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Masque of the Red Death

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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 around them. So what does Araby Worth have to live for? Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . 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 is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does. And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

319 pages, Hardcover

First published April 24, 2012

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About the author

Bethany Griffin

8 books961 followers
Bethany Griffin teaches high school English and creative writing.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,768 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,636 reviews34k followers
March 27, 2012
Ah, steampunk libertines! Who'd have thought they'd be so appealing?

Books that are heavily influenced by classic stories are always tricky, particularly when it's as ambitious an undertaking as a story inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe classic. I loved the lavish setting and moodiness of the original story, so I had my doubts that anything could come close to capturing its crazy vibe. But somehow Bethany Griffin has managed to create a very similarly dark, extravagant feeling in her gothic adaptation, which is a surprisingly compelling read.

Seventeen-year-old Araby Worth lives in a world devastated by plague. Haunted by the death of her twin brother Finn, she and her friend April spend their nights attending opulent club parties, trying to lose themselves in pleasure so they can forget the what's going on around them. In this atmosphere of dissipation and discontent, she meets the reckless Elliott, the nephew of the mad Prince Prospero who controls the city, and Will, a boy who works at the Debauchery Club who is desperately trying to take care of his little brother and sister. Through her association with them, she is shaken out of her numb acceptance of the world she lives in, and learns that she just might hold the key to saving countless lives.

I fully admit that my overall liking for the book is fairly reliant upon the extravagant world that the author created, but that's not necessarily a bad thing when it's such an important part of adapting Poe. I was mesmerized by: the visuals of porcelain masks that protect the wealthy from the contamination which were invented by Araby's scientist father; disease-carrying bats; zeppelins in the sky; nights of debauchery; tattered velvet dresses; the threat of death by crocodile. I also liked the central story line involving a plan to steal blueprints for the masks so they might be distributed to the poor, and the romance had enough substance to keep me interested, too.

Things that should have driven me crazy but didn't: first person, present tense; a love triangle, mostly because it keeps you guessing for the most part and doesn't always go the expected route; recreational drug use, because it fits in with the story; modern slang mixed in with a historical-ish style; the vow Araby takes to avoid all pleasures that Finn will never get to experience. I do wish that we'd gotten a little further along in the central plot to undermine Prince Prospero, however, as well as in Araby's relationships with...well, everyone, since it seems as though there is a lot of buildup, and then the book ends just as things are really starting to get interesting. And I wish that the choice Araby makes towards the end was a little more meaningful . I think she's a girl who is just discovering who she is for the first time, however, so I don't mind that we don't really know her all that well yet. She shows the promise of being a strong, take-action sort of heroine, and I'm hoping that we'll see her character, as well as everyone else's, further developed in the sequel.

I really liked Masque of the Red Death (much more than I enjoyed Nevermore, by the way) and I'm dying to see what happens next. Readers who don't mind a slower, more literary style will like this book, and I think most Poe fans will be happy with it, too. The story pays homage to the original story but doesn't adhere to it too slavishly, instead expanding on the world and imagining what would happen if it were a teenage girl that was caught up in the baroque madness. This strange mix of dystopian-steampunk-gothic-romance works really well here, in no small part because the author does such a beautiful job in creating a decadent, imaginative world for the characters--and us--to lose ourselves in.

This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

Inspiration Behind the Story

If you aren't familiar with Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death, by the way, it's a masterpiece in drama, tension, and symbolism. Read the story online and compare it to this one--I think it actually makes you appreciate what Bethany Griffin did even more.
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
May 19, 2019
i am unable to see magic eye puzzles. whether it is my astigmatism or whatever is miswired in my brain that was giving me that off-brand epilepsy some years back, i am not able to get the same joy as others out of those things.

but i enjoy the enjoyment of others.

and i was really excited to find this on the free shelves at work, knowing that other people had really loved it.

but for me, it wasn't a home run. i don't see it.

the premise is great - it is not a retelling of poe's story, but it borrows some of his visuals. in poe, a plague has ravaged the city, and a wealthy prince gathers together a number of his privileged elite, who lock themselves into his castle and party like only the entitled can, bravely and optimistically, believing themselves immune to the fate that awaits us all. they are incorrect.

here, we have a similar dichotomy: unfortunate people dying in the street from plague with corpse-collectors at the ready

while the wealthy who can afford masques with air-filtration capabilities travel in steam-powered carriages in all their corsetted finery to nightclubs where they seek oblivion in drink, drugs, and casual sex.

araby, our heroine, is part of the masque-class only because her scientist-father invented the things. she spent years living underground with her twin brother and mother while people up top died horribly, so she has a different perspective than those born to their golden-bubble status. she has seen some shit.and after her brother dies, she gets sucked into a depression where all she wants is to not feel anything.

after getting caught in a suicide attempt (oops, how embarrassing) by april, the prince's niece, she begins to go to these nightclubs with her,and more often than not ends up passed out somewhere after indulging in a syringe full of oblivion.

on the one hand, i applaud the balls - that we have come so far in YA lit that our heroine can be a suicidal teenager with a drug problem, and not just the occasional joint - she is mainlining. suck it, joel stein! i also like her noli me tangere attitude: she feels such guilt over the death of her brother, that she vows not to ever experience anything he did not have a chance to, so physical intimacy is right out. apparently, though, it is okay for her to do drugs, go to nightclubs, dye her hair, wear glitter...it is a vow filled with holes, but she does try to stay away from physical expression of attraction. until she realizes she is in a YA novel, so there has to be a love triangle.

one of the boys is a working class dreamboat, mopping up vomit and administering plague-tests at the nightclub to support his two younger siblings so he can afford to buy them plague masques of their very own. the other is april's brother, an idealistic revolutionary, who gives araby drugs and tries to encourage her to assist him in his planned revolt against his uncle, the prince, to bring power to the people.

how is a vow-burdened girl to choose?

i just didn't find her character as compelling as her potential. she was so easily led, so trusting. i appreciate that she always wants to do the right thing, but she is so impulsive that it frequently comes across as gullible.take a minute, araby your brother didn't get to do that, after all.

i thought the setting was well done, but if you are going to give your world the additional threat of genetically-modified giant bats intended to eat plague-carrying mosquitoes which have gone rogue...well, more than just a passing mention would be nice. let's see some bat-on-human action!

there is so much of this world i do not understand, but to question it here would amount to spoilers, and i know that even if i put them in a spoiler tag, you people will be all christmas-morning present-shakers - the allure of the spoiler tag is too great.

for maureen: this book was like cotton candy. it is one of the most beautiful ARCs i have ever seen - the sheen, the font, the colors - it is beautiful. but like cotton candy, it feels insubstantial. it melts in your mouth and leaves you with so many unanswered questions (where does cotton candy go???), and you kind of wish you had eaten a rib-sticking caramel apple instead.

i wish i had loved this book as much as i loved wendy darling's review of it. i wish i had lyndsey's enthusiasm for it. but my eyes, they just don't see it.

but i will read the next one, obviously. if only for the hope of a bat.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
May 8, 2012
I really hate being a constant Debbie Downer, but, this is another throwaway, unfortunately. I've been unlucky with my book picks lately, as you can tell.

So, Masque of the Red Death. Conceptually interesting and, might I say, stylish - plague, porcelain masques, corsets, steam carriages, debauchery.

But why must it be, essentially, just like every other book that's been published in the genre over the last year or so? I've lost count of how many times I've read the same elements of this story: a heroine, in a dazed, catatonic state, mourning her brother; her obvious love interest, a debauchery club bouncer (there was NO debauchery in the first 50 pages!) for some unknown reason drags her unconscious body to his poor house, so that she can wake up in his bed and admire his tats; she is suddenly stricken by realization of how poor and unfortunate his family is while she is a rich girl; she is jealous of her new flame within hours, because the guy is just so nice and family-oriented; and of course there is absolutely no chance she will kiss the dream-boy, because, of course, there is a huge, massive obstacle in a form of her vow never to indulge in such thing because, you know, her brother is dead...

Let me put some guesses of future plot development out there: there is going to be a love triangle (that handsome guy who supplied the MC with drugs wasn't there for no reason, right? he is probably rich); there is going to be some rebellion (otherwise, the poor guy and his underfed siblings wouldn't be in the book); there is going to be a discovery of a plague cure and fight to give it to the least fortunate. Did I get it right, or wrong? Spoil it for me, please.

Is it unreasonable to expect some originality, some new events and situations and characters and voices that haven't been written so many times already?
Profile Image for Lyndsey.
126 reviews3,188 followers
March 5, 2012
Masque of the Red Death is oh so deliciously dark and twisty!

4.5 stars!

I adore dark, fantastical and overly dramatic stories. Who's with me? Let's go kick some flying monkeys, everyone! Kidding, kidding. Please guys, treat your flying monkeys with respect. Oz just wouldn't be as much fun without them.

The Rundown

Araby Worth lives in a chilling death-ridden world, where every day is a struggle to keep from contracting a deadly plague. Dead bodies litter the streets and air-filtering masks are necessary to keep the plague at bay. A villanous Prince rules the area but lives outside the threats that exist within the more poulated areas. Araby spends most of her time out in a club named Debauchery and encounters two sexy and mysterious boys. Yet even more mysterious is what's going on in the city. Rumors of an uprising threaten the safety of those within the city and then the attacks begin. Annnnnnd, love triangles and villainy ensue. Whoohoo! Damn, this is a difficult book to summarize.

The Cover

I really appreciate when the publishers put so much love into even the advance copy of the book. The cover looks beautiful in the photo but in real life it is outstandfendupulosus! Don't even ask me what that means but, I kid you not, it's exactly the word I think of when I look at this cover. Because a "real" word just wouldn't do it justice.

Lately, a lot of books with gorgeous covers haven't been quite as beauteous on the inside. So I was expecting to not like this one. When I would look at it on my shelf, I could picture myself reading it in the future and clearly see the disappointed look on future me's face when it turned out to be less-than-outstandfendupulosus. (Also, I think that if Richard Simmons was a dinosaur, outstandfendupulosus would totally be his scientific name.)

The Characters

This book reads like a crazy twisted dark cartoon version of dystopian gothic fiction. The characters are over-the-top and full of dramatic intrigue.

I fell for every one of the characters. They all have a delightful mix of good and evil. Except for the villians who are so fantastically evil, almost cartoonishly evil, that it makes you want to yell "Prepare for trouble! Make it double!" As for the other characters, glorious shades of gray and questionable actions fill the pages of this book. Moral ambiguity, yay!!

I am enamored with Araby. I don't love that she seems committed to remaining chaste at the start, but I do love her reason. It's not based on religion or peer pressure but a real complex emotional stance, and that is all I'll say for now.

The love triangle is my absolute favorite of recent books. Like Araby, I had a hard time choosing where my loyalties are and jumped back and forth between the two. Neither guy is exactly the hero type, not the kind you'd take home to your mom, but that's what I loved about them. She truly cares for both of the boys and doesn't lead either of them on just for the heck of it.

Who loves bad boys? Lyndsey loves bad boys! I do, I do, I do-OO. If you like bad boys, you'll love the two love interests in this book. If you like love triangles, you'll love to hate making a decision between these two guys.

The Pacing and World-Building

This isn't heavy on the steampunk or the dystopia, but there are lights elements of both weaved throughout the world. If anything, I'd consider this "gothic" instead of "steampunk." It's definitely a colorful and dramatic tale.

In the beginning, I was luh-huuuuurving the pace. I was thinking that there was no way way this wouldn't end up being a favorite. Then in the middle it began to lull a bit. Still a constant forward motion, just a little more slow going than in the beginning. I started to have some doubts, but it kicked into high gear toward the end. What a thrill ride!

I've been itching to reread this ever since I finished and that doesn't happen to me often! Don't they have a lotion for this? It's driving me crazy! MUST. REREAD.

The Verdict

I haven't been this excited about a first book in a series since Divergent. The world-building is extravagant and consuming. The pacing is even and exciting. It's such a compulsive read. I felt compelled to keep reading and compelled to reread. I still do.

I've been trying to write this review for a while. Trying to make sure I properly express my excitement over this book. I haven't been able to get it out of my mind since I finished and have had a hard time with other books because I want them to be as much fun as this one!

Masque of the Red Death is a stunningly dark novel by Bethany Griffin. It's a whimsical mix of gothic dystopia, brought together with gorgeous prose and intriguing characters.

In short, I LOVED it. Wheeeeeee! Fun fun fun.
Shelved as 'fantasy-wishlist'
June 12, 2023
Rereading this because I found the author's House of Usher retelling while thrifting and it reminding me of how much I love her writing style. I never read the sequel because the library didn't have it and I'm excited to read them back to back because the YA goth scene so rarely disappoints.
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.3k followers
August 9, 2012
Masque of the Red Death took a lot of risks. Firstly, it was based on Poe’s title of the same name. And as every­one knows, gen­er­ally you just don’t go mess­ing with Poe.

Poe with Skeleton

All I’m say­ing is that shortly before this was taken, that skele­ton was alive and very apologetic, but ultimately doomed.

Sec­ondly, it’s a young adult novel that fea­tures drugs, sex and alco­hol. Thirdly, the pro­tag­o­nist, Araby Worth, is suicidal.

After fin­ish­ing it, it doesn’t feel like a novel that I nec­es­sar­ily need to talk about. I really enjoyed it. Dun­can, an edi­tor at Harper Collins, said in the for­ward, “We think Bethany Grif­fin is a star­tling and fresh voice in teen fiction.”

Well, I’ll give them that. I thought Griffin’s writ­ing was well-crafted and strong. She has con­trol over her prose and uses them to great effect through­out the novel.

Masque of the Red Death con­tains that dreaded crea­ture – the love tri­an­gle. Curse it! But it was not hor­ri­fy­ingly painful. As a reader, it’s not some­thing I enjoy and I don’t think it added much of value to this novel – but nor did it cause my eye to bleed and my inter­nal organs to explode, so I think it can mostly be for­given – though the rela­tion­ship aspect does take up a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of this story where I would have pre­ferred, per­haps, to spend more time focus­ing on the polit­i­cal intrigue or intense plot­ting than over which boy may or may not kiss her.

Kanye West interrupting the plot
Plot, I’m going to let you fin­ish in a minute. But this kiss scene is going to hap­pen now.

Char­ac­ter­i­za­tion in this novel is a tightrope over Nia­gra Falls dif­fi­culty set­ting and I think Grif­fin may just have pulled it off. Araby was the most dif­fi­cult char­ac­ter of all. Not just because she was sui­ci­dal and depressed and mopy, but because she has a lot of dif­fi­cult deci­sions to make and most of them impact on the world she’s in. There’s this uncom­fort­able feel­ing that a sui­ci­dal junkie may not be the per­son I’d want to place my hopes in, but some­how I think her warm heart and gen­er­ous spirit bal­anced it out.

The two love inter­ests, what can I say? It’s the usual toss up between Bad Boy and Ol’ Reli­able. But Grif­fin gives a good twist on this and actu­ally makes the rela­tion­ships an inter­est­ing dynamic. The prob­lem was that they occa­sion­ally inter­rupted the pacing.

Steampunk guy
Excuse me, ma’am. Mind if I hijack your story pac­ing?
Image by Avidel

Enjoy­able and highly read­able – I look for­ward to the next one!

This review was also posted on my blog, Cuddlebuggery Book Blog
757 reviews2,349 followers
October 10, 2017
honestly? What the fuck did I just read? I'm 100% confused but I've never been so invested and eager to read on about something I don't fucking get. Idk everything seemed to jump from scene to scene without any explanation and I just liked it. There's shitty romance and characters, but the plot's intriguing though it confused me.

3.75 stars.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,355 followers
May 18, 2012
Masque of the Red Death has been my most anticipated book of the year since I discovered it last September. I was obviously first attracted to it by its cover, followed by its premise that talks of a gothic setting, a plague apocalypse, and a Debauchery club… need I say more?

As far as steampunk novels go, this is easily my favorite. I absolutely loved the atmosphere throughout the story. The ruined city, the dangers in the streets, the masks, the disease; it's dark and it's dreary, with intricate details that had me truly envisioning this world in disrepair, full of mortality. The always present danger of this easily contracted death is palpable. It gave me shivers and made me cringe. Bethany clearly did not falter in her world building. Its unwavering somber ambiance constantly propels us in a dying world so different from our own, yet, frighteningly not inconceivable.

Inside this disintegrating world lives Araby. Living with the guilt of losing her twin brother, she's dealing with her grief in form of punishment by not experiencing life to its fullest. Or at least, nothing Finn didn't get the chance to. This, to me, was incredibly sad. I felt sorry for her especially because she is blinded by her despair; incapacitated. However, when she meets Will with his gorgeous looks, and Elliott with his master plans, things start to improve. Both of these guys are full of charm; even through my misgivings, I kept a liking for both of them. Their vast differences make them both terribly appealing, while their intentions left me with unabated curiosity and doubt.

I would not consider this a very fast paced book. Nevertheless, the prose kept me completely mesmerized along with the vastly detailed world and likeable characters. The writing is noticeably elegant; the beautiful flow creates an experience where a fast pace is not necessary to enjoy its execution. But I still wouldn't have minded digging a little deeper inside the fundamental plot line instead of only getting twists (albeit fascinating) that lead to a big foreshadowing of what's to come.

Since I haven't read Edgar Allen Poe's original work, I can't comment on the comparison, but I was positively impressed with Bethany Griffin's Masque of the Red Death: an exquisitely woven tale both lavish and ominous.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Willow .
236 reviews102 followers
April 1, 2013
There's a part of me that thinks maybe I've been too hard on this, but I'm going to let the two star review stand.

Araby Worth is the teenage daughter of a brilliant scientist who lives in the ritzy part of a plague city. Most nights she goes out with her vapid friend April to the exclusive Debauchery Club to do drugs and walk around. All the rich people wear masks and travel in steamcoaches to protect them from disease, while the poor wallow in dead bodies.

This story is mostly about Araby running around with drug dealer and nutcase, Elliot, as he talks about overthrowing his evil Uncle Prospero. Why Araby thinks Elliot will be a better ruler than Prospero is beyond me, but she decides to throw in with him and betray her father. I suppose she validates this because she feels unloved by her parents. Her father has been distant ever since her brother died.

But this is the main problem I had with Araby. She’s a shallow, self-absorbed slime. I have little sympathy for someone who puts her family in danger for no real concrete reason. It’s not like she ever trusts Elliot either. She knows he’s psycho. So when she’s puts her faith in him, it just makes her look stupid. And when she tells herself she’s just helping Elliot to save April, you know she’s full of crap.

Does a heroine have to be likable for me to like a book? I hope not. It’s kind of nauseating though when the author tries to make her shallow heroine look sympathetic by having her mourn a lost brother. Araby uses that brother too as an excuse for not being intimate. Toward the end, during the exciting climax, Araby finally reveals the horrible story about how her brother died, and I’m thinking, what? You’re going to talk about this now during an action scene?

Despite that one big reveal, there are few answers in this book. Details about the plague, Araby’s father, and the evil Prospero are left vague, with shocking tidbits thrown in here and there, nothing conclusive. How the plague is passed around and how long it’s infected the city is a mystery. Araby’s father is a mystery. What makes it even worse, Araby steals her father’s journal and carries it around with her through half the book. This book has answers. You'd think she'd be dying to read it. Does she? Hell no. Why? I have no frickin’ clue! She has plenty of chances. I guess she likes being in the dark. As a reader though, you want to reach through the book and smack her.

There’s of course a love triangle, which I didn’t really care about. If Araby falls for Elliot she has rocks in her head. Consequently, I’m convinced she will end up with him.

The world is nonsensical and gothy with girls dressed in red corsets and men decorated in swirling tattoos. Elaborate tunnels (built for absolutely no reason) are under the city and lead to the castle. Plague infested bats hide in the nooks and crannies of the city. My favorite is the carriers that live in marshes. They’re kind of like zombies, covered in weeping sores filled with pus, who stare at Araby along the shore. I kept asking myself, isn’t a true carrier someone who doesn’t get infected, yet passes the disease? But hey that’s not important.

Yet with all this fun, you’re probably wondering, why didn’t I enjoy this book? I will tell you. It was because the story is not compelling and it was sloppy. None of the world building was given any real thought. Griffin’s world consists of nothing but gothy pictures, like the kind you'd find from a tarot deck. Good steampunk should offer an alternative timeline, delectable gadgets and enlightening revelations. This book has none of that. There’s no substance. Plus the book didn’t end. I’m getting tired of YA books that do this. Grrrr

Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 8 books2,708 followers
February 1, 2012
We’ve all read the Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe. But have you ever wondered what kind of state the world would have to be in for such a tale to take place?
In Bethany Griffin’s gripping novel (which shares its title with Poe’s story) we are swept into the inner-workings of a bleak realm. The world has been devestated by a fierce contagion. Everyone must wear masks. Everyone is at risk.
I adored this novel and I’m still reeling from the last few chapters especially. Part Steampunk, part dystopian and part romantic intrigue, it’s the absolute best of all three worlds. And despite the presence of two SUPREMELY hot guys, I think my most favorite aspect of Masque is its wonderfully complex, heartrending and compelling heroine—Araby.
Shift this one to the top of your to-read stack when it hits the shelf YA readers and Poe fans. It is not to be missed.
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,654 reviews386 followers
July 4, 2020
Can I get the sequel to this ASAP please?

This is one of those books where I wasn't expecting too much because I bought it so cheap. So it actually surprised me how addictive it was!

I've read Poe's The Masque of the Red Death (and re-read before reading this) and always wanted MORE so finding this book was exactly what I needed. Poe created such a fantastic setting then stiffed us with the characters, so here we finally get to experience it a bit more ourselves.

The plot: COVID-19 A mysterious virus runs rampant across the country, and has already killed half the population. The disease is messy and works fast so people have become accustomed to wearing masks to ensure their safety. Some live underground if they don't have a mask. No one protests wearing them, even though they hate wearing them, because they understand that living is more important than complaining. Anyhoo, so Araby is a big fan of using drugs to forget her problems, but then she meets a guy claiming to want to change the world. There is also a sexy guy with tattoos who I am definitely in love with, even if Araby is less certain.

I'm a sucker for tattoos in real life, so give me a dark haired, tattooed, mysterious man and I'm basically hooked straight away. Whereas Elliott I hated from the start because he's arrogant and bossy and treats Araby like crap. Plus he tears a book and that's pretty unforgivable, in my opinion.

Araby is a heroine I could get behind. Sure, she has some unhealthy coping mechanisms, and an unhealthy need for approval, but she's not a sucker. She can see when she's being played, and when she says no she means it and if you don't hear it it's your own fault, pal. I really loved how she stuck to her guns, but still grows as a character.

The story itself is admittedly a little weak, because the world is chaos and Araby is mostly running around with or for these two handsome fellows. At the start she seems like a spoilt rich kid, but it's never really developed before she's pulled into the worlds of these two men. Elliott has plans up his sleeves, but it's hard to pinpoint exactly what he's going for, and why. Will gets forgotten for a little bit, which made me sad. Then you've got rumours of the prince but it's hard to establish his personality because it's all talk and we don't meet him til later in the book. The disease is running rampant, but it's not clear who is in charge of the city, or what is going on. It seems like it's supposed to be a 'this is how we live now' kinda vibe but there's too much chaos for that to sit right. People are dying all over the place, but 'all over the place' is limited to Araby's world - the places she goes - without much reference to the rest of the city/country/world. It's all very vague.

Poe's story is skimpy on details as well, but it's condensed into the extravagance of the castle, which keeps it tight and intriguing. Knowing how it ends, I was totally waiting for this to end dramatically, but it turns out there's a sequel I can get my hands on so I'll definitely be hunting for that.

Summary: The story itself is a little vague and weakly explored, but the characters made up for it for me. I found it all to be quite unpredictable, and Araby was a great heroine to follow, which combined to make this a really addictive read. It's dark, but it's a lot of fun, too, somehow. I'd recommend for YA lovers looking for something a little different.
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,982 followers
May 16, 2012
I was the first person ever to breathe through a mask.

Imagine living in a world where the most important thing you need to survive is also the very same thing that could take your life.
"I need some fresh air."
"Then by all means, go outside. If it doesn't clear your head, it will probably kill you."

Araby lives among the sick and dying. The only thing which separates her from the less fortunate is her accessibility to the air-filtering masks which are credited for sustaining life. Most people would trade places with the girl who has food, shelter, and clean air. For Araby, these amenities are only prolonging the terror and sorrow. She sees the pain of loss and smells the stench of the dead. She lives in fear of touch - not only from the rotting hands of those who are infected, but also from the clean hands of those who care for her. What she fears the most is living a life that was not meant for her to live.

As the contagion grows, a city in ruin divides its loyalties. There are three players rallying for control : The prince in command, The religious fanatic spreading propaganda, and a young man named Elliot who has personal reasons to want to overthrow the other two opponents.

Being the daughter of the man who invented the life-saving masks, Araby is of interest to all of the power-players involved. Unsure who to trust, she holds tight to her newest ally - a friend from the dark nightclub she frequents. But is her heart (and life) safe with him?

Masque of the Red Death is one of those books which is going to make me sit and think about what's to come. This story is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's short story of the same name, but with a few different plot twists. If I follow through in my mind what happens in Masque, as well as the following story of The Cask of Amontillado, then I am a bit worried about what is up ahead. However, I have the feeling that this author is going to take what we might already know and turn everything on its ear.

The setting, the characters, the story...all of it was beautifully drawn, if death and destruction could ever be described as such. I found myself torn between the steadfastness of Will and the passion of Elliot. Both characters hold secrets and both are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect their causes. For Will, it's his family. For Elliot, it's his vision. I could see why Araby would be intrigued by either of them. I appreciated how I was left wondering who would end up being the most trustworthy of the two. As of right now, there is no clear cut answer. One highlight of the book is a scene in which one of the young men dangles our female lead over crocodile infested water. On purpose. Ah, young love. Isn't it grand?

Thankfully, the story went much deeper than just another tale of, "which boy should I choose?" I felt like the love triangle was merely a byproduct of the environment and need to survive. There was no time to sit around and contemplate which male might be the dreamiest, or the sweetest, or some other fluffy thing that might have sidetracked us from the intent of the book.

I will be anxiously awaiting the second installment of this series. There is too much left undone that I want to know now. Who will live and who will die? What is to become of this world in chaos? Will there ever come a time when the masques are no longer needed? It will be far too long until I get a chance to find out!

Profile Image for Crystal Starr Light.
1,357 reviews831 followers
January 31, 2022
First off, I'd like to thank the magnificent Willowfaerie for her magnificent review of this...erm...book that inspired me to get off my @$$ and finally review this Amazon Vine ARC.

Secondly, I was PLAUGED with this book from Amazon Vine. I couldn't find a MASQUE anywhere that could PREVENT this DISEASE.

Thirdly, while I have adopted a new 25% rule, I didn't use it on this book for two reasons. Number 1, I like to make an effort to read Vine books all the way through, and Number 2, I was too engrossed by the WTF in this book to give up.

With that out of the way...

OH. MY. GOD! This book was dreadful. My 100+ status updates (filled with gif spam) can kinda of show the mind-numbingly awfulness of this book. I almost don't know where to begin.

No, wait, I do. Araby Worth...LESS. Araby is our protagonist, our main character. I would call her a "heroine", but she's more like "heroin". There is very little redeemable or likeable or even just interesting about her.

In the agonizing beginning half, she whines about EVERYTHING. She hates on her "best friend", April (who, BTW, is by far one of the best characters in this book). She complains about her friend saving her from jumping - and then whines when a boy she likes saves her out of obligation. She whines that her dad hates her - and then he takes her on a walk, or gives her a poetry book, or basically looks the other way as she proceeds to betray him and expose him to his enemies. She hates on her mother, whom she considers "pathetic" and "weak". She whines about the death of her brother. Oh, and she makes really odd promises - such as not to experience anything her brother won't. Which might not seem to weird until you start realizing the rules. Sex and kissing is off-limits; drug use and wearing corsets apparently is OK (Hey, maybe Finn would have wanted to wear a whalebone corset, who knows?!). Honestly, I wasn't surprised at the vow; I was more surprised at how it was so general, but then applied only to the specific instance of kissing or having sex - very convenient for sexual tension, eh?

And "sexual tension" there is. In spades. Because like ALL Young Adult books - paranormal, urban fantasy, dystopians, and all the books, such as this one, that try to pass off as any of the previous ones - HAS to have a Romantic Triangle. AT LEAST.

The two carboard cutouts - I MEAN!! - romantic interests that plague - POPULATE! - this novel are BoyToy1 (Will) and BoyToy2 (Elliott). (I refuse to acknowledge they have names and "character".) They are basically the only characters that Araby ever respects or trusts or believes - even when she claims she doesn't trust or believe them. The only real difference between the two is that BT1 has two CUTE ADORABLE WIDDLE siblings - you know, to show how kind-hearted and tender and caring he is, while also providing some much needed DRAMAZ over masques and sh!t - and the other is a pyschopath. No really - he dangles Araby over crocodile-infested waters and tells her that, while he may be falling in love with her, he would totally feed her to the crocs, because Rebellion before broads, man. I mean, wouldn't YOU TOTES fall in love with a guy like that? (Oh, right, she doesn't "love" BT2 - she just MIGHT be believing/trusting him. While she listens to his every order and never asks any questions and basically lets him push her around. Yeah, I'm not buying that either.) But he has SCARS! He was held prisoner by his uncle, Prospero! He was ABUSED! Therefore, he needs a little woman to make all his boo-boos go away and feel better!

More of this book is dedicated to Araby being with one of these lifeless hunks of manflesh than to any "dystopia" or "steampunk". In fact, there are several wasted pages with Araby and Will basically playing house with his CUTE WIDDLE siblings (who don't act like any children I've ever seen before). All while her mother has been captured and her father is in hiding. Because the best time to snuggle up to BT1 while wearing his shirt to sleep in is when your family is missing!

Oh, God, the villains. God, the villains. I swear, Prospero and the Reverend came from "Dummies Guide to Villains". The only way to make them worse would be to have them twirl their mustaches and chuckle, as they kicked a sick puppy down a staircase into crocodile-infested waters. Seriously. Prospero even has villain teeth - nice and stained.

But - and I know this is hard to believe - I didn't hate all the characters. Mother, Father, and April were actually my favorites. Mother I felt was misunderstood. In actuality, I see her as a tough woman (we find out that she went through a lot of crap and didn't burden her worthLESS daughter with the details). She worries over her daughter, whom she sees is in pain, but she doesn't know how to help her. So she does her best with the tools at hand. (Not to mention, she's probably also coping with Finn's death?) Father was awesome; he's that bad @$$ absent-minded professor. He really cares about his daughter, but he blames himself for all the deaths and the death of his son, so he locks himself away physically and emotionally. When he does try to reach out to his daughter, his daughter is so locked in herself, she just shuts him down. And then there's April. I didn't think I'd add her to my favorite characters, but when she makes quips about the redness of her lipstick and then shoulders a musket and fires down a ladder on an airship and HITS the guy she was aiming at - yeah, why wasn't she the protagonist again?

I guess the story is supposed to be about rebelling against Prospero and the Reverend. But that would require the book to be a dystopian. Instead, this is yet another romance masquerading as a dystopian. Throw in a villain, make it hundreds of years in the future, have people dying and voila! Insta-dystopian!

Most of the book is watching Araby be an idiot. The first half, she stumbles around Clubs, acting like a moron and forcing other people to save her. The second half, she lets a man she barely knows tell her what to do, expose her AND HER FAMILY to danger, and forces other people to save her. Oh, and this guy she lets order her around? That would be psychopath BT2 - you know, the one who said he'd throw her to the crocs for his Rebellion. Yeah. As I was reading one stupid thing after another that she doesn't, I couldn't help but think:

And now, let's talk about diseases. And masques. And how the frak does this one work? So, lemme get this straight: the people wear masques to prevent disease. OK, I get that. But then, there is no way to keep the inflicted away from the healthy? Uh...quarantine anyone? And then everyone takes off their frakkin' masque for anything - to breathe (because you can't???), to kiss, because it's itchy, because it doesn't look good with leather - I mean, seriously, if this is the big way to keep from getting sick, then wear the damn masque already!! This isn't rocket science!

2022 Pandemic Update: I am sorry, book - I never realized how accurate you would be about people being unable to use a mask or to quarantine to keep from getting sick. I take this complaint back.

But no, wait! Now people are squeamish about touching infected. Because now it's transmitted via contact?

I suspect the germs crawled off his lank brown hair and infested everything.

RIGHT! That's how disease works! Germs ride on a person's hair and when they meet their victim, they get off and leap onto their victim, thus infecting them!

And then add in how apparently BT1 and Araby can ride in an air balloon ABOVE the disease, and I have absolutely no clue about anything anymore. I honestly think the disease is transmittable via PlotContrivancitis.

I'm starting to run out of steam, but I have one more area I must address before I end this novel-length review. Steampunk. Steampunk has a very unique feel and look. In short, steampunk should look like this:

or this:

NOT this:

It has clocks on it - STEAMPUNK!

or this:

See?! Whalebone corset! TOTALLY steampunk!

or this:

Anything Abe Lincoln must be Steampunk...right?

I don't read just to snark on books and give them bad reviews. I really want to love every book that I read. But this book just did not mesh with me. At all. The most enjoyment I got out of it was all the gaping I was doing at how dumb Araby acted and the completely predictable nature of the book. I personally don't recommend reading this unless you are up for snark bait. I most certainly will not be seeking out the next book in this trilogy.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,910 reviews852 followers
March 13, 2012
4.5 Stars

Wow. Loved this one, and I'm dying to know what happens next!

Seventeen-year old Araby Worth, is basically sleepwalking through life, going through the motions. Escaping the desperate life that has become reality, by dressing up and going to the Debauchery Club at night, escaping in whatever way available. Things were not like this before the plague. Back when Araby's twin brother was alive, and her family was still whole. But things changed after plague hit the world. The world has turned into a bleak place; one where people are just trying to survive. A place where having a mask means life or death. Araby's father is a scientist and the inventor of the mask that keeps the remaining population alive. Because of this, Araby and her family live a life in relative luxury compared to other people. This doesn't bring happiness to Araby, though. She feels guilty for surviving when she thinks her parents wish her brother would've instead. Araby has resigned herself to living this shell of a life but things are about to change. Two things happen, or maybe I should say, two men happen. First, there is Will. He works at the club, checking people in and making sure they're free of disease before they're allowed entrance. Here is what Araby thinks of Will:

If I were honest with myself, I might admit that these few moments are why I come here, week after week. Swirling tattoos cover his arms, climbing up from the collar of his shirt to twist around his throat, the ends hidden by his tousled dark hair. I try not to look at him. He could make me happy. His attention, a hint of admiration in his eyes….I don't deserve happiness.

Okay, snap out of it! Yes, he's dreamy, and yes, all the club girls lust after him, but he's more than just a pretty face. Araby finds out that he alone is caring for his brother and sister. Saving up so they both have a mask and can go to school. Araby captures Will's attention when he realizes that she's more than just a shallow party girl, and the sparks fly.

Second, there is Elliott. He's Prince Prospero's rich nephew. However, Araby finds out that he's much more. Elliott hates the way his uncle rules over the people, and how the city is turning into ruins. He's organizing a revolution and he'll use anything or anyone to accomplish his goals. Elliott approaches Araby to help because of her scientist father, and her potential access to his crucial intelligence. It seems, though, that Elliott is not immune to Araby's charms, either. He's obviously taken with Araby, not that she really believes that. Even if she did, could he put her above his goals and ambitions?

I had a bit of a hard time getting into this story at first. It felt a little slow in the beginning but boy, did it pick up. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate love triangles! They can be the most frustrating feature of a book, making you want to tear your hair out. Yet, there is a love triangle in this story, and I'm not upset at all. For some reason it worked in this case. In fact, at this point, Araby could choose either Will or Elliott and I'd be happy. They are both very swoon-worthy (and just plain worthy) in their own right. I thought the world building was well done. You really got a feel for this world and its atmosphere. There is some good action, suspense, and a few plot twists, and surprises. I was on the edge of my seat in the end. While, I wouldn't categorize this as a horrible cliffhanger, you're definitely left hanging. I can't wait for the next one, which, by the way is the conclusion. The author told me there are two books total.
Profile Image for Mizuki.
3,000 reviews1,210 followers
December 31, 2017
I can never resist Edgar Allan Poe's references in novels, but after crawling my way through 200 pages of Masque of the Red Death, I found the world building is so poor and vague that I start to miss Nevermore , a paranormal YA novel which at least has clearer definition and rules for its own fictional worlds.

Okay, in the last day of the year 2017 I manged to finish this YA novel, it isn't too terrible, the final plot twist is okay-ish even, but...........as a whole, this novel is too unremarkable, too far away from the standard of Poe's grand creations.

Still..........being a Poe junkie that I am, I'm still going to read the sequel. Sad isn't it?
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,164 reviews639 followers
April 15, 2012
In Masque of the Red Death, Araby lives in a time and place where death is as certain as a careless breath without protection. However, trusting others is just as dangerous and deadly as the Weeping Sickness that plagues her world.

I think every avid book reader has a hook… something that draws them to a story despite what the book jacket says about the possible adventure. For some it might simply be the genre, for others it could be a setting or time maybe even a character’s name, but for me, I fall for beautiful book covers … every.single.time. ~blushes with chagrin~ However, lately they seem to consistently let me down just proving that the allure doesn’t go past the first few pages or so.

Well, thankfully, that’s not the case with Masque of the Red Death. The hook stayed well past the first few pages. I loved the dark, gothic feel of the storyline. The sinister plot and the constant emotional pull that the main character maneuvered throughout the book really had me intrigued and captivated. This very somber story is filled with pages and pages of intrigue, mystery and well timed twists.

Overall, I’d like to say I pride myself in being able to go on instinct… knowing who I can trust in a story and who is hiding something evil yet to be revealed. Well, at the conclusion of this installment, all I can say is please give me the next book in the series because I’m seriously at a loss. Elliot? Will? What just happened??? Great series kick-off. Well done!

Song Choice – Chapter 22: The air balloon scene reminds me of this song.

Thank you Rachel for lending me this ARC. :)
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews373 followers
April 20, 2012

Bethany Griffin’s book Masque of the Red Death is one of my favorite books so far this year. Based on the Edgar Allan Poe story with the same name, Masque of the Red Death is a fascinating story of a society that lives with the aftermath of a devastating plague.

This is a strange post-apocalyptic world. People live in fear of contracting the contagion. Clothing styles have changed, allowing more skin to show to prove that the wearer is not afflicted. The rich wear special breathing masks and rarely leave their homes. The poor cannot afford the masks and many succumb to the disease.

This is a world with giant bats and hungry crocodiles. Airships fly overhead and steam carriages have replaced horse-drawn carriages – the horses have died out. There’s a sense of hopelessness and despair in this world. The population is ripe for rebellion.

And there is talk of rebellion from many sides. The population is repressed by the elusive Prince Prospero who rules the city with an iron hand from his isolated castle. Surrounded by fawning aristocrats, Prince Prospero is a bit of a sociopath and his methods are treacherous. His nemesis, the Reverend Malcontent is rapidly gaining followers. The symbol of the Black Scythe appears all over the city.

Our heroine Araby Worth lives in the Akkadian Towers with her mother and father. Araby is an interesting character – she suffers from survivor’s guilt and has contemplated suicide. Araby's brother Finn died from the disease and she has put her life on hold, vowing not to experience anything that her brother will not experience.

Despite the somber mood of the novel, Araby and her best friend April manage to spend some time in the Debauchery Club, a kind of men’s club that now allows women due to the dwindling population. The club provides an escape for the upper classes but it also has a sinister aspect as well. As members enter the club, they are tested for the contagion. Will works at the club as a doorman and contagion tester as people are tested for the contagion as they enter the club.

April is much more outgoing than Araby. Araby prefers to dull her senses and April’s brother Elliot is more than willing to oblige with some sort of drug.

I loved the characters in this book. The story is told from Araby’s point of view. Araby was sad, devastated by her brother’s death. Araby was also caring, loving, loyal, and generous. I loved how she felt the need to get masks for the young children around her. Will was one of my favorites. A working class man, Will was responsible for the care of his younger brother and sister. He was clearly in love with Araby and took care that she remains safe. Elliot was a bit of a rake, a scoundrel, not afraid to use people or step on them to advance himself. What is interesting is that the characters are not what they appear to be, so the plot twists are quite fun.

Yes, there is a love triangle in this book. The competition between Will and Elliot for Araby’s affections is interesting. With Will, everything felt natural and real. With Elliot, not so much. As you can see, I am rooting for Will.

I enjoyed reading Masque of the Red Death. Bethany Griffin has excellent story telling skills. The world was well detailed and captivating. The pacing was well done. I can’t wait to read the sequel. Thanks to the author, I am now interested in reading the original short story by Edgar Allan Poe as well.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for a review copy of this book.

Review posted on Badass Book Reviews.

The original short story can be found here.
Profile Image for Amelia, free market Puritan.
349 reviews34 followers
March 4, 2012
I'll start this review by admitting the two reasons I read this book at all:

1) It draws heavily on the inspirations of Edgar Allan Poe (also known as 'The Man') and I assumed that Masque would be either a more detailed retelling or some sort of revision of the original
2) It was highly recommended by Nevermore author Kelly Creagh, the current reigning champion for a Poe-inspired novel

Masque of the Red Death has some obvious similarities to the original work. The first 100 or so pages reminded me very much of Poe's original tale: there's death and despair everywhere, the character feels such overwhelming grief that all she wants to do is escape, and there's that clear negligence among the upper class (epitomized here by Araby's self-absorbed friend, April, as well as the other members of the Debauchery Club). But then...the tone completely shifts and I learn about this revolution and this coup against the Prince. Even Prospero is different: rather than an apathetic fop, as I was expecting, I got a conniving psychopath. Now don't get me wrong, psychopaths are interesting (the Queen of Hearts from The Looking Glass Wars is a ton of crazy fun), but this guy was practically useless. No reason or motive or anything.

I tried so hard to like this book. And on the surface, there's nothing really wrong with it and nothing that would keep me from liking it. I want to point out that for a story that has a "Debauchery Club," it was pretty tame. Surprisingly tame. But Masque ended up thoroughly confusing me on many levels. I don't even know what to call this book: it's not a dystopian, it's not really a paranormal, and frankly, one airship and a bunch of corsets doesn't qualify as a steampunk in my eyes. So what is this, exactly? A neo-Gothic horror story? There wasn't enough 'horror,' though, because halfway through the novel the focus shifts away from decay and despair to seeds of revolution. To be honest, it read like a story with no clear direction, like it couldn't make up its mind if it was going to be character-driven, or plot driven. And so (for me), it basically failed at both. By contrast, one of the powerful elements of Poe's works is his dark and melancholy mood. Dark, but with just a hint of suspense, of something big that's about to happen. That mood did not carry over into Masque of the Red Death the way it did in Nevermore.

This next section deals specifically with the ARC version:

But for me, the biggest "thing" about Masque was the characters' sheer lack of motivation and the way they related to each other. I actually get why Araby would want to waste away her days in the Debauchery Club. That's hardly a stretch of the imagination. What I don't get is why she gets involved in a plot to overthrow the Prince (that's not a spoiler) or why other characters did what they did, if that makes sense. The other big "thing" about this book was the stark contrast between character descriptions and character actions. None of the characters had any clearly-defined personalities and as a result, everybody seemed pretty schizophrenic. In one chapter, a girl would be a complete airhead and quintessential 'mean girl' - a few chapters later, the same girl would be giving orders and plotting to overthrow the Prince. And that would have been near genius (the whole 'appearance vs. reality' motif) if I got the feeling that the author did it on purpose. But I didn't get that feeling. The feeling I got is that Masque of the Red Death is populated by characters that lack any defining personalities or motivations. They just do and say whatever suits the current mood. The whole thing was rather bizarre.

What else haven't I mentioned? There is a quasi-love triangle, but up until the last two chapters, I didn't mind it at all, because Araby clearly had a 'favorite' and did a good job of giving the other guy the cold shoulder. And I will say that Ms. Griffin gives readers a new experience with her triangle: instead of giving the protagonist two gorgeous, perfect (and submissive) guys, she ends up giving the protagonist a choice between . Interesting.
And much like Daughter of Smoke and Bone, there was a twist at the end that I didn't see coming. Also like Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I did not care for the twist, and thought it was actually handled in a very sloppy manner. I genuinely believe that having a major twist at the end ONLY WORKS if it makes SENSE. Otherwise, it's just useless and confusing. And this twist, like I said, was one of the sloppiest-written twists I've ever read.

Overall, Masque of the Red Death didn't hold up for me. Like I said, I tried very hard to like this book (harder than I've tried for any other book in a long time) and I compliment Bethany Griffin on taking one of Edgar Allan Poe's best-known stories and giving it a unique spin. I know that there will be many who will love this book, and in this case, I would say judge it for yourself. For me, though, it takes a special book to hold up Poe's dynamic legacy, and this just wasn't it.
Profile Image for Katie.
522 reviews423 followers
January 28, 2012
Similar Books: The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge, Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Honestly, I'm not really sure how to review this book. It wasn't what I was expecting at all. And while it started off a little bizarre for me and I had a difficult time getting into it, by the end, I was racing through the pages and had to know what happened.

First, let me say that I'm a little confused by this new subgenre of "dystopian steampunk," like Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel. Because the world in Bethany Griffin's novel has been ravaged by plague, it has that desolate, post-apocalyptic feel of a dystopian. Also, it doesn't have very strong ties to the past such as books like Clockwork Angel, by Cassie Clare. For this reason, I had a difficult time getting a feel for this world that we're thrown into.

Also, this book is INCREDIBLY dark. You're probably rolling your eyes right now, thinking, "Well, of course it is! It's based on an Edgar Allan Poe short story!" And that's true, but maybe I wasn't ready for the bleakness of Masque since I'd read Nevermore, by Kelly Creagh, which is fairly upbeat for such dark subject matter.

Because this book is DARK! I mean, we're talking, bodies strewn all over the streets. Babies getting thrown onto carts that carry the dead. Drugs. A prince who threatens to feed his nephew to crocodiles. Madness.

Take this quote, for example:

"I knew a boy who lived with the contagion...Everyone waited for him to die, but he didn't even seem sick, certainly wasn't bedridden. Instead people who came in contact with him died. At first it was deemed coincidence. When his own mother came down with the contagion, he hung himself." (p.172)

Poe would be proud.

But in the midst of this bizarre world, you've got Araby. It takes us quite a while for us to really get to know her. I had a difficult time sympathizing with her at first, because she's so bent on numbing herself to all emotions. She takes drugs so she doesn't have to deal with the guilt of her brother's death or interact with her parents, who are just as jacked up as she is.

Even at the end of the book, I didn't feel that connected to Araby. Although she had a clear character motivation and I could understand why she did what she did, there was just no spark of life in her that propelled me to care about her.

Most of the other characters were flat, as well. You've got Will, the mysterious boy who works at the Debauchery Club but who also takes care of his little brother and sister because their parents are dead. And then there's Elliott, the brother of Araby's best friend who also happens to be the nephew of Prince Prospero. We're never really sure if Elliott is crazy or not. Sometimes, he seems it, sometimes not. Honestly, though I got the feeling we were supposed to be disturbed by Elliott, I felt the most connection to him. He seemed the most real out of everyone.

But what this book lacks in character development, it makes up for in beauty of language and overall plot. Griffin's real strength is in her ability to craft language. I was often given flashbacks to reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone, by Laini Taylor (and that's high praise!). The simple, subdued way Griffin expressed Araby's emotions was beautiful, and I was often struck by a particularly poignant passage that was about nothing more than eating breakfast or walking down the street.

I also thought the plotting and pacing were really well done. The book slowly builds to a powerful climax that left me at the end of the story wanting more. The last chapter in particular was really great, and it made me want book 2 like, yesterday.

Overall, this is a more literary book than I was expecting. It's got a great voice that haunted me even after I'd finished it. Although the characters were a little lacking, I was intrigued enough by the worldbuilding and the beautiful prose to enjoy it, and I look forward to book 2!
Profile Image for Mimi.
265 reviews358 followers
April 24, 2012
Rating: 3.5 creepy-yet-gorgeous stars out of 5!

Dark. Dangerous. Lyrical. Tragic. Poe would be so proud of this book!

Set in a plagued city with danger around every corner, Masque of the Red Death is one of the most chilling yet captivating dystopians I've ever read. There's death wherever you turn; corpse collectors roam the dangerous streets. And everyone has to wear a porcelain mask outside to protect them from the plague, but only the rich can afford them.

Araby is such a heartbroken and heartbreaking character. With the guilt of her twin brother's death hanging over her, she refuses to let herself to be happy, to experience anything he won't. While my heart goes out to Araby for what she goes through, this makes is a little harder to connect with her. I had the same problem with most of the other characters. We only skimmed the surface when I felt like there was so much more beneath their masks.

The romance was twisted yet incredibly sweet — just like the two boys. There are secrets, sacrifices, and huge surprises you won't expect. Bethany Griffin knows how to write suspense! And even though I wish there was more of a punch to that build-up, it still left me craving to know how anything could possibly work out in this bleak world.

Deliciously dark and hauntingly beautiful, Masque of the Red Death sits up there with Kelly Creagh's Nevermore on my list of coolest Poe-inspired books! It wasn't as mind-blowing as I'd hoped, but it still stuck with me and I can't wait to read the next. :)

BUY or BORROW?: Edgar Allan Poe fans, get ready to empty your wallets! Don't let the rating fool you — this book is definitely worth the read! Am I the only one hoping this will be turned into a movie? x)

(Original review at Mimi Valentine's YA Review Blog)
Profile Image for Brooke.
159 reviews112 followers
March 26, 2012
Oh my GOODNESS!! How can it end like that?!! AHH! Really, really good book! I NEED more! :)

I was not expecting to fall for Masque of the Red Death as hard as I did! I loved every page, every character and ever plot twist. This book was simply fantastic!

The world in which this story takes place is a dark one. Where death is a daily occurrence and rain is almost always on the downpour the whole book has this very eerie vibe to it. The setting and mood really played its own role throughout the whole story and i loved that!

I also really liked the main character Araby! She's a super compassionate character and she puts all of her emotions into every decision she makes (even when she tries not to.) She cares so deeply about everyone she knows and she’s not above giving out second chances. But she’s also extremely guarded and closed off. She puts up this front and tends to hide who she really is from others. So to escape not only the terrors of the outside world but also her inner struggles, Araby goes to local debauchery club on a regular basis with her friend April.

There, Araby meets Will and Oh. My. Perfection. He is everything you could ever possibly want in a fictional boy. Holy Gods. Jus...UNFF! (And that’s a technical term...) He has this unruly dark hair, a sly smile AND he’s all tatted up. *THUD* All of those glorious attributes make him totally mysterious, seriously sexy, and slightly dangerous.

Which makes it even more surprising when Will takes Araby back to his home. When she gets there, she learns that Will’s parents died from the plague leaving him to take care of his little brother, Henry, and little sister, Elise. And that was absolutely endearing to read about. He is so good to them and so protective that it made me want to cry. I could feel how much they meant to him through the pages. GAH! I just want to marry this boy. He’s completely charming and sweet and he’s someone that Araby really opens up to and starts to not only trust, but fall for as well. But, Will is not without faults...and I’ll leave that tidbit right there...

When Will’s not around another boy seems to always be close by...April’s brother, Elliot. *sighs* Oh, Elliot, you semi-insane stud with a hero complex, how could I not also grow attached to you too? This boy has issues—major issues. Issues so deep that it seems almost impossible to get through to him. He’s arrogant and stubborn and selfish, but something about him drew me in. And it also drew Araby in as well.

When it comes to the boys in this book, picking a team is out of the question. The love triangle is done so amazingly well that I have no words as to describe its brilliance.

With an intense ending and no clear-cut future for Araby, I’m dying for more of her story! Masque of the Red Death is a stunning, seductive and incredible novel! I HIGHLY recommend it!
Profile Image for Crystal.
449 reviews92 followers
April 11, 2012
I have been waiting for a book like this for forever! I don’t even know where to begin I just loved this! It was creepy, gothic (thanks Giselle =P), dark, icky, depressing, and just all out amazing.

Set in a time where a plaque like disease has almost wiped out the humans Abray lives the life that most don’t. She has a porcelain mask that helps protect her from the germs that cause this disease. When her best friend is taken she is asked to help find her and help in a rebellion against the evil Prince. With no other alternatives she gives her trust to Elliot and so starts her journey to uncovering many many truths that she never saw coming.

I have to say this book was right up my alley. I love a good story that has twists and boy oh boy this one delivers. At one point my mouth actually dropped because I never saw that punch coming! It was brilliant. I am really at a loss for words with this one because it was just that good. My review will never do the book justice. Please pick this book up you won’t regret it at all! I give the author major credit for writing such a depressing book but making it so intricate and detailed that the reader just wants to hope for the best in every situation.
96 reviews505 followers
January 27, 2013
This book was a huge disappointment. I wanted to like it so much, and I ended up indifferent to it, not because of the plague part - the romance took so much out of the grade for this book.

I found that I didn't give a crap about Will and Elliot, and I hated them both. I had a hard time relating to Araby, but I liked her after a while. I was extremely confused in the first chapter (had she met Will before?) but after that, I was good. The writing and the horror blew my mind; this book was DARK and those parts.

But I ended up being "meh" about this book. I'll get the next one, and the one after that, and I hope that it gets better - for me, at least.
Profile Image for April.
2,101 reviews950 followers
October 14, 2012
I’m pretty sure that the works of Edgar Allan Poe make for awesome source material as evidenced by Nevermore and NOW by Bethany Griffin in Masque Of The RedDeath. It feels cliche to type this, but Masque Of The Red Death transported me to a place where fear of airborne pathogens rules the streets and there is a rather stark division between main character Araby Worth’s gilded world of privilege and the world of the underclass.

Read the rest of my review here
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
595 reviews3,587 followers
July 29, 2014
2.5 stars

No, not really. I never had braces.

Yes, I know. You all have the right to hate me now.

What I had when I was thirteen was far worse than braces; I had a huge stick up my ass. Yes, I admit it and I can laugh at myself now, but the me back then was insufferable. If I could go back in time, I'd give myself a sound slap across the face to see if I could knock that stick out.

I walked around thinking I was better than everyone (I wasn't), and everyone else were provincial losers (they weren't). As an indirect result, I became the kind of girl that people call emo.

I could give Sasuke a run for his money.

I wore black all the time, I didn't like going out in the sunlight, and I loathed having my picture taken. You can imagine how my birthday party went down.

Thankfully, somewhere along the line, I grew the fuck up and learned that the world is not all about MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME! I ditched black for red dresses and pastel-colored tank tops. I still prefer staying at home over bars, but I'd accompany my friends out. I also take the occasional selfie now. Yay!

The only thing that remained of that 13-year-old angsty girl was her love of horror, which I still indulge in regularly, though less than before. I was a huge Edger Allen Poe fan (still am, actually), so Masque of the Red Death, a reimagining of Poe's classic tale of the same name, caught my attention immediately. I expected a gothic story ridden with plague, and perhaps a Phantom of the Opera element as the Red Death.

This book delivered...but I didn't like it.

A large part of the reason is the narrator, Araby. Being in her head was like reliving my tween years. She's dreary. She shuns new experiences because of a tragic accident involving her deceased brother, and seeks oblivion through drugs. She just doesn't want to do anything with her life; a living corpse.

I understand this is part of her character and she displays a tremendous amount of character development later on. Her devotion to her dead brother is misguided but sympathetic. But I still can't get past the icky feeling that I'm supposed to root for, and love, a character I want to punch in the face, a.k.a thirteen-year-old Natalie. This is a supremely personal thing, but one that affects my whole perception of the book.

The love interests, Will and Elliot, failed to win my affection and seemed rather bland as characters. Honestly, I can't tell the two apart at all. There's a love triangle too, though to be fair, it didn't really get on my nerves. Araby and the boys care more about saving their city than their tangled loves lives, and Araby doesn't whine on about who to choose, which is good.

The only character I like is April, Araby's best friend.
At first, I thought she was going to be another ditzy-best-friend-type because she likes make-up, dresses and parties, but it turns out there is a surprisingly large amount of depth to her.
When she first met Araby, she saved her from jumping off the edge of a building, and remains calm and reliable during the siege even though She's a well-rounded out and interesting character on her own, and I sort of wish the story had been told from her POV than Araby's.

Also, I didn't like the overall style of the book. I like my literature with punch and sizzle, like Cracked rather than the dreamy quality of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

Overall, not a bad book, but failed to spark my interest. If you're a fan of gothic novels and Poe, you might enjoy this. Otherwise, stand clear.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,731 reviews260 followers
October 18, 2018
A decent Edgar Allan Poe inspired YA steampunk dystopian romance. The world building is pretty great although slow as we get to know Araby's depressingly atmospheric city. Araby herself is quite flawed and on paper she should be a fascinating lead, but she's quite underwhelming and I wasn't all that interested in her the further I got through the story. Now, just to warn you, there is a love triangle which got old - Araby is very indecisive. I didn't really care about Will one way or another in the long run, but Elliott makes the story. He's definitely more of an intriguing character than even our MC. Overall, I doubt I'll be back for the sequel. However, I do highly recommend Bethany Griffin's The Fall which retell Poe's classic short story "The Fall of the House of Usher" from Madeleine's point of view.

Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews158 followers
April 16, 2012
Three and a half stars: A book that delves into a dark dystopian, steampunk world.

The Masque of the Red Death descends the reader into a re-imagined telling of Poe's famous short story by the same name.  The book takes us to a steampunk-dystopian setting complete with masks, disease, steam carriages, debauchery, despair, death and corpse hungry crocodiles.  A plague has decimated the majority of the population.  A virulent air born virus attacks the victim with fevers, pus oozing sores and ultimately death.  A brilliant scientist invented a mask that blocks the contagions but it must be worn at all times.  Unfortunately,  the masks will only work for the person who originally breaths into it, they cannot be interchanged.  Of course, a life saving commodity such as these masks are scarce, except for the very rich who hoard them and even have numerous masks for various occasions.  These wealthy and elite people choose to visit many of the clubs throughout the city, in order to spend their time sealed away from the pestilence and decay outside.  Here in the opulent darkness of the club, they bide their time, mask free, engaging in acts of debauchery while sampling mind altering drugs that allow them to escape their troubles.  Araby, the daughter of the mask inventor, floats through her days in a daze.  Nights are corseted dresses, glitter, darkened rooms and forgetfulness.  She is a shadow, never fully in the world since the death of her beloved twin brother, Finn.  Guilt drives her to the clubs.  She refuses to love and to live.  Yet, she has eyes for the mysterious boy who is the bouncer at The Debauchery Club.  His eyes and swirling tattoos draw her in, but she can't let herself fall under his spell.  Araby and her best friend April head to the club for another night of fog and forgetfulness.  A flash of a silver syringe and Araby remembers no more.  She wakes the next day in a strange bed, April is missing, and events are set in motion that lead Araby down a path fraught with deceit and danger.  Can Araby learn to live again or will the plague claim her along with the rest of humanity?

What I Liked:
* I enjoyed the dark atmosphere of the tale.  The residents live every day in terror, afraid of the particles of death on the wind.  A life behind masks has taken away many of the decidedly human traits.  Facial expressions are hidden behind the porcelain and kissing has become the most intimate form of passionate expression, for one must risk  infection by removing the mask in order to touch lips with another.  Death lurks around every corner and in the river are thousands of hungry crocodiles, feeding off the dead.  In the air, along with the pathogens are giant bats, genetically engineered to feed on the mosquitos that carry the plague, but the bats in turn, are diseased and attack the humans.  Ms. Griffin does an excellent job in fashioning this dark and depraved world, where the rich glitter and glutton and the poor scavenge and die.  It is a cruel world, indeed.  
* I reread the Poe version of this story and was impressed by the vision of Ms. Griffin.  She pulls from Poe's ideas and fashions them into this modern steampunk-dystopian setting that will appeal to fans of both genres.  If you have yet to read Poe's version, read it. 
*Araby has such an interesting voice.  She narrates this story in a stream of conscious format, so everything is told through her thoughts.  She is full of self loathing and apathy.  Her descriptions are often dichotomies, but they are unique.  I really enjoyed the author's writing style.  It is different from your typical YA thoroughfare. 
*While the majority of the characters are living lives filled with opulence and luxury there are a few characters who represent those struggling daily to survive.  Among them is my favorite character, Will.  A young man who works nights at the club in order to care for his two young, orphaned siblings.  Will provides the spark of goodness that is extinguished in all the other characters.  His self sacrificing acts for his brother and sister allow me to have hope for humanity. 
*I absolutely adore the cover of this book.  It is gorgeous.  One of my favorite of the year.
And The Not So Much:
*While I loved the ominous, absorbing setting of this book, unfortunately it lacked detail in the world building.  The reader is thrust into this dark world and spends the entire time fumbling in the darkness for the light switch of illuminating information. There is hardly any details on the plague such as: how long does it take to succumb, is it world wide, how long has it been killing, where did it come from?   Then one of the key elements, the masks, are a mystery.  All you learn is that they are porcelain, they have some type of air filtration capability and can only be worn by one person.  There is no discussion on how they work exactly and what they look like.  I found this to be an extremely frustrating aspect of this book.  I was fascinated by the concept of the masks, but there is very little information to glean regarding them in the book.  Towards the end of the book, another virulent sickness, The Red Death, appears and again details are very sketchy on this new disease as well.  This is a book with such shining promise, but falters due to meager world building and weak descriptions.
*The characters in this book are, for the most part, hard to connect with and unlikeable.  I did enjoy Araby's distinct narration, but outwardly I could not care about her.  She is a ghost like character, flitting through the pages, filled with loathing and guilt, she doesn't care whether she lives or dies.  This behavior makes me, as the reader, not care either.  Don't get me wrong, she is very well written but sometimes when you don't connect with your narrator it diminishes the read.  I like the stream of consciousness style, but in this book there is so much that gets glossed over while other parts come across as jumbled and confusing.
*This book tries to present a love triangle but this is one instance where the love triangle does not work because the secondary love interest, Elliot the rich aristocrat, does not ever solidify himself as a legitimate suitor.  So while on the surface, it appears to be a triangle it in essence is not.
*The plot of this book confusing and underdeveloped.  The majority of the book focuses on Elliot trying to get Araby to help him revolt against his uncle, Prince Prospero.  The pace is slow, and the only thing that kept me entertained was the engaging writing and fascinating world.  Finally, when the book starts getting exciting and begins to build it just ends, no resolution and not even a cliffhanger.  This book really felt like it went nowhere.  

The Red Masque of Death with its foreboding dystopian setting will snatch your attention and drag you into its world of glamour, debauchery, plague and death.  It is an entertaining revision of Poe's work.  I applaud Ms. Griffin for refashioning Poe into a modern book that blends dystopia with steampunk.  Ms. Griffin with her unique and engaging style of writing shows me that she is definitely a talented author to watch.  The book does suffer from a few flaws but for the most part it is an enjoyable read, and I will be continuing the series.  

Favorite Quotations:

"If I were honest with myself, I might admit that these few moments are why I come here, week after week. Swirling tattoos cover his arms, climbing up from the collar of his shirt to twist around his throat, the ends hidden by his tousled dark hair. I try not to look at him. He could make me happy. His attention, a hint of admiration in his eyes….I don't deserve happiness."

"The charcoal sky spits cold rain as we rumble to a stop at a crossroad."

"The girl's grief is a mindless, crushing thing, and somehow I feel it, even though I am supposed to be numb."

"It's the first time you've looked in the mirror for more than half a second."

"I like the idea of making the world better, instead of hiding from all the ugliness."

"Just because you don't want to see something doesn't mean that it will go away.  Do you think inhumanity doesn't exist if you pretend not to see it?"  Or maybe get too drunk to understand?  We've forgotten the things that make life worthwhile."

"The buildings surrounding the little park seem more sinister than they did just a few minutes before.  The empty windows, the door hanging from its hinges.  The lack of sunlight...."

"My uncle doesn't understand people who can make things.  All he knows how to  destroy.  Your mother makes silence into music. He is fascinated by that."
Posted @ http://rainydayramblings.typepad.com/
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,073 reviews2,635 followers
August 18, 2013
2.5 stars. Never have I felt so broken up over writing a review for a book that ultimately ended up not being my cup of tea. It's tough, seeing as Masque of the Red Death is a young adult dystopian novel inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name, and so it is at once creative, original and highly ambitious -- which all happen to be qualities I admire in a book. It had some good ideas, and so I wanted to like this, tried hard to like it, but in the end there simply were too many issues that prevented me from getting on board.

The book is set in a gothic, post-apocalyptic rendition of the late 1800s, with a dash of steampunk mixed in for good measure. 17-year-old Araby Worth lives life amongst the elite thanks to her father's illustrious career as a scientist, while the poor are left to fend for themselves in a city ridden with plague and death. Those who have the means to afford them buy the elaborate porcelain masks which help prevent the contagion, but the dictator Prince Prospero has a iron hold over their production. Still grieving the death of her twin brother which she believes is her fault, Araby wants to help change the way things are by working towards making salvation from the disease available to all.

I'm torn over these details. On the one hand, I'm completely in love with the setting, and my one regret is wanting to know a lot more about the history and background than the book was able to give me. I also think the main character had a lot of potential, but for some reason Araby feels pretty much devoid of any personality. If I had to guess, I would say it's the writing style; told in first-person present tense, the narration could have been a lot more powerful, but instead it came across very clipped as I was bombarded with simple short sentences that often described everything Araby saw in front of her eyes but sadly not what was going on inside her head. As such, I couldn't get a sense of who she was at all.

Even now, there are so many blank spots in my mental picture of her as a character, since a lot of her motivations and behaviors just didn't match up. Her father, for example, whom she thinks is cold, aloof and uncaring, is actually in my opinion a sweet, kind and rather cool dad! I mean, here's a man who takes his morose teenage daughter for walks just to get her out of the house and on a whim would buy her nice things like books. Then there's Araby, one of those girls who contemplates betraying her parents for a boy she's only known for a grand total of like five minutes. I'm just shaking my head.

Which brings me to another thing that bothered me -- the dreaded love triangle. It would be nice if I had any interest at all in either romantic option, but behind door number one is Elliott, the prince's nephew who seeks to fuel a rebellion by convincing Araby to join him by his side. Meanwhile, behind door number two is William, the handsome porter with the awesome tattoos who works at the club Araby frequents and whom she is drawn to. One guy is arrogant, the other is dull, and both are patronizing to the extreme. It's really tough for me to get into a book when the romantic drama takes up such a huge part of the story, especially when I think the heroine is deserving of so much more than what she's offered.

I feel like I'm being too harsh in this review, but even after putting my YA-reading hat on and embracing the romance, I just couldn't get into this book. I think it had some great ideas, but I feel like we've only scratched the surface on a lot of them, much like how I think Araby's character could have been much better developed. While this book was a quick read, I can't help but think maybe a little more detail could have gone a long way into fleshing out the story and making it more satisfying.
Profile Image for Roohdaar.
165 reviews1,806 followers
July 10, 2012
I shall rant now.

Oh, I am so disappointed. I thought this book and I would become lovers because the author of it was inspired by one of my absolute favorite writers of all time, Edgar Allan Poe. I can't even type his name without internally fangirling! *sighs* However, this book was simply sad. It made me feel sad with its writing that lacked every bit of imagery it was supposed to have. It made me sad because I was bombarded by my two enemies: insta-love and love triangle. Two in one. Splendid. It's like I'm in heaven!

Son I am disappoint.
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I am tired of the "My heart skipped a beat as I saw the boy with the dark hair" crap in the first twenty pages or so. I'm tired of love triangles. I really don't understand the joy of reading how one guy gets the girl while the other suffers. It makes me cry. And my ship never wins. No one listens to Haleema! I usually want the quirky, protective, humorous, badass one to win. But no. The brooding, cold, boring, humorless one wins. (However, Delena is endgame for Vampire Diaries! I am so excited for that! Finally! I get what I want! I win! *performs victory dance in advance* If anyone wants to fangirl over Delena over here, I'm up for it. *prepares tea for you*)

Anyway, back to this book. The writing was simply lax. I couldn't imagine anything besides what the characters were wearing. I don't care how elegant and appealing Araby's velvet dress is. I don't even know much about Araby.

Boring, straight up from Loserville Haleema: Well, duh. You practically skipped half of the book. How the hell would you know?
Cool, I know a Mary Sue when I read one Haleema: Shut up and get me a Nutella sandwich.

I leave now. Good day or night to you, my review reader.
Profile Image for Kristy.
592 reviews88 followers
April 15, 2012

Brief Summary:
In this world, only the rich get masks. Masks are crucial to survival, seeing as there is a plague of sickness eveloping Araby's world. Araby, though not always rich is the daughter of an important scientist. She is befriended by the Prince's niece April and eventually his nephew Elliot. Elliot has big plans for this world. Only is he sincere? Can he really help everyone? Is he really a good guy? Throw in a non-annoying love triangle and BAM! You've got yourself quite the awesome adventure!

This might just be my favorite book I've read this year....Yes, it's up there with Divergent! And, for those of you who know me.... that is saying a lot! I absolutely loved this book. The world building is so dark and gloomy at times, but turns into this magical beautiful place the next. I literally could not put this one down!

Spoilery section ahead:

I really was shocked that Will sold Araby out in the end. I understand the reasoning, but I was still having a mouth to floor moment. I thought I wanted Araby to be with Will, but now I'm not sure who to root for. That ending makes me have hope for Elliot.... but I can't quite let go of Will either. I hope he redeems himself in the next book.....

I feel so sorry for Araby in the end when she sees that pamphlet about her Father. Is it true??

I am curious what will happen to her Mother..and what will happen to April??????

Who else would be too much of a chicken to go into Debauchery???

Can you tell I am ready for #2 NOW?!?!?!?!

4.5 stars. I highly suggest you pick this one up asap.


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