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SA Partridge

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Review: Masque of the Red Death

I was given an advanced reading copy of YA author Bethany Griffin’s novel The Masque of the Red Death, based on Edgar Allan Poe’s famous story of the same name. The novel is due for release in May, and I’m confident its going to blow The Hunger Games and Divergent (the current bestsellers) right out of the water.

The Masque of the Red Death is set in a post-apocalypic steampunk world crippled by plague. The rich live in fairy tale towers surrounded by zeppelins and amuse themselves at extravagant parties fueled by drugs and alcohol to help them forget.

Seventeen year old Araby Worth’s father is a scientist, and because of his status, the family is able to live among the richest of the rich, far from the menace of plague in the lower city. Araby sees herself as a walking dead girl, still mourning the loss of her twin brother Finn. Nothing gets past her heart of stone, until she meets the mysterious tattooed Will.

If a first crush wasn’t complicated enough, Araby finds herself caught up in an impending revolution brewing in the lower city, which means that soon not even porcelain gas masks and armoured carriages can keep the city’s privileged few safe. Araby is forced to choose between the right and wrong path, but which is which?

The novel is hard to put down, and I really struggled to re-enter the real world after being enraptured by the world encased in its pages. The Debauchery Club, for example, is an elite club reserved for the rich and elite, where ladies don their finest corsets and fake eyelashes, and men while away the hours smoking opium and reading occult literature. The descriptions suck you in head first, so that you’re right there, treading the Persian carpet in your finest heels, your fingers trailing over the dusty bookshelves.

The author has created a lush, decadent world juxtaposed against a city reminiscent of London during the plague years, where corpse collectors trawl the grim streets collecting the dead from families haunted by death.

Bethany Griffin’s latest novel is a lyrical gothic tale that is a worthy tribute to Edgar Allen Poe’s most famous story. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from my agent, so it’s great to see the hype building around this novel. I’m sure its going to be a best seller (and hopefully a movie).


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Cat Hellisen</a>
    Cat Hellisen
    March 13th, 2012 @16:04 #

    I am dying to read this. *pokes May*


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