*This title will be released on April 24, 2012*
|Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Steampunk YA
Reviewed by: Kristina
Everything is in ruins.
A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.
So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.
But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets.
And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH felt like a massively lavish and gothic prologue to Edgar Allen Poe’s short story by the same name. In Bethany Griffin’s tale the rich are privileged enough to live in secluded areas and wear masks to protect them from the Weeping Sickness while the poor are left to await the corpse collectors to carry away their loved ones. While the masks are meant to be protection, I got a distinctly creepy vibe at the thought of people wandering the streets with half their faces frozen as if the living are wearing reminders of the death they were trying to avoid every day.
Araby, a suitably tragic character for a gothic tale, is one of the fortunate mask wearers who is not only trapped behind her mask, but by her grief over her brother Finn’s death which she blames herself for.Throughout the story Araby denies herself everything that her brother can’t experience anymore including intimacy with emotion numbing drugs that often leave her passed out in clubs.
The love triangle was complex in the sense that I kept changing who I felt Araby should be with every time some new bit of information came up about Elliot or Will. Both guys had their positive and negative qualities. Will is poor and taking care of his siblings while working at the Debauchery Club that Araby meets him at. Elliot is an artist type trying to rebel against Prince Prospero; the tyrannical ruler of their land who does all he can to deny the poor protection from the Weeping Sickness. But both were deceptive or exhibited frightening behaviour towards Araby multiple times in the story. There wasn’t really a romance per se as Araby spent a lot of the book wanting to but denying herself the pleasure of kissing. I don’t necessarily agree with who she appears to choose in the end since one guy’s negative qualities outweighs the other’s significantly from my perspective.
It was fun noting the allusions to the original Masque of the Red Death work while reading Griffin’s retelling which expertly matched Poe’s tale in tone and style. I loved the beautiful gothic descriptions of this world though it did take me awhile to get used to the first person present tense and the story started off slow, but once the action picked up the story didn’t drag as much. MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH weaves a compelling tale in a dark homage to Poe’s classic gothic horror story.