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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Series: Masque of the Red Death #1
Young Adult
Pages: 319
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Steampunk

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 around them.

     So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
     Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . 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 is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.
     And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for--no matter what it costs her.
*Purchased this novel of my own accord*

It has been a little over a year since this book came out, longer than that since I heard and fell hard for the drop-dead gorgeous cover it claims. Here I am now, finally, happily finished with the Masque of the Red Death. I've heard this story most of my life when reading about Edgar Allen Poe and I'm sure most of the readers who have read this book had as well. It's a classic Gothic masterpiece written my Poe. Bethany Griffin took that masterpiece and put it to good use in the making of her rendition of Masque of the Red Death and I was thoroughly pleased with how the novel came to be.

The world is in turmoil. Death and disease ravage the city, corpse collectors roam the streets with citizens throw their loved ones into the carts. Seventeen-year-old Araby Worth has grown up through this world in shambles. Her life had halted the day her twin brother, Finn, had passed away from the plague. A vow she made to him is all she has left to hold onto. So to pass her days and the chaos all around her, Araby and her friend April glamour themselves up to enter the Debauchery Club to lose themselves in the pleasures it has to offer them that the world cannot. There Araby comes into contact with two very important gentlemen that will begin to test the vow she has made to her deceased twin, Elliott, the elder brother of April and the nephew of the crazed Prince Prospero who dominates the entire infested city, and Will who works in the Debauchery Club to raise enjoy money to watch over the health and safety of his younger brother and sister. Between the two of them stepping into Araby's life simultaneously, she becomes overwhelmed to make a change in the lives of others as well as herself.

Scenery and detail provide the enchanting essence of Griffin's extravagantly mystifying retelling. Masque of the Red Death too my breath away solely with the porcelain masks used to cleanse the illness coursing through the taint air, the grim streets and brutal violence that death haunts day and night, how murder is so commonplace in Araby's world because death is inevitable where those who have been infected can be killed by another's hand for any reason purely because they will die soon anyway. I shudder at the though of something like this happening in the world today. I see people walking around me with masks from time to time, even around campus. The though of everyone wearing masks to stop from breaking in contagion littering the once fresh air, again I shudder. All of the Gothic elements that Edgar Allen Poe weaves together in his tales were astoundingly astute in Griffin's version of Masque of the Red Death.

I have to admit, and many of my readers know my abhorrence towards love triangles, but something about both Elliott and Will each tugged at something in me. Now, I'm not saying that I was enamored by the triangle, I only accepted it. Both of these male characters had substance to makes them tolerable in the triangle while the helped bring out pieces of Araby that she shunned away to keep her vow to Finn. Unfortunately, that vow locked away Araby from truly living and set her down a path of clubs, glitter, gowns, and drugs. Her life paused the moment that vow was created and Finn was dead. I also happen to be on the fence when thinking about how Elliott and Will are beneficial or detrimental to Araby's character development. They are beneficial in regards to her opening up about her past and wanting to help save the world from the disease and the madness that Prince Prospero has the people drowning in. Yet they are detrimental to making her own choices, taking orders, and possibly dependent on the two in order to break away from beating herself up about her late brother rather than accepting it on her own accord.

Final Summation: Poe lovers are sure to enjoy this young adult retelling of the MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. I know that I did. I loved it. The grim and Gothic setting, the despair and the glimpse of rebellion. The inner workings of the madness of the Prince Prospero from a different window. The author does a fantastic job of keeping the key elements of the original, the apple not straying too far from the tree. MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is a decedent and delicious tale with dystopian-steampunk elements and just the right touch of romance to keep things interesting.

First Line: The charcoal sky spits cold rain as we rumble to a stop at the crossroad.
Story: S 
Cover: XS