Masque of the Red Death
April 24, 2012
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Araby Worth, the daughter of the city's most famous scientist spends her nights at the Debauchery Club with her friend April. The girls in their glittery make-up and cut-off skirts are looking for something. Something to live for, something to enjoy in this desolate world filled with despair and so, so much death.
At the Club she meets Will, the young owner of the club . . . and Elliot the young but dangerous aristocrat. Both of whom will lead Araby down very different path but who might also give her that something she was looking for - if not more.
Masque of the Red Death, a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Masque of the Red Death" is Bethany Griffin's second novel after her December 2008 contemporary Handcuffs*. Masque was maybe supposed to be set in the same time period as Poe's tale but it was hard to tell - there was talk of the long dresses they wore before the plague, the horses they used to use and there was little to no technology. It could also have been set in a plague ravaged future that had sort of a reverse renaissance before the plague hit as well.
With the few bits of steampunk added in, however, it felt like an altered Victorian era setting
The premise of a story is fantastic. A city that's been ravaged by a plague. Where the air is too dangerous to breathe and everyone - or nearly everyone - is fearing death at every turn. Things are getting more and more dangerous by the day, with uprisings seemingly imminent. Class warfare still exists as the rich have the money to buy the masks that will filter the air and keep you alive . . . But I felt some kind of disconnect between the characters and the plot.
I liked the characters okay and I liked the plot but I wasn't ever that invested in what was happening to the characters or who was taking part in the plot (if that makes sense). There were times when I knew something might happen to one of the characters but it didn't react how I would have liked to (or enough at all).
When there was a lot of action going on plot-wise I felt the characters were weaker and when the we got to learn more about the characters, the plot was weaker - there wasn't great balance.
What (and who) I liked most was Will and those involved with him (won't say who for spoiler sake) towards the end. That might lead me to pick up the second book and see what happens.
(Check out the Goodreads page for reviews from a lot of people who loved the book, though)
Thank you to the publisher for my advance copy of this book
*Masque appears to be on a lot of debut challenge lists, it's actually Griffin's sophomore YA novel, though