Friday, May 4, 2012

Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
3.5/5 stars
Greenwillow Books, 2012
319 pages
YA Steampunk Apocalyptic

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

I was very excited to start this book. Not only am I a big fan of Poe (author of short story "The Masque of the Red Death," an inspiration for this story) but I saw a lot of rave reviews. Additionally I knew there was a boy named Will and I adore YA boys named Will.

It started out well, very dark and atmospheric with each page adding to the bleakness and overall gloom. This could be classified as a mash-up of a lot of genres with steampunk and apocalyptic being the most present. I really admire the work an author puts into their writing to combine the discrete elements. However for me as a reader, I tend to prefer to read about places I would like to go to...and there is no way I'd want to visit this world. Most of the population has been decimated by disease with only the very wealthy now able to afford the life-saving masks and the poor scrambling.

Prince Prospero, from the original story, technically owns the city while hiding in his own palace, ignoring the plight of the people. He is a terrifying presence although he is only in the book a little. Instead our focus is on main character Araby, daughter of the inventor of the masks and only half-alive after losing her twin brother years earlier. The only time she feels anything is when she goes to the Debauchery Club with her friend April. This is also the place that leads her to two very different boys.

I would be remiss to not mention that this book features a love triangle with the two guys. I did not like Elliott, a cold and manipulative person. Whereas Will saw Araby as a person with thoughts and feelings, Elliott saw the ways he could use her position to further his own aims. His professions of perhaps falling for her left me cold. For the most part, I did like Will (although as stated above, I was predisposed toward him). Toward the end, he did something that left me very upset even while I found it fitting with his character. Thus was I turned off of the love triangle.

Overall: Too dark for me; as the book progressed, I found myself sadder and sadder, sinking under the gloom. I can handle it for a short story but not novel-length. Recommended for the more stalwart reader.

Cover: Very appropriate although I wish we could see more of the mask. I still have trouble imagining exactly how it looks.


  1. I don't normally like steampunk but the more I read about this one, the more I want to read it. Sorry you didn't like it more. I like dark and twisty books so I might enjoy it. Great review!

  2. Oh goodness. That certainly sounds like a bleak read! I'm intrigued by the setting, but don't know much about Poe, nor have I read the original short story. Still, something about it sounds interesting so I'll probably give it a try.

  3. Ohhhh, I rated this book the exact same way! See how similar we are with this? x) This world really isn't one you'd want to live in -- I'm actually pretty sure that it's the OPPOSITE of my dream world LOL, expect I loved the steampunk part! And I know how much you adore the name Will (Firelight! Vanish! Soon-to-be-Hidden! <3), so I bet you were just as crushed by his betrayal as I was even though I would probably do the same thing if it was my sister!

    Amazing honest review as always, B! :) <3

  4. I think I am a stalwart reader, because I LOVED Masque of the Red Death, and how difficult it was. I'm sorry you didn't love this one forever and ever. :-(

  5. I really want to read this one too! Big Poe fan as well!

  6. The world is also amazing. I've said before that I've become obsessed with dystopian novels and that still holds true. I loved reading about this insane world where a mystery plague had killed all the horses and a great many people. A world where the act of kissing was the most intimate thing possible because that required removing your mask. A steampunk dystopian love story with rebellion and a bit of humor, what more do I need? Oh and the dress. Holy crap the dresses. I worship Bethany Griffin for describing these amazing garments in detail. Much like our world, it is the norm to show as much skin as possible, only this fashion craze is inspired by the desire to show the world that your skin is free of the puss sores and bruises that are signs of the deadly plague. The dresses are pretty much like this, take and 18th century dress, remove the petticoats and take scissors to the bottom and cut it up (in jagged, uneven lines) to above the knee. Or at least, that was my interpretation of them. Either way, I bow at your feet.


Thank you for commenting-I love to read your thoughts! Feel free to leave a link to your latest post so I can stop by!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...