Staff Review: The Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Why I checked it out: A dystopian take on Edgar Allen Poe’s short story? Yes, please!

What it’s about: Araby Worth lives in a land decimated by a plague. The rich are protected by porcelain masks and the poor are left vulnerable. Her father is a prominent scientist and so she is insulated from much of the horror. However, she cannot escape the memory of her brother’s death, though she tries by spending her nights at the Debauchery Club. While there, she meets two boys and soon finds herself caught up in a potential rebellion.

Why I liked it: The world-building was great. I enjoy a dark setting, thus my love of Poe, and Griffin’s descriptions of a dystopian city crumbling under the weight of sickness, despair, and civil unrest were real and haunting.

What I didn’t like: I didn’t enjoy Araby’s voice. She wants to escape from her sadness and guilt, and often turns to drugs as a remedy. Because of that, her understanding and recollection of events is dream-like and surreal. As a plot device and tone setting, it’s smart. As a reader, it drove me crazy. I wanted to know what was happening and it was maddening that the narrator of the story couldn’t give me answers.  Nonetheless, I’ll probably read the sequel, “Dance of the Red Death,” which is due out in April.

About Dana

Book-nerd, music-maven, movie-fanatic. Teen book display goddess. Purveyor of fine booklists.
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