Friday, April 20, 2012

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Title:  Masque of the Red Death
Author:  Bethany Griffin
Series:  Masque of the Red Death
Publisher:  Greenwillow, an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Date:  April 24, 2012
Source:  ARC

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 was highly anticipating this novel, especially after reading some awesome reviews from those I trust most in the bookish world. However, even when the masses are fawning over a book, I like to go in with a clear head and no expectations so that I can fully appreciate the book for what it is, not what I’ve been told it is. Still, I shouldn’t have been surprised to be instantly grabbed by this book. Drugs, debauchery, betrayal…this book didn’t waste any time getting to the good stuff.

The world Araby lives in isn’t terribly difficult to imagine. She lives in a decaying city, surrounded by marshlands and full of crumbling buildings, remnants of a time before the plague hit. Crocodiles and plague-riddled bats are a real fear. The wealthy drive steam carriages and careen through the vestiges of streets that have long since seen better days, while the impoverished live on the other side of the city, covering their faces in cloth since they cannot afford the porcelain masks that the wealthy wear to hinder the contagion in the air. There will always be the haves and have-nots, and never is that more obvious than in times of despair and desolation.

Araby is ruined, tragic, and more than a smidge self-deprecating. But she is also moral and kind. Araby harbors insurmountable guilt over the death of her twin brother. To assuage this guilt, she demeans herself, along with her friend April, in the Debauchery District, where all manner of depravity can be found. There are sexual encounters in dark corners and casual drug use and underage drinking, but in the society remaining after the destruction caused by the plague, this doesn’t seem uncommon or even illegal, and so it seems appropriate, considering how the world has progressed thus far.

Despite her best efforts, and a vow to her dead brother, Araby finds herself the unlikely love interest of two very different boys. Differences notwithstanding, both boys have something to offer Araby. They’re not just pretty faces, vying for the attention of a beautiful girl. Elliott, although arrogant and of questionable motives, is not what I expected from a poetry-writing university guy. He shows Araby that she is strong and capable of making much-needed changes in their decaying world. And he wants her by his side so that they can enact these changes together. Will, on the other hand, is sweet and honorable and also not what I expected, considering he’s pretty much a tattooed bouncer at the club frequented by Araby and April in their quest to forget the world around them. It’s because of Will that Araby overcomes her survivor’s guilt and lives for her brother Finn instead of denying herself pleasures because of his death.

Both boys are clear about their feelings with Araby, but it takes Araby a lot longer to trust Elliott because of his questionable motives. The problem with this triangle is not that it exists; it’s that I liked both boys so much. Many times I switched teams in this one, only to be swayed to the other side again. I loved seeing how both sides lived, for Will lived on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak, and Elliott lived a spoiled life of decadence, much like the one Araby was accustomed to. My only regret is that it took Araby so long to realize she felt something more for Elliott, but honestly, I don’t think I could’ve trusted the guy with my heart either, especially when he says things like this:

“And I’m falling in love with you,” he whispers. “But I would throw you in the water and watch crocodiles tear you to bits, if I thought that doing so would accomplish my goals. Do. Not. Trust. Anyone. Especially me.”
But even so, I think Elliott stole my heart. His brutal honesty won me over, I guess.

This book will definitely make it to my list of top reads this year. Between the gritty, desolate surroundings and the rich, lavish lifestyles and even the disparity between the characters, I could not put this book of contrasts down. It was such a strange, entrancing mix of everything I love to see – a dystopian society, steampunk and gothic elements, and a budding romance – and it all came together to produce this amazing novel. It’s absolutely one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I’m actually kind of scared to pick up another book so soon, for fear that nothing I read for awhile will compare.

Rating:  Photobucket

Book-A-Likes:  obviously Poe's version, Wither by Lauren Destefano, or Legend by Marie Lu



  1. Yay I'm glad you liked this book! I loved it too!! And I love that quote! Great review!! :)

  2. ooh..i am major jealous this is on my wish list..drugs, debauchery and trouble *squeals*..excellent review!

  3. Great review! :) I so need to read this too!
    New follower!

    Monaliz @ Mind Reading?

  4. WOW!! AWESOME REVIEW, happy you enjoyed reading it ... I'm getting this book soon ... can't wait to read it :)

  5. Oh, yeah. I definitely have to read this one. Loved the quote! No way could I fall for a guy who said that... could I?? Ahhh, my curiosity is piqued!! Great review!

  6. I am SO excited that you enjoyed this so much, Jen! Yay. Love the quote you pulled!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  7. I have been waiting for a book like this for forever! I don't even know where to begin I just loved this! It was creepy, gothic, dark, icky, depressing, and just all out amazing.
    Set in a time where a plaque like disease has almost wiped out the humans Abray lives the life that most don't. She has a porcelain mask that helps protect her from the germs that cause this disease. When her best friend is taken she is asked to help find her and help in a rebellion against the evil Prince. With no other alternatives she gives her trust to Elliot and so starts her journey to uncovering many many truths that she never saw coming.
    I have to say this book was right up my alley. I love a good story that has twists and boy oh boy this one delivers. At one point my mouth actually dropped because I never saw that punch coming! It was brilliant. I am really at a loss for words with this one because it was just that good. My review will never do the book justice. Please pick this book up you won't regret it at all! I give the author major credit for writing such a depressing book but making it so intricate and detailed that the reader just wants to hope for the best in every situation.

  8. I really can't recommend Masque of the Red Death enough. Don't miss out on it! It is a dark read but it's so creative and captivating. I dying for the sequel.
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