Series: Masque of the Red Death #1
Published by HarperCollins on 2012-04-24
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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.
Wow, I really enjoyed this book. I finished reading it one day and went out and bought my own copy the next. I had planned on reading it for a while and kept seeing it pop up in recommendations, but I wasn’t quite sure it would live up to all the hype. As a reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, I was worried that it might fall a little flat. But it did not. Griffin’s version was dark, haunting, emotional, and very well written.
In Masque of the Red Death, we first meet Araby as she’s on her way to the Debauchery Club with her best (only) friend April. On the road, we are given a pretty thorough look into the city and how the plague has affected the majority of the population. We see the bodies, the collectors, the ones left behind. The sadness, disease, decay. Nothing is left out. At the Debauchery Club, which is membership only, we see how the others, those with money, deal with the effects of the plague. We learn about the drugs, the sex, the ways people try to forget what life is like now. Later, we will find out why Araby visits the club, why she invites the oblivion of the Debauchery Club, and the things she is trying to forget. The club is also where we meet Will, the handsome worker who catches Araby’s eye early on, and Elliot, April’s brother who is secretive and mysterious and smart. As the book progresses, we learn more about Prince Prospero, who rules the city, and those who are fighting to overthrow him. The book is filled with secrets, danger, evil, and disease. But there is also good. Good things that may help Araby change her ways.
I really enjoyed Bethany Griffin’s world building. I know it is frustrating to some that there is never any specific time or place mentioned, but I think the description of the world is enough. It could be anywhere, anytime. And I liked that. There was plenty of explanation for how the world became what it was in the book and even a few twists that will hopefully come into full light in the second book. I’m hoping Griffin really surprises us with Dance of the Red Death!
I also liked the characters and the depth that Griffin gave to each of them. I was surprised to learn the histories of some of the characters and I liked that they didn’t turn out to be exactly who I thought they might be. Both Elliot’s and Will’s actions towards the end of the book caught me off guard. I was definitely not a fan of Elliot’s early on. He seemed creepy to me and I didn’t like that he was using Araby without telling her anything. But I liked his progression in the book and understood his actions later on. Similarly with Will, I was happy to see his behavior outside of the club later on and was surprised by his even later actions, though I did understand his reasons. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m going to leave it at that. I know I have a preference between the two male leads of my own, but my choice isn’t the one that matters.
The end of Masque of the Red Death was perfect for me. There is a little cliff hanger, but when I read it, I thought that was it. I didn’t know there was a second book planned. The openness of the ending seemed perfect in a world where no one really knew what was going to happen next. Of course, know that I know a second one is coming out, I couldn’t be happier. Bethany Griffin’s re-imagining of Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death was perfect. After reading the original, I have a few theories on how the second half of Griffin’s story might go, but I have no doubt that her version will be way better than anything I could imagine. I gave Masque of the Red Death 4 stars and am eagerly awaiting the release of the finale!