Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review ~ MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, by Bethany Griffin

Masque of the Red Death
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. ~From GoodReads

Set against the backdrop of plague-ridden humanity, MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, is nothing less than stunning. And I would expect no less from a book based on the classic by Edgar Allen Poe. The world has gone to hell. The wealthy wear masks to protect themselves. The poor are left defenseless. Carts roll through the streets collecting bodies. Prince Prosperous rules through fear and intimidation. But when Araby finds the opportunity to help bring about new hope for humanity, can she do it, despite the risks?

Author Griffin paints a morose, depressing, stunning portrait of a world gone nearly mad. I felt utterly entrenched in the story, the stakes involved. The sheer hopelessness and desperation that threaten to overwhelm main character, Araby Worth, is palpable. I found myself covering my own mouth as Araby ventured into the open, dangerous outdoors. I wanted to cover myself in clothes so I couldn't be infected by the Red Death. [sidenote: I tend to get a little too involved in books. My kids, like most little ones, are germy little creatures. But I'm fairly certain they don't carry the plague.]

The social statement of MASQUE was obvious, and relevant.  Much like real-life tyrants (I'm thinking Hussein, Kim Jong-Il), Prince Prospero is living a life of grandiose proportions while the poor suffer. I was struck by the decadence in the midst of chaos. The activities in the Debauchery Club were almost sickening in the face of the disaster outside the doors.
And although I enjoyed the story, I was also bothered. It's a case, though, of "It's Not You, It's Me". The story had to be depressing. It had to be harsh and cruel. But I found myself being drug down into a depressive spiral. I had to take breaks, gain my bearings, and dive back in. That's actually a compliment to Griffin, to her ability to pull readers in and shroud them in the emotions of the characters.

Now for the guys. You know I couldn't leave Will and Elliott out, right? I've seen many, many conversations debating the hotness of Will vs. Elliott. And that's going to cue a mini-rant. *deep breath* Elliott? Come on. Yes, I know he is very emotionally damaged. And he's complicated. But when a guy tells you not to trust him, says he would kill you if it meant gaining an advantage, and goes so far as threatening to prove his point? LISTEN TO HIM. Don't over think it, ladies, or make excuses. Run for the hills and don't look back. Having said that, his character did make strides towards become a less horrible person, but I don't know if I could ever root for him. Ever. Now for Will. Ninety-five percent of the time, I loved him. He was tragic, and beautiful and wonderful. His big flaw is actually not his fault, nothing I could blame him for. Make sense? I didn't think so. :-) So I guess if I had to choose a "Team", I would undoubtedly be "Team Will", but not very enthusiastic.

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH  has all the elements of a hit: tragic, flawed, but engaging characters; a gripping, suspenseful story; strong, beautiful writing. It's an intense story of deception, chaos, love and possible redemption. Ultimately, MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is a book the reading community will love. Of that, I have no doubt.

Favorite Quote:

"One white flower blooms on the vine.

'It only opens at midnight, and only for a few hours, when the full moon is directly overhead. Maybe someone planted it here before the plague, when the world was hopeful. At the end of the day, after  sweeping the floors and cleaning up the vomit, I come here. It reminds me that there are still beautiful things.' "(pg. 105-6, ARC)

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: April 24th 2012 by Harper Collins

You can pre-order Masque of the Red Death at:
Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon

Source: Received for an ARC tour hosted by Southern Book Bloggers. Thanks, ladies!


  1. Masque of the Red Death sounds so good!

  2. Great review! It seems that this book is deep, dark, and depressing. May have to be in a mood before I pick this one up! Thanks

  3. Great review chick!! This was a very dark and depressing book. I thought it was done really well. I too felt like covering my mouth or holding my breath. The descriptiveness really just took me right into the pages of the book.

  4. Nothing makes me crazier than when female MCs are always chasing after the bad boys, especially when they are REALLY bad. I'm supposed to be getting this through the DAC challenge ARC tour and I can't wait! Great review. :D

  5. Everyone is raving about this book but I always had the impression it was a depressing book, I just confirmed it. I still want to read it though.
    I like that you mentioned the social stament. I think that's interesting, I like when a book includes something more, especially this, like the monster behind the scenes. And quite close to reality. (Sadly).

  6. Oooooh this sounds pretty awesome, I'm dying to read it now thanks to your review!!

  7. I like the cover, but I'm not sure if I would like the book. Sounds kind of sad. Great review!

  8. But when a guy tells you not to trust him, says he would kill you if it meant gaining an advantage, and goes so far as threatening to prove his point? LISTEN TO HIM.
    LMAO! Agreed!
    I love the storyline with the masques and disease. It would be sad to be partying it up when outside people are suffering. I haven't read the Poe story this is based off of but his stuff is dark and creepy. It should make for a fabulous read. Plus the cover is awesome!

  9. Every once in a while I come across those books that depress me. And even though hate feeling crummy -- since reading is my escape -- I have to hand it to the authors that can make me feel so much.

    Great review!

  10. I'm glad you loved this one so much. To me it wasn't dark enough, it didn't have enough power behind it to really suck me down into the dark world. I felt it had some good messages about life and living in a time period like this but it just didn't fully come together for me. This probably has to do with the fact that I had just read an awesome adult Urban Fantasy read right before reading this and it just couldn't keep up with what I was expecting. I also wish this one was adult instead of YA that way the author would have been allowed to make the club dark, sexual, and filled with sinister events... in YA you just can't pull that off.

    Ultimately, I'm really glad you enjoyed this one so much and I do agree it is hard to choose between the guys. I loved Will and then he had to go and do what he did at the end. sigh...

    Thanks for the great review. :)

  11. Hmmm... I wonder if I would like this one. I'm not sure I'd read it if I hadn't been getting my daily dose of sunshine, since I don't want to get any more depressed than I need to be. But, I could give it a try. Thanks for the review.

  12. I think our feelings are very similar about this book, Andrea. :) I'm happy you enjoyed it overall! I do hope that we get the answers we're looking for in the sequel, though...

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  13. This book does look good, but like you said, depressing. That worries me. I'll have to read it in small doses if I ever get to it.

    the cover is gorgeous though!

    And the child, my child. I swear I thought she came home with the plague once. I was sure we would all die. Thankfully we are alive to live on fearful it will return some day. lol. I barfed for 8 hours straight. ugh.

    it isn't a comment from me unless I talk about some bodily function. lol

  14. That second quote is lovely! I SO want to read this book :)

  15. Masque of the Red Death picked up some entirely new themes. The main one that stood out to me was the twin theme. One entity represented light and the other darkness, one embodied joy and the other melancholy, and so on. With the opposing twins, there can only be one, and a choice must be made (or made for you). This most certainly applied to Miss Araby Worth on many levels.

    There were some romantic elements and a bit of a love triangle in the story, but it was all so overshadowed by the decaying city that it was not obnoxious or overwhelming. The romance was never unbelievable (if that is possible in a dystopian, apocalyptic novel), and Griffin does not use it as a crutch. Both boys have many strengths, and Araby herself is such a bewitching character that it makes it plausible for both boys to fall in love with her. However, should Araby choose not to stick with Elliot, he is welcome in my home at any time.


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