Thursday, May 10, 2012

Book Review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
My thoughts:
I had heard nothing but amazing things about Masque of the Red Death before I started reading it, and I am a huge fan of Edgar Allan Poe and his twisted stories, even if I had not read the original Masque of the Red Death. This is not a traditional retelling, but a reimagining of the original story, meaning that it’s based on the same world, but without actually telling the same story. I loved how effortlessly Griffin managed this, and how she turned Poe’s world into her own.

Masque of the Red Death had me caught in its debauchery from the very start. There is something dark and ominous about the writing, from the descriptions of the corpse collectors to the characters’ fear of breathing without a mask. It is unlike anything I have read in YA before, and shows just how talented Griffin is. And most importantly, the writing sets the mood for Araby’s story, which is not an easy one.

Araby is not a perfect person. She has made some choices to be ashamed of, she’s living with the guilt of something that happened in her past, she is trying to stay in a constant state of oblivion as to not have to think about the world around her. Still she is doing her best to survive in a world so bleak and empty of hope that I personally was impressed that she managed to keep going. I loved how she went from passively existing in this world to really taking charge of things, trying to help in any way possible. Because the Araby you meet on the first pages is not the same girl as the one you’ll leave behind when you close the book.

I really liked the other characters as well, from charmingly down-to-earth Will who’s doing what he can to take care of his family, to arrogant and confident Elliott (the character who probably goes through the biggest change out of anyone in this story), to Araby’s seemingly superficial friend April, Elliott’s sister. I’m especially impressed with how Griffin managed to make me like both of the boys in their own ways, without it ever feeling like a love triangle.

There is a good chance that Masque of the Red Death will keep haunting you for quite a while, long after you’ve read the last page. (And if you’re like me, after you’ve rushed to check when the sequel will be out. I can save you the trouble; it won’t be out until 2013.) This was an amazing start to a new series, and yet it totally worked as a story on its own as well. Yes, I am dying to find out what happens next, but it is not one of those slow first books that takes forever to set the scene for the characters. This is without question one of my favorite books so far this year, and I have a feeling it will be a hard one to top.

Gorgeous! I love the colors used, and even if it is a girl in a pretty dress, it looks nothing like the other covers out there.

My rating of this book:

Want to know more?
Add Masque of the Red Death to your Goodreads wish list
Visit Bethany Griffin's website
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Full disclosure:
ARC received from NetGalley

This book can be purchased from a number of local retailers and online book stores like Amazon and The Book Depository (I'm not an affiliate of either). The latter store has free shipping to about 100 countries.


  1. I like to read about it but I probab ly wouldn't read the book myself. The subject matter as you say, is haunting!

  2. I want to read this a lot. Basically because of the fact that it's based on Masque of Red Death, which is like THE short story that made me fall in love with English and writing. Love the cover, and your review is just awesome- I like your depth. Have a great day.

  3. It sounds so cool! I want to read it for that alone :D

  4. Great review Nina! I really have been wanting a haunting book lately...and this one is coming in for me at the library very soon! I'm so excited to experience it and I'm hoping it'll be a 2012 favorite as well! :D

    Sierra @ Yearning to Read

  5. Masque of Red Death sounds fantastic. You and your reviews are terrible for my book budget. ;)

  6. Masque of the Red Death was really refreshing to me, I loved the darkness surrounding it! I can't wait to see it on my shelf - hopefully alongside it's sequels!

    =^.^= ComaCalm's Corner =^.^=

  7. Sounds like such a good updating of a classic


Thank you for sharing your thoughts =)