Skip to main content

The Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin


Masque of the Red Death

The premise of The Masque of the Red Death is very enticing, inspired as it is by Poe's classic story. Araby Worth lives in a society devastated by plague. The disease is airborne so unless you are lucky, or rich, enough to have a mask to filter your air your chances of survival are not great. Araby does have a mask; her father is the scientist that invented the lifesaver. But, her health has come at a great price to her family and has left her almost completely emotionally numb. She spends her nights at the Debauchery Club seeking oblivion. Her days are fraught tiptoeing affairs negotiating her parents’ grief.

She has been befriended by April, niece to the man that rules the city. It is April that organises their night-time excursions and keeps Araby just about functioning. There is also Will, gatekeeper at the club. He’s caught Araby’s eye, despite her efforts at shutting herself off from all human contact. But, just as she considers letting her defences down a little with Will, a third person storms into her life and throws her into danger, deceit and confusion. Elliott, April’s brother, has plans for the future of the city and he needs Araby’s cooperation. A race against time begins as Elliott tries to gather the help and resources he needs before either his uncle or the strange shadowy men shatter his dreams. There’s also another plague coming, the Red Death, which might be unstoppable.

There are some things I loved about this story. The muted, deadened style at the beginning reflects Araby’s emotions brilliantly. As she relates her journey to and time at the Debauchery Club there is a sense of world-weariness just tinged with the search for relief. The opening chapters are excellent, and I was drawn into the horror of their ravaged landscape. The medical descriptions are good and gruesome too, and the portrait of grief is powerful in the stifling and constricting atmosphere in the family home. I thought Will was a believable character, and for the most part Araby too. She is self-absorbed, wrapped in her own sadness, but her re-awakening is a compelling part of the story for me.

I wasn’t so keen on the love triangle theme that emerges between Araby, Will and Elliott. She goes from no emotional attachments to two significant ones very rapidly, and it isn’t at all clear to me why Elliott would be that appealing. I understand why she would help him, but more than that is somewhat mysterious. One girl, two guys does seem to be the norm in YA at the moment and it feels a bit overdone now. I also couldn’t get to grips with April’s character. I’m not sure I know who or what she believes in, and I wasn’t completely convinced about her friendship with Araby. Perhaps that’s intentional, as there are still lots of things to be revealed in the second book, Dance of the Red Death.

This brings me to my final gripe, which is that I don’t think this book stands alone very well as a complete story. So much is left unresolved that it seems a bit like half a book. I like series, and can even cope with a cliffhanger, but I do like to feel I’ve read a story with its own beginning, middle, and end. I was left too much mid-story for my personal taste. But, I enjoyed the storytelling and the story, and I’m intrigued by the diseases –where have they come from and, is there more to their appearance than we know? What else has Araby’s father been working on, and how honourable are Elliott’s intentions? There is a lot to find out still, and I think I will read the second book to satisfy my curiosity.

Many thanks to Gollancz for sending a copy of The Masque of the Red Death to me to review. It is available now in Paperback. Dance of the Red Death has just been published in Paperback too.

Comments

  1. This has caught my eye a couple of times and I really like the look of it. Love triangles are a bit overdone, aren't they, but they can be very effect when done well. Luckily, I think the gothic-y feel of this would overrule that for me anyway!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Interview With The Vampire: Claudia's Story by Anne Rice and Ashley Marie Witter

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

'Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you've found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance's phone... Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat?
This book illustrates how special a thing it is to have people send you books out of the blue; it's a privilege and a pleasure. I wouldn't have known about this book, let alone read and loved it, if it hadn't landed in my letterbox. I'm …

Reading Resolutions

Happy New Year!
That's 2015 done and dusted, here's to 2016 and let's hope it's filled with love and laughter, friends and fun, books and cake. And really, that's about as far as my resolutions go but I do have a few projects in mind for the coming year and beyond.

This year there are two anniversaries I want to celebrate. The first is the two hundredth anniversary of Charlotte Bronte's birth on 21st April.
Jane Eyre is one of my most favourite stories of all and I've lost count of the number of times I've read it over the years. I'll be re-reading it yet again come April, but before then I plan to read the other three novels Charlotte wrote starting with Shirley this month. I'm quite keen to read the new Claire Harman biography of Charlotte Bronte too at some point.

The other anniversary is that of Shakespeare's death 400 years ago on 23rd April. I've finally admitted to myself that reading the same half dozen plays over and over isn'…