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Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin




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Looking forward to book 2.
( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
Edgar Allan Poe’s story, the Masque of the Red Death, is one of my favorite short stories. Even though some of his work fell a little flat for me(The Tell-Tale heart, mainly), most of his work is perfectly creepy, and The Masque of the Red Death is one of the creepiest and the one that’s stayed in my memory ever since I had to read it for school in the tenth grade. That being said, I had a high expectation for this book based on Poe’s story, and it did not disappoint.

The devastated world in this book is absolutely stunning, in the saddest way. It lingered on every page and in every word. When I was reading this book, I became completely sucked into the dark world with porcelain masks, a plague, steam engine carriages, and a city almost in ruins. I really cannot gush enough about the world-building, because it is definitely the star of this book. Characters? Who needs them when you have a setting like this! Plus, the characters are actually fairly interesting as well. It took me a while to relate to Araby, but her character growth and development is extremely evident throughout the book. She’s not the most likable character in the beginning, but while there’s tons of intrigue and plot in this book, Araby’s character arc is well done, if sometimes overshadowed by the world and plot that surrounds it.

Every character in this book fascinated me. They were all complex, three-dimensional characters who had flaws and made mistakes as well as triumphs. I was continually interested in characters like Will, who at times is the ultimate nice big brother taking care of his siblings, but who also seems resigned at times, and also Araby’s best friend, who is much more than just another sidekick.

The plot in this book is thick, and I never knew what was going to happen. Every character had secrets and strong motivations to propel the plot further, and I almost never tired of it. I say “almost” because there was a bit in the middle of the book where I began to tire of the story a bit, but it picked back up rather quickly. This is also the only bit of the story where I was genuinely frustrated with Elliott, so I was quite glad when I kept reading and in the next twenty or thirty pages I went back to actually appreciating all the characters again.

I can’t say this book is just as haunting as Poe’s original tale(It is Edgar Allan Poe, after all), but it certainly comes close enough to satisfy. Suddenly, the world in which the Red Death exist is real and fleshed out, and contains characters I care about. A read I highly recommend.

Final Impression: A solid telling of The Masque of the Red Death that entrances with the world alone, with interesting characters being a delightful plus.4/5 stars.

Review originally posted on my blog at Book.Blog.Bake. ( )
  Stormydawnc | Jun 23, 2014 |
Im torn, I loved the writing style but there were parts of the story that I didnt like. Ive never read Poes story of this so didnt know what to expect. Its a very dark book with steampunk elements. I will definitely read book 2 to see what happens. ( )
  BookLoversLife | Apr 24, 2014 |
"In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think."

Inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's short story of the same name, Bethany Griffin imagines a world decimated by the plague in Masque of the Red Death. Seventeen-year-old Araby Worth knows too well the horrors of the Weeping Sickness; she lost her twin brother Finn to the disease several years ago, and still blames herself for his death. Their father, the scientist Dr. Worth, designed a mask that filters out the disease; but Araby accidentally claimed the prototype, which was meant for the frail Finn. The masks acclimate to their owners, so that sharing or trading is impossible. Before his father could make a second mask, Finn contracted the plague and died. Dr. Worth saved humanity, but was unable to keep his own family safe.

Araby now spends her days sleeping and her nights getting high in the Debauchery District. She considered suicide, once, but was rescued by her neighbor April. Now best friends, the two belong to the privileged class. High up in the penthouses of the Akkadian Towers, the two are sheltered from much of the poverty and violence below. And while they're lucky enough to afford masks - a whole collection of them, actually - no one in this world remains untouched by the Weeping Sickness.

While she has resigned herself to life, Araby has taken a vow to eschew those things her brother will never experience: a first kiss. Learning to swordfight. Traveling the world. As romance and political intrigue seep through the walls she's built around herself, Araby finds her resolve tested: first by Will, the dark and mysterious tester at the Debauchery Club, and then by April's brother Elliott, who has rebellion on the brain.

Elliot loves the city, and cannot bear to see it destroyed by his uncle, Prince Prospero. While the city crumbles, the Prince lives a life of luxury in his castle outside the city. The Prince has exploited the plague to serve his own political purposes; he has "made an industry out of death and disease." Through a little kidnapping and hostage-taking, the prince has placed nearly all of the city's scientists under his authoritative thumb. The filters to the masks are manufactured solely at the castle, so that the prince alone controls sickness and health. Likewise, when Dr. Worth sought to fix what he saw as a malfunction in the masks, the Prince prohibited him from doing so: "He was pleased that the poor couldn't steal them from the faces of the rich." Class warfare at its deadliest.

As if this landscape isn't dire enough, there's a new - even deadlier - sickness sweeping through the city: the Red Death. Not even the masks can keep it at bay.

Dark and macabre, Griffin's Masque of the Red Death is a worthy successor to Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death." (In many ways, the book can be read as a sequel to story, as Prince Pospero's infamous masquerade ball is just commencing as the book ends. The second installment of the duology, Dance of the Red Death, will presumably focus on the events of the ball.)

While the exact setting of the story remains vague, clues point to mid-nineteenth century Europe (western) or America (East coast). The guards brandish muskets; the women sport whale bone corsets, and traditionally favored long skirts (that is, until the plague necessitated the showing of skin for transparency and quick diagnoses); and coal-powered steam carriages and boats replaced horse-drawn carriages once all the horses succumbed to the plague. There's a little bit of a steampunk vibe here (particularly in Kent's flying machine), as well as shades of alternate history. It's a refreshing change of pace from the futuristic, post-apocalyptic science fiction I normally read.

A high school English teacher, Griffin's writing is masterful: rich in detail and feeling, lavish, and highly evocative. The juxtaposition of unimaginable wealth and opulence with crippling poverty and decay is palpable, like a vise squeezing your heart until it threatens to pop. And Araby (not to mention supporting characters April, Elliott, and Will) is a wonderfully complex character. We see her evolve from a twin racked by survivor's guilt to a more complete, whole person. Instead of denying herself happiness as recompense for Finn's death, she begins to open herself to the possibility that she should live for Finn, to honor his memory. Such a beautiful and heartwarming metamorphosis, this.

Masque of the Red Death is one of those books that just holds you captive and demands to be read. (Three hours past your bedtime? Uh-uh, sorry. Haven't eaten all day? Too bad. Gotta pee like a wild mustang? JUST A FEW MORE LINES OKAY!) Not only that, but it also inspired me to revisit Poe, which I haven't read in many years; quite possibly not since high school. I'm excited but not a little nervous for the sequel, which received mixed reviews. Fingers, crossed.

This one's definitely a must for: admirers of Edgar Allen Poe; fans of the Victorian era; those fascinated by plagues throughout history; readers who love great ya dystopias and imaginative world building.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2014/04/14/masque-of-the-red-death-by-bethany-griffin/ ( )
  smiteme | Mar 28, 2014 |
I was surprised how much I enjoyed Masque of the Red Death. I admit that I mostly bought this book for it's cover, and wasn't at all impressed by the synopsis. However, the writing, story, and narration were fantastic. I am eagerly anticipating the second book.

The main character, Araby, is a believable and refreshing character. She has a story behind her, and one to come. Her voice develops the story to a beautiful novel. There is a fine line between a tragic, realistic, raw narration and a plain irritatingly broody and whiny one. Thankfully, Araby, and all the characters in the story, are the first. I hope in the second book the author keeps the lines just as clear.

The disease was very interesting, unlike what I first though. It is not just another illness and cure story. There is more than that! Ohhh! I get excited just thinking about the plot in this book! It twisted and amazed me throughout the entire story! Bethany Griffins imagination is incredible.

Sometimes I thought things seemed a bit rushed a the end. It kind of took a quick turn and then ended. Needless to say, I wasn't the biggest fan if the end. However, it did make me immediately add the next book, Dance of the Red Death, to my to-read list on goodreads.

As of the love interests, Will and Elliot, I am not sure which team I am, they both have these major faults... But are still amazingly written and I liked them anyway. April, Araby's friend, is another broken character done well. She is maddeningly realistic. She hides behind a pretty dress. But she is still very strong.

Overall, I would recommend this to fans of imaginative, beautiful writing. Griffin keeps you on the edge of your seat in this gripping tale!

4/5 bookcases

P.S It is a little depressing and dark, but in a well written way, that has you glued to the pages. It adds to this book's charm, unlike other books I have read. Masque of the Red Death is a treasure of a book.
( )
  Emily_Anne | Mar 16, 2014 |
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In this twist on Edgar Allen Poe's gothic short story, a wealthy teenaged girl who can afford a special mask to protect her from the plague that decimated humanity in the mid-1800s, falls in love, becomes caught up in a conspiracy to overthrow an oppressive government, and faces the threat of a new plague.… (more)

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