Bethany Griffin’s debut novel Masque of the Red Death is an amazing start to a new paranormal series. Araby lives in a dying world that has been overcome by a plague. The only way she and the few others remaining have stayed alive is by avoiding human contact and always wearing their masks to filter the air they breath. To make things worse, her parents barely realize she exists. Since the death of her brother, Araby’s father has consumed himself with his inventions and her mother just doesn’t really notice her. But things are changing, Araby’s best friend’s brother has return to the city and has asked her for help. She has met someone who actually makes her feel a small spark of hope in her world of guilt and despair.
Melissa Marr described this book as “haunting and beautiful”, and I think that is the perfect description for this book. You can really feel the ghosts that haunt Araby in her voice. She starts feeling so much despair in her life that the emotions just resonate with you long after you have put the book down. However, I am excited to see how Griffin develops Araby. She has already started to change from someone seeking to escape to someone who wants to fight. I have a feeling that she is going to emerge from the series as a very strong individual. Typically I am not a fan of the love triangles that are such a constant in young adult literature, but I am really intrigued by this one. Griffin has kept us guessing as to which side each of the boys are on, making it a very compelling side story-line. This is an excellent dark tale with steampunk elements that is sure to win over readers and having them anxiously awaiting book two.