Friday, August 3, 2012

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Release date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 319
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
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. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

I'm an unabashed fan of all things dark. Therefore anything by Edgar Allan Poe is a little bit like crack to me. I took the time to read Poe's story that inspired the book before I started, and fell in love with it. It has a very distinctive feel and is something I imagine would be hard to catch by anyone who isn't Edgar Allan Poe. Luckily, Bethany Griffin did it, and it made her book work on so many levels and made me desperate for more.

The setting of The Masque of the Red Death is nonspecific but it has the appealing look and feel of the darker, more dangerous and mysterious parts of New Orleans, Paris, or maybe even Vienna without all the water. It's so fitting for the story and works to enhance the already palpable eerie feel. The porcelain masks, the Debauchery Club, and rich dresses only add to the idea. Honestly, what makes this book memorable and so worth your time is the immersing setting and vibe.

I found Araby to be an appealing and easy to understand protagonist. She's deeply mourning the loss of her beloved brother, forgoing the good parts of life that he will miss. She spends her nights at the Debauchery Club, trying to forget and pass the time. She finds herself caught between Will and Elliot, two very different men with two different causes. I could understand the appeal of each to Araby and could feel her confusion. Sometimes I did want to smack her, but I find that I commonly want to smack the people I love most in the world, so I suppose that is a good sign. :)

The ending was a quick succession of big reveals and shocks for me. I went from heartbroken to angry to crying and to hopeful, all to be heartbroken yet again. The story and its repercussions kept with me for a long time after I finished reading, and I'm just dying to read more.

Risk a paper cut? If only I could get my first read back, I'd be quite alright getting a good number of paper cuts to experience it, and you should too.

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