Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tea Time: Masque of the Red Death

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

Masque of the Red Death, Bethany Griffin

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. (source:goodreads)

Cover-I'll definitely admit that the cover caught my eye, and then the title is what kept my attention. I'm a huge fan of Edgar Allen Poe's work, and Masque of the Red Death is one of my favorite of his short stories, so seeing a YA that revolves around the re-imagining of this tale was kind of fantastic.

The cover itself, though, is like I said: it's attention grabbing, which is everything a cover should be. The splotches of read among what would otherwise be a black and white photograph give it menace, and the way the subject is turned away from the onlooker's sight is a bit mysterious. The entire thing just kind of pops and I find it gorgeous.


Narrative-The book is told in the first person POV in Araby's perspective.For the most part it's smooth reading; you're very much inside her head, and when she's confused, you're confused (speaking most notably about the one/two times she goes on a drug trip).

I'll talk about pacing in the next section (plot) but one of the biggest hiccups in the book (in my opinion) was the world-building. I feel like there was definitely room for more about the setting and the times that Araby lives in. The city has been absolutely desecrated with this sickness that's been around for years, which creates a really interesting atmosphere. Also, toward the end of the book another sickness erupts, called the Red Death, and I felt that, craft-wise, there could have been a better lead up, considering that it just kind of popped up in the middle of a scene. It felt to me like it was being used as just another  strain on the characters.



Plot-I was absolutely ecstatic when I came across this book, since a premise that's based off Poe's short story was pretty much a dream come true.

The aspect of the club life that the rich can afford was also pretty interesting, and struck a chord in me because that's what people do. To escape tragedy, we tend to attempt to escape ourselves, and I think it was carried across really well in the scenes of the Debauchery Club, including Araby's drug usage.

What almost threw me off the book as a whole, however, was when Araby met Elliott, the brother of her best friend, April, who goes missing within the opening chapters. Upon a first secret meeting, Elliott reveals that there's a revolution and he wants Araby to join, which includes stealing blueprints to her father's inventions.

Personally, I think Araby said yes far too quickly and readily. She remarks many times that she, her father, and her mother could all get killed by the reigning prince should those blueprints and information get out, and yet she does it anyway. And then gives them to a boy. A boy she just met. It just didn't flow right with me.

I kept reading, though, and the rest of the plot came and went at a pretty regular and natural pace, with events following one another logically and without going too fast or too slow. Really, if it weren't for that initial "let's get this revolution going" scene, I'd say that the plot was handled pretty well.


Characters-I've already pointed out how I think that Araby was far too quick to enter into the revolution and steal her father's blueprints. Part of that was considering that she's spent years being almost ignored by her parents and blaming herself for her brother's death; she goes tot he clubs with April in order to numb herself and forget the world. So the transition between that and having such a high-risk purpose felt like too big of a jump to have within just a few pages.

Despite that, after awhile she wasn't that bad of a character, always poking the bear when it comes to Elliott, who confused me more than Araby did. He continuously told Araby not to trust him, but he never actually did anything to make me (the reader) not trust him, which I felt was hypocritical.

I guess, overall, the characters could have used a little bit more development.


Would I recommend this book to another? Yes. Am I going to try to find its sequel? Yes. Because, as I've said numerous times, I love the take on Poe's Masque of the Red Death, and this book was a literal lead-in to Prince Prospero letting 1,000 guests into his home and then sealing it off.

Final Answer: 3.25 / 5


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