wrong way. The world Michael builds in this series is okay but there are still some parts that are lacking? In my humble opinion, I feel like this series could be improved by exploring more with other types of messenger. Only a few messengers have been introduced in this series and others are just not mentioned. Seeing how it's only two books make it difficult for this world to be expanded. However, I do wish there are more messengers that are involved in the story and display what kind of roles they play.

《 Personal 》
It actually starts off slow. I had a bit problem trying to get into the story for the first few pages. Probably because I have so many tasks needed to be completed at the moment. But after a few chapters, the pace picks up and I just couldn't stop reading it.

Here are some of the quotes I personally like.

“The fool says, 'I never intended to kill, I meant only to wound.' But I tell you if you prick a finger with a poisoned thorn you may not claim innocence when the heart dies. Do not plant a weed and pretend surprise when it grows to strangle your garden. For, I tell you that to hate is to kill, for from hatred grows death as surely as life grows from love. Therefore do not nurture hatred, but love, even for those who hate you in return. Hatred wins many battles, and yet will love triumph.”
“Humans really are geniuses at excusing their own behavior while condemning others-especially those others they don't really know.”

I am not sure if this is the last book. The series was supposed to be 3 books. But the author decides it was just going to be 2 after that. I can safely say the ending is open. If the author decides to add another book, there is room for that. But the questions that arise from the previous book regarding the system that existed in Mara's world? All answered (in my opinion aha).

⚝ Who should read? ⚝
❥ Can tolerate sensitive issue (racism)
❥ Want book with representation (asian & muslim)
❥ Interested in young adult book
Profile Image for Féline.
123 reviews23 followers
April 5, 2020
Wow, just wow!

The cover alone hit me first, then I got the book and oh, the red gilded pages!😍😍😍 (I'll find out how to upload photos of it later!) I get ecstatic just looking at the book, and that feeling is only stronger now that I've actually read the book.

Michael Grant's The Tattooed Heart is refreshing and different, and just when you think you've got a hold of it, it changes. Something impossible, even to this impossible world, happens.

The Tattooed Heart had me laughing out loud while also showing the true feelings of the girl who is not to be touched. Oh, I love this book! It broke my heart and put it back together even stronger than before♡

I was very depressed when I started reading it, in a reading slump which probably was the reason for my depression (because when you're bed bound, books become very essential), but merely picking up the book, with the amazing body of cover art and Red. Gilded. Pages., made me feel better, and reading it was a delight. I haven't felt depressed since finishing it yesterday, I'm actually smiling! A lot! I'm telling you this, oh, people of the internet, because the book has an actual warning. It contains some very brutal scenes. But it's also just... amazing. ♡

Mara's transformation, going from the selfish high schooler, to the strong, independent and loving girl we meet in the last chapters, is true and real. Nothing in this book feels forced. And don't get me started on Trent!
Now excuse me while I search the web for the Electric Monkey version of The Messenger of Fear!😍🎉🎉🎉 [I have read (and loved) it, but it needs to be on my bookshelf, for I must see it every day and read it again next year, and some day pass it along to my children or something like that]

My heart!💖

If anyone actually read this far, here's an extra heart for you!❤❤❤❤❤❤
Oops, that's seven hearts coming your way!❤
Profile Image for Nat Cabrera.
244 reviews1 follower
January 17, 2018
Oh my God! I dived in this book with seriously low expectations and it amazes me how much I enjoyed it! The Messenger of fear was good, however I found the start pretty tedious and even boring, so I definitely didn't see THIS book coming, it was great! For starters, the theme is AMAZING, I consider the plot is extremely creative and original. The execution of the story in the first book wasn’t fully entertaining, but as the world and characters are already developed in this second installment, the experience was pure enjoyment. I listened to the audiobook as well and it was awesome; I really liked the narrator. The characters of the world of the messengers are outstanding, I truly liked all of them; especially the master of the game. Oriax is an incredible character full of mystery, confusion and sensuality. Maya was really cool too, I'm not sure I liked her all of the time, but still, I loved some details of her attitude, and the role she plays in the story is great. Messenger is, wow! He's an excellent character, he represents a clear example of the queer, intriguing and cute guy who doesn't speak nor smile. I adore him! And it's incredible how the tension of his mystery stays among the reader throughout the whole book, it was really exciting to know a bit of his true-self.
The plot it self was super gripping and interesting. The whole concept is gruesome, odd and dark, but it is also pretty unique. I really read the last sentence with a feeling of pleasure and ease. I enjoyed this as I never imagined I would, and I think that my low hopes were part of what made this installment so much better than the last one.
Profile Image for Lauren Brown.
99 reviews8 followers
December 16, 2018
Man, the ending punched me right in the heart!

The premise for this series is awesome, the supernatural elements are right up my street. My problem with the last book is that it lacked emotion in it. Yes, it included Mara’s emotions as they happened, but as a reader, I didn’t feel any of that. However, this book is a lot more descriptive when it comes to those feelings, it helps connect to the characters. In comparison to the last book, the characters felt a lot more real. Well, at least Messenger, Mara and Oxiax did.

The build up to the ending was great. The way things were left felt satisfying and complete which I appreciate the heck out of because not a lot of books leave me feeling that way.

It’s strange that I had such a reaction to the story coming to an end, but if I were to describe it to someone, I’d say it’s ‘just okay’. The huge philosophical questions that Mara was asking herself during the entirety of the book were supposed to be thought provoking and moving, but it just didn’t. I’m not sure if this is a problem with the writing style or something else entirely. Throughout the whole thing, I felt kind of like a third wheel. While Grant does a better job with sensory descriptions, I still felt at a distance.

Regardless, I’d recommend this book to anyone who like supernatural things.
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