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 tehm.
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 have heard nothing but amazing things about this book, before I even started reading it, and I knew it was a complete must for me! First let me just say that I am a huge Edgar Allan Poe fan. He has forever been awe-inspiring for me ever since Ive read his works at a young age and honest to god he was one of the main reasons why I wanted to be a writer in the first place. So, when I came across this title, seeing and recognising the title and reading that is was inspired by one of my favourite Poe stories, Masque of the Red Death, there was no denying that I was going to adore this book inside and out! And once again I was right.
MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is a wonderfully-blended steampunk tale about a young teenage girl named Araby Worth, who lives in a plague-stricken city of New Orleans. Being the daughter of a scientist, who is now under the protection of Prince Prospero, she enjoys a somewhat 'glamorous' life athough she is still haunted by the death of her twin brother, Finn, which she can only escape from by partaking in drugs at the Debauchery Club, where her friend April also comes along with her, the niece of the Prince himself. With the city slowly deteriorating with deadly diseases killing nearly half of the population and with so very little masks to be used in order to contain these diseases alone, there is little hope for Araby to survive. But as soon as Araby decides to change her ways, she will not only encounter many dangers that could threaten her and her family, but she will also encounter many questions not only about her family and friends, but also questions about her entire city.
This book literally blew my mind. Not only could I feel the clever familiarities of Poe's story being interwined with this storyline, but I could feel the author's own story as well which was just as beautiful, compelling and seductive as the original. What amazed me with this book was that it was nothing like anything out there in young adult books and it sets itself apart entirely, with a world that is part of the past, part of the present and part of the future that is far more different to what we're aware of now. As Bethany Griffin takes us into this new world she has created, the book works like magic as you slowly begin to get sucked into this plague infestation and ultimately everything about this book from its dark world-building to the mysterious dark romances . . . there is honestly not enough to say in order to do this book the justice it clearly deserves!
Apart from the wonderful storyline, what captivated me the most were the characters themselves, even the ones with smaller purposes to the story. Araby, for one, was such a fantastic main heroine. She was smart, kind-hearted, and she was always courgeous in every single situation she faces - no matter the danger, she's already there and prepared to fight for the cause. To some readers from what I've read in past reviews, Araby may be a very depressing character for some since for the majority of the book she continues to push herself away from others, punishes herself when she has a chance at true happiness, and at times she is still struggling to deal with the world that is withering around her and even with her twin brother's death which is the main contribution to her own depression. But damn, once this girl changes and stops hiding behind her mask, she is a reformed young woman and everything about her puts a smile on my face because she's a beautiful person with a lot in her to still love. And loved her I did.
But when there's a heroine there are always love interests involved. In this case a love triangle. I don't do love triangles as much as I used to, but this one is clearly an exception. For Araby's character she has two very worthy and hella sexy love interests - Will, the mysterious tattooed proprietor of the club whom Araby is instantly attracted to and damn I don't blame her, and then there's Elliot, the wealthy aristocrat and the brother of Araby's best friend, April, whom she's attracted to as well, only she doesn't trust him as much as she does Will since Elliot has many secrets of his own. MY GOD THESE BOYS! Where most fangals can have only one fictional boy team that they remain faithful to, but seriously . . . when it comes to Will and Elliot alone, I just can't seem to choose between them! Firstly, you trust them and you love them. And then the next you don't trust them and you want to cry in frustration because these two boys are just so insufferable but in the best possible way of course! While I feel Elliot had more of a connection to Araby than Elliot did at first, both on an emotional and personal scale, but I guess I'll have to wait and see in order to find out just which team I'm on. Oh heck - I'll just say Team Elliot right now and I'll see what happens because Elliot was the boy I was so obsessed with. Seriously. LOVED HIM!
Overall, MASQUE OF THE READ DEATH is painted as a sinister and twisted story just like the original Poe tale. Beautifully written, page-turning, and every as bit as rich and complex as I expected it to be, it's no wonder why Griffin's haunting creation is a solid novel and it deserves every single high praise it's been getting because I'm lusting, craving and WANTING more from this series!