Book Reviews, Reviews

Review: Masque of the Red Death (Bethany Griffin)

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Summary (From

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.

: Bethany Griffin
Length: 319 pages
Series: #1 of Masque of the Red Death
Source: Gollancz Geeks

Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★

My opinion:

Araby Worth, daughter to the infamous Dr. Worth, spends her life seeking escape from a pain no one understands.  Dr. Worth invented the porcelain masks that protect people from the plague, but there is a limitation: each mask can only be used once – there can be no sharing or stealing, and so they can only be afforded by the richest citizens.  Raised to riches due to her father’s invention, Araby and her family live in a nice apartment in a nice area, protected from the plague and crime that run rampant throughout the city.

Guilt-ridden and heartbroken, Araby spends her evenings at The Debauchery Club with April, drinking and doing drugs to reach oblivion.  It’s there that she meets Will, who can finally make her feel something other than the numbness she’s been striving for.  As crime grows, more die, and rumours of individuals who want to overthrow the rich Prince Prospero surface, Araby eventually has to decide between continuing her drug-fuelled haze, or getting involved. Even if she can resist the oblivion that has been her security blanket until now, should she dare to get involved? With so many players and untold secrets, how can she decide who to trust?

The characters in Masque of the Red Death are great. I admit that I wasn’t sure about Araby and April at first. Driving through the poorer areas of town in April’s steam carriage to get to a club and get drunk or high felt a bit like they were playing at living dangerously, and at first I wasn’t very sympathetic to them. They did both grow on me throughout the book though, particularly as more is revealed about each of them.

There is a love triangle in this, and Araby is drawn to both Elliot and Will. I don’t want to say too much about them because the blurb is purposefully vague and I don’t want to ruin that! I will say the love triangle didn’t particularly bother me.  I had a definite preference for who she should choose, and although I liked the other character, my overall preference didn’t waver.  The love triangle also didn’t feel forced as many do, but more a reflection of the other choices going on throughout the book.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the cover is stunning and the book really lived up to that.  The setting is gorgeous, and Griffin’s writing is wonderfully evocative. I could so clearly see the porcelain masks, the buildings and the plague-infected people.  The atmosphere was great, and I literally didn’t want to put this down. I had to pick my sister up when I was about 50 pages from the end, so I deliberately arrived early just so I could finish it in peace without having to check the clock constantly!  All in all, I loved Masque of the Red Death, and I’ll definitely be reading the second book.

Buy it? This one is definitely a keeper for me – worth buying.
In a nutshell: Loved it, one of my favourites so far this year.

Other Reviews of Masque of the Red Death: Once Upon A Time | My Friends are Fiction | Bookish Comforts

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