Tuesday, April 3, 2012

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin

Masque of the Red Death
Bethany Griffin

Rating: B+
Release Date: 04/24/12
Synopsis from goodreads.com:
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 on the book:
Griffin has created a horrifying world that draws you in and won't let you go. Masque of the Red Death is a dystopian/steam punk cross between V for Vendetta and the movie Contagion, with a little bit of romance added in. It's full of twists, turns, and surprises. The characters are well-developed and the plot is suspenseful. My only problem with the novel is that I couldn't figure out what time period it was set in. 

As a historian, the lack of a known time period drove me insane at times. They had steam carriages and there was mention of former travel on horses before the plague decimated the entire equine population. However, the building Araby lived in had elevators, they sold florescent necklaces at a celebration, and the masks themselves seemed fairly high tech. Finally, I just told myself that the book was set in a different world all together (which I could convince myself of since there was no city name mentioned) and tried to let it go at that. For the most part it worked, and I was able to enjoy the story. 

Araby is a very depressed girl. She has survivor's guilt from losing her twin brother. For the majority of the novel, I could not figure out what she felt so freaking guilty for, but at the end, it was cleared up for me some. Whether I understood her intense guilt or not, I did have sympathy for her and I cared what happened to her. I wanted her to find her happiness very much, even though it seemed impossible to find any semblance of happiness in a world that's so destroyed. I also absolutely loved Will and Elliot, though I am team Elliot all the way. Up until the last 20% or so, I was all about Will, but I changed my mind at the last minute. April was also a fantastic, multi-dimensional character. None of these characters were stock characters. They were all extremely flawed, but it was clear that they still had good hearts. I cared about what happened to all of them. The villains were obvious, but also they were all kinds of crazy. I was not expecting one villain to be who he actually was, so that was a surprise. It's not very often that a book surprises me, but this one did a few times. 

The plot is suspenseful, and it will keep you guessing. It is depressing at times, but it's also inspiring because Araby and company are fighting to make a place better when it seems like the only thing left to do is give up. The rest of the world has given up, but they keep fighting. People like that are the ones who really make a difference. All of the characters grew over the course of the novel as well. They were able to rise above all of their obstacles to become better people. The ending wrapped a few things up, but all in all, it raised more questions that it supplied answers. I wouldn't go so far to say that it was a cliffhanger, though. I felt like the first part of the characters' journey had come to an end in this novel. Additionally, the pacing is spot-on. The book only lagged a little bit at the beginning, and other than that, it flew by. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves a good dystopian romance. I personally love the political/revolutionary aspect of it (hence the V for Vendetta reference) and I cannot wait to read the second book in this series.  

Want to pre-order Masque of the Red Death?


  1. I already have this on my TBR list, but I may have to bump it up. It looks great, though I understand your frustration about not knowing the time period. My guess, based on your description, is that it is part of the steampunk thing which mixes the victorian era with futuristic stuff, but I could be wrong. I'm not really in the know about that whole trend. Either way, I must read this!

  2. Glad that you enjoyed this book! I loved it I just posted a review about it too. Hopefully you will love the next book more than the first, <3



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