Monday 20 August 2012

The Masque of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin

The Masque of the Red Death – Bethany Griffin

Pages: 319
Publisher: Indigo (Orion)
Release Date: 2nd August 2012
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who survived 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 so many tantalizing ways to escape from it all.

But in the depths of the Debauchery Club – in the depths of her own despair – Araby is going to find more than oblivion. He’s called Will, the handsome, mysterious proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is quite 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.

The Masque of the Red Death is a vivid and atmospheric post-apocalyptic novel with a twist.

As well as living in a world suffering the ravages of plague, Araby also seems to be in the remains of Victorian society. This mix of post-apocalypse and historical fiction is one I’ve never come across before, but it really, really works. This clever move on Bethany Griffin’s part brings a sense of darkness and threat with the dingy streets of an unnamed city, it felt a little like London to me though, and the disease-ridden poor. The city provided the perfect backdrop to the Debauchery Club and Araby’s broken and fragile state.

Araby herself is a fascinating character. From the very beginning she is encased in self-inflicted mental torment and is searching for complete oblivion, but with one exception: she won’t allow herself any physical contact with anyone. No holding hands, no kissing, no hugging. It’s all in the name of preserving her dead twin’s memory and not experiencing anything he didn’t get the chance to. It’s utterly heartbreaking and I was desperate for her to just let go and sink into Will’s arms. 

The blurb of The Masque of the Red Death promised a love triangle between two gorgeous, mysterious boys and I was anticipating being torn between Will and Elliott. I wasn’t. I didn’t really like Elliott, I mean, I could understand Araby’s material attraction to him, but he just wasn’t very stable, or very nice. Will captured my heart immediately and didn’t let go. I loved how he wasn’t purely a love interest. He had his own motives and did things that a traditional love interest might not do, but his character was followed flawlessly.

Masks are a common theme in literature, but are rarely literal. In The Masque of the Red Death the masks worn by those who can afford them to protect them from breathing in the plague and give them all an air of mystery and intrigue. They worked nicely against the attacks on the city and the attempts to take it from Prince Prospero anonymously. There was also the sense of never really knowing someone which I really liked. Wow, my English Lit came out there. Sorry!

I absolutely adored Bethany Griffin's debut and I can’t wait to get stuck into book two, Dance of the Red Death.

For my 2012 Debut Author Challenge, Dystopian YA Challenge 2012 and 2012 YA Historical Fiction Challenge.



  1. So glad you loved this one, it's almost at the top of my pile of books to read soon..

  2. Sounds really cool - even a little English Lit learnings coming in there!

  3. I really loved this one too, great review! :)

  4. Crocodiles, bats, masquerade balls, poisonings, treason, some romance, lots of action, icky diseases, and an awesome world? Whats not to love?

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