A Multitude of Dreams

Inkyard. Sept. 2023. 384p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781335457967.
Gr 9 Up–A bloody plague known as the mori roja has ravaged Goslind and the surrounding areas in this Gothic remix of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Mask of the Red Death.” Princess Imogen’s father, King Stuart, has sheltered and literally locked the royal family and other nobles in their castle to protect themselves while others perished. Elsewhere in the land, Nico’s family has been annihilated by the plague, while he survived as one of few with immunity. Alone and without resources, Nico is taken in by Lord Crane to work in his manor as a servant in exchange for room and board. At first Nico views Crane as a savior of sorts, until he begins piecing together some things that make him suspicious. Nico and Princess Imogen’s situations connect when Crane sends Nico on an expedition to the castle, Eldridge Hall, in search of survivors. Readers discover a plot twist early on that Princess Imogen has a secret, and her character takes on a whole new persona that invokes empathy. She is actually a spirited Jewish girl named Seraphina who was snatched away from her family as a look-alike to impersonate the secretly deceased real Princess Imogen. Rutherford incorporates Jewish history into the tale via anti-Semitism that resulted in Jews being blamed for plagues, leading to the genocide of their people. Seraphina and Nico begin a slow burn romance while attempting to take on grotesque monsters both literal and figurative as the pace intensifies. Side characters Greymount and Colin are welcome additions who bring humor to the dark tone.
VERDICT A creepalicious fall read incorporating horror, mystery, and a touch of romance.

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