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. ~From GoodReads
Set against the backdrop of plague-ridden humanity, MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, is nothing less than stunning. And I would expect no less from a book based on the classic by Edgar Allen Poe. The world has gone to hell. The wealthy wear masks to protect themselves. The poor are left defenseless. Carts roll through the streets collecting bodies. Prince Prosperous rules through fear and intimidation. But when Araby finds the opportunity to help bring about new hope for humanity, can she do it, despite the risks?
Author Griffin paints a morose, depressing, stunning portrait of a world gone nearly mad. I felt utterly entrenched in the story, the stakes involved. The sheer hopelessness and desperation that threaten to overwhelm main character, Araby Worth, is palpable. I found myself covering my own mouth as Araby ventured into the open, dangerous outdoors. I wanted to cover myself in clothes so I couldn't be infected by the Red Death. [sidenote: I tend to get a little too involved in books. My kids, like most little ones, are germy little creatures. But I'm fairly certain they don't carry the plague.]
The social statement of MASQUE was obvious, and relevant. Much like real-life tyrants (I'm thinking Hussein, Kim Jong-Il), Prince Prospero is living a life of grandiose proportions while the poor suffer. I was struck by the decadence in the midst of chaos. The activities in the Debauchery Club were almost sickening in the face of the disaster outside the doors.
And although I enjoyed the story, I was also bothered. It's a case, though, of "It's Not You, It's Me". The story had to be depressing. It had to be harsh and cruel. But I found myself being drug down into a depressive spiral. I had to take breaks, gain my bearings, and dive back in. That's actually a compliment to Griffin, to her ability to pull readers in and shroud them in the emotions of the characters.
Now for the guys. You know I couldn't leave Will and Elliott out, right? I've seen many, many conversations debating the hotness of Will vs. Elliott. And that's going to cue a mini-rant. *deep breath* Elliott? Come on. Yes, I know he is very emotionally damaged. And he's complicated. But when a guy tells you not to trust him, says he would kill you if it meant gaining an advantage, and goes so far as threatening to prove his point? LISTEN TO HIM. Don't over think it, ladies, or make excuses. Run for the hills and don't look back. Having said that, his character did make strides towards become a less horrible person, but I don't know if I could ever root for him. Ever. Now for Will. Ninety-five percent of the time, I loved him. He was tragic, and beautiful and wonderful. His big flaw is actually not his fault, nothing I could blame him for. Make sense? I didn't think so. :-) So I guess if I had to choose a "Team", I would undoubtedly be "Team Will", but not very enthusiastic.
MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH has all the elements of a hit: tragic, flawed, but engaging characters; a gripping, suspenseful story; strong, beautiful writing. It's an intense story of deception, chaos, love and possible redemption. Ultimately, MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is a book the reading community will love. Of that, I have no doubt.
"One white flower blooms on the vine.
'It only opens at midnight, and only for a few hours, when the full moon is directly overhead. Maybe someone planted it here before the plague, when the world was hopeful. At the end of the day, after sweeping the floors and cleaning up the vomit, I come here. It reminds me that there are still beautiful things.' "(pg. 105-6, ARC)
Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: April 24th 2012 by Harper Collins
You can pre-order Masque of the Red Death at:
Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon
Source: Received for an ARC tour hosted by Southern Book Bloggers. Thanks, ladies!