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4.26.2012

Review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
Young Adult, Dystopian
Hardcover $17.99 (336 pages, GREENWILLOW BOOKS)
Ebook $9.99
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.
Author Site: bethanygriffin.com



Twisted, Dark, and Quite Enjoyable (4 stars)

A city savaged by disease and the ruler who would control the populace through the ability to prevent it. Scientists and soldiers bought through intimidation. Young people with no hope for a future luxuriating in the glamour of the Debauchery Club. Araby Worth watches her world crumbling through a haze of unknown drugs and glittery eye-makeup, attempting to uphold a vow she made when her twin brother died. Because Finn will never experience love or adventure, Araby vows she will never know the same.

In the club she's confronted with the mysterious and handsome Will, a boy from the lower city with something to fight for. Then there's Elliot, the beautiful and dangerous aristocrat who needs her aid. It's only natural the two should inspire unwanted feelings in her but the secrets they keep could be fatal. Insanity and despair reign as Araby struggles to find a reason to live, something worth fighting for.

It's been so long since I read Poe's original short story I can honestly say I don't remember it. But as with his work there is always a hint of dark desperation, Griffin's MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is dark and depressing in all the right ways. The city itself is a living thing, a body in the throws of death, shuddering and shaking with fear. Plague ravaged and oppressed by their 'prince' the people have nothing to hope for, nothing to live for. There is only agony and death. It is that one flaw that does make it a little difficult not to pick apart. If you can get past the kind of questions that unravel the world building you'll find a story that's enjoyable in it's twistedness.

Araby is a little tough to like. She's very... self-absorbed. Emotionally she seems a bit stunted. It lends itself well to the story but does make her hard to connect with. What little she does seem to feel, such as her attraction to Will, she fights with her 'vow'. The vow itself is pretty stupid, the sort a child makes and at her age you'd think would have been given up on. Her trips to the Debauchery Club lack any actual debauchery. But she isn't without likable qualities too. She sets out to do what she thinks is the right thing early on and doesn't become vengeful when others would have.

On the whole it was Elliot and Will I actually enjoyed more than Araby. The contrast in the two, how they were choosing to work given the circumstances made them immensely more interesting to me, and it was obvious why Araby was drawn to them. The story ends not quite on a cliff-hanger but in such a way I was left with too many questions for my taste. I would definitely read a sequel just to see where Griffin plans to take this world and the characters she placed into it. I enjoyed it and think those who like twisted, dark, futuristic, somewhat neo-victorian dystopians will find it a worthy read.




Other Reviews:
All Things Urban Fantasy
Tynga's Reviews
Krystle Yanagihara
SpadesHighReads

Notes: ARC received via Amazon Vine.

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