Author – Kiera.
My review this week is going to be a bit different. Sort of a three in one. I originally saw Masque of the Red Death while on the hunt for Steam Punk and Dystopian books on Goodreads. It was only after I picked it up that I realised it was based on the novel of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. So this is where it gets tricky. Bethany Griffin wrote two full novels and a novella based on the original short story, and I have read them all. To be able to reference it properly I thought I should read the original too. Which means this review will be a combination of my thoughts on them all.
Edgar Allan Poe’s short story is based around Prince Prospero and his attempts to avoid the Red Death that is ravaging the lands, by barricading himself in his castle with one thousand guests and throwing lavish masquerade balls. The masquerades are set within seven rooms, each with their own theme and each more disturbing than the last. It is important to note that Prince Prospero is missing a fair few of his marbles. This quote sums it up perfectly for me – ‘There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible and not a little of that which might have excited disgust’.
Bethany Griffin’s stories take from this idea and spin it into a world of misery and death and an interesting set of characters, while keeping all of the strange atmosphere in Poe’s version. It is based around our main protagonist, Araby Worth. The world has been ripped apart by plague and her father is a scientist that has invented masks that protect people from contagion. The only problem is that Prospero is in charge of distribution of the masks, which means only those who can afford to pay for them are protected. Araby is tormented by the death of her twin brother Finn, and to try and escape the pain she spends a lot of her time in the Debauchery Club with her best friend April. They drink, take drugs and generally try to forget the horrors of the world around them. Here is where we meet Will and Elliot. Will works at the club and Araby is drawn to his tattoos and dark tousled hair. Elliot is April’s brother and he recruits Araby to help his cause to try and make the city a better place – which means taking control away from Prospero. I’m sure you can see where this is going – love triangle anyone?
Dance of the Red Death is where you can really see the influence of Poe’s novel on this story. The masquerade takes place in this book, and it is just as intense and strange. I really liked the progression of the characters throughout both of these books. There are many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and they all seem to force the characters forward with decisions they make. From what I have seen there is a divide between Will lovers and Elliot lovers. I am firmly in the Will camp. They both do horrible things, but I think I understand Will’s actions more.
These books feel equally character and story line driven, and in a way the world building is a character in itself. I could clearly picture the city and the club, the swamp filled with crocodiles and the porcelain masks they wore. No detail is left out and it makes for a vibrant reading experience.
I was looking for a gritty Dystopian novel and I certainly got that, with Steampunk elements and a gothic twist too!