Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review: Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death
Bethany Griffin
Series: Masque of the Red Death, #1
Release date: April 24th, 2012
by HarperCollins

Goodreads / Purchase
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.
*A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review purposes*

Masque of the Red Death has been my most anticipated book of the year since I discovered it last September. I was obviously first attracted to it by its cover, followed by its premise that talks of a gothic setting, a plague apocalypse, and a Debauchery club… need I say more?

As far as steampunk novels go, this is easily my favorite. I absolutely loved the atmosphere throughout the story. The ruined city, the dangers in the streets, the masks, the disease; it's dark and it's dreary, with intricate details that had me truly envisioning this world in disrepair, full of mortality. The always present danger of this easily contracted death is palpable. It gave me shivers and made me cringe. Bethany clearly did not falter in her world building. Its unwavering somber ambiance constantly propels us in a dying world so different from our own, yet, frighteningly not inconceivable.

Inside this disintegrating world lives Araby. Living with the guilt of losing her twin brother, she's dealing with her grief in form of punishment by not experiencing life to its fullest. Or at least, nothing that Finn didn't get the chance to. This, to me, was incredibly sad. I felt sorry for her especially because she is blinded by her despair; incapacitated. However, when she meets Will with his gorgeous looks, and Elliott with his master plans, things start to improve. Both of these guys are full of charm; even through my misgivings, I kept a liking for both of them. Their vast differences make them both terribly appealing, while their intentions left me with unabated curiosity and doubt.

I would not consider this a very fast paced book. Nevertheless, the literary style kept me completely mesmerized by the vastly detailed world and likeable characters. The writing is noticeably elegant; the beautiful flow creates an experience where a fast pace is not necessary to enjoy its execution. But I still wouldn't have minded digging a little deeper inside the fundamental plot line instead of only getting twists (albeit fascinating) that lead to a big foreshadowing of what's to come.

Since I haven't read Edgar Allen Poe's original work, I can't comment on the comparison, but I was positively impressed with Bethany Griffin's Masque of the Red Death: an exquisitely woven tale both lavish and ominous.

4 Hot Espressos