Haunting and mysterious, Bethany Griffin’s first YA novel Masque of the Red Death was a surprise that I never expected. The title, as well as the plot, is inspired by the well-loved short story of the same name written by Edgar Allen Poe. What I really loved about this book was its originality. Although the plot was inspired by another story, it encompassed much more than the original. Bethany Griffin has created a world that combines the devastation of Dystopia with the mysterious nature of eighteenth century surroundings. The corsets, the cobblestone streets, the castles, and the hierarchy all suggest to the reader that they are in a time far from their own, yet this changes when tall skyscrapers appear, and we are taken into an underground club scene that screams twenty first century. It is the mystery surrounding time and place that makes this novel so engrossing.
We follow Araby Worth, a young girl who is fighting against a world that has crumbled around her. A devastating plague has hit the population and while the citizens are desperate to stay healthy, the city goes into ruins around them. Araby knows the disastrous nature of the plague, the way it tore her family apart and created an everlasting rift between Araby and the reality she once coveted. So how does she cope? By escaping. The Debauchery Club is one of the few places where Araby can go to get away from her life and it is within those walls that she meets two very handsome, but very different, young men. Will, the proprietor of the Club and causes Araby to rethink the way she was living her life, making her question her morals. Then there’s Elliot, the aristocrat that causes her to rethink the world that surrounds her, and if it really is possible to live a normal life, away from the plague. It is through these two relationships that Araby discovers that everyone has secrets, even the ones she loves the most.
Bethany has a way of drawing the reader into her world without question, and I have to say that I could not put this book down. It took two of my favorite genres and mixed them with some old school Gothic fiction, which created a novel that many will enjoy. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Dystopian fiction, Gothic literature, and a hint of historical fiction because this book covers all three styles. Please take a chance on this amazing debut, I did and I can say that it was well worth it.
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What did the rest of the blogging community think of Masque of the Red Death?
“Bethany Griffin has created a world where the air you breathe could kill you, oblivion is something people strive for, and the unrest is growing. It will leave you with your breathe held and heart pounding.” — @kathycoe. Read her full review here.
Have you read Masque of the Red Death? Let us know what you thought!