Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (April 24, 2012)Source: ATW ARC Tours
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.
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin is based on the short story by Edgar Allen Poe. There have been several reimaginings of stories lately, mostly focused on ancient Greek myths, but this reimagining is quite different. It is very true to the original story, with the same character names, description of the illness, etc. It's almost as if Griffin plopped her novel into Poe's short story, found a new protagonist and expended it to novel length. Yes, it is in Griffin's own style and yes, there are some differences, but it's the most true-to-original reimagining I've read. That said, it's also highly original because Griffin came up with a novel length story based off a 20 page short story.
As anyone who has read dystopians can tell you, living in a bleak world has varying and drastic impact on the people still alive. It brings out the best in some and the worst in others. At the beginning of the story, Araby is as bleak as the world around her. She doesn't much care for life, but can't bring herself to death either...at least, not intentionally. She certainly takes risks that may kill her and does so without batting an eye. The transition from her state of numbness to one that has energy and a will to live is very gradual. The circumstances in the story lead to small changes that grow naturally. This aspect of the book was very well handled.
Personally, I loved reading about the different characters and learning their secrets. Everybody has secrets and those secrets define key moments in the story. I adored Will pretty much from the very beginning. He was a wonderful counterpart to Araby, the very antithesis of her careless nature. Elliot was intriguing as well. I didn't know what to make of him at first and honestly, I still don't, though I've grown to like him much more. The secrets these two hold are key for the climax of the story.
Every other notable person in the story has a secret as well. As we discover these secrets, it makes the characters more human and more sympathetic. I think of Araby's parents in particular when I say this. They may not be the best parents in the world, but they live in the same debilitating world as Araby with the same struggles.
I'll warn you that Masque of the Red Death will have a sequel, so the ending is not 100 percent complete. I found it satisfying enough, though I'm eager to read more.
Final thoughts: Borrow or buy, just make sure you read it.