Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: The Masque of the Red Death

Author: Bethany Griffin
Release Date: US: Already out | UK & AUS: 2nd August 2012
Publisher: US: HarperCollins | UK & AUS: Orion/Indigo
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Book Depository
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.

After hearing a serious amount of praise from Kathy at A Glass of Wine, I knew I desperately needed to get my hands on The Masque of the Red Death. I'm glad I listened to her, because when the amazing Hachette surprised me with a copy sporting a creepy (but fitting!) cover, I eagerly dove into this and discovered a haunting, yet fascinating tale that I could not put down.

Bethany Griffin's world building is fantastic. The air clogged thick with despair and suffering, this crumbled society is not a place one dreams of living in. But certainly one that you morbidly want to uncover every layer of. The only offering of hope comes in the form of a face mask, used to reduce the risk of contagion so you don't become another nameless corpse. Araby's world is in a bleak, dangerous and volatile state. And it's about to get worse. As if people hadn't suffered long enough living in fear of contracting the deadly virus that decimated their population, another is rearing it's scary tentacles, more awful than the last. Rebellions are forming and some who are seeking leadership may not be any better than the cruel Prince already in power. So when the mysterious nephew of aforementioned Prince seeks Araby's help in his plans to overthrow his Uncle, can they succeed before more sinister players catch hold of her? Or before they're just another count to the death tally?

I actually didn't feel 100% connected with Araby, which is usually a huge issue and detracts me from the story, but surprisingly it didn't this time. I absolutely understand her character, the pain of losing her twin brother at such a young age has had a profoundly damaging effect on her. She shuts herself off from emotion with the use of drugs and alcohol. The highlight of her days is the promise of visiting the Debauchery Club again and losing herself in a numbing oblivion. Her only passion is in her refusal to truly live - why should she when such a gift was stolen from her brother? It's a sad belief that she has carried with her since his death. But she slowly begins to find herself again, ignited with a purpose and aided by two equally fascinating boys. I think both Will and Elliot helped in coaxing Araby to shed her mask, figuratively and literally. Will, especially. Despite all this, I never really felt an intense emotional connection to her. She's a character whose motivations and heartache I can acknowledge, but I wasn't invested in her enough to share her pain. I would like to see her become stronger in the sequel and show some inner fire to truly make the reader jump up and cheer for her. I think she has potential to do that. A minor flaw though, for it didn't affect my overall enjoyment of the novel.

Yes, a love triangle has sketched itself within Masque's pages. No, it's not insufferable, nor is there really a clearly defined winner, which I liked. I think both boys have an equal chance of rising as victor to Araby's heart. Will and Elliot are very different in comparison, but each has their own tragic story. Elliot is more the... bad boy with surprisingly hidden heart. The one who's endured a sad and cruel childhood, and is a little hardened, a little twisted and a whole lot more mysterious because of it. I can't deny he was endearing (though if I were Araby, any guy who did that to me while in the middle of the ocean would be crawling off the boat with his hands between his legs), but it's Will who demanded my loyalty. With his tortured soul and beautifully soft heart heart. And did I mention he sports some sexy body art? I found his love and devotion to his two younger siblings really touching and his sweet personality is near impossible to resist. Each boy has his own faults and do things that are not always admirable, but both can offer Araby something unique and exciting.

I flew through Masque's easy and addictive pages, wanting to taste more and more of Bethany's haunting creation. Her beautiful writing is a compliment to the horrific world it paints. Admittedly, I wasn't blown away, but as you can clearly see, I definitely enjoyed this! The Masque of the Red Death is a solid debut, captivating in it's rich atmosphere and complex male leads, whose motives you are never truly sure of, which only fuels your need to turn those pages faster and faster.

4/5 Golden Apples

16 comments:

  1. I can tell you enjoyed this Brodie, enough to want to read the next book I'm sure! It's good to hear that the love triangle wasn't too annoying and didn't take over the story, I can handle reading about that!

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  2. AHH! I want to read this one so much, I honestly have no idea why I haven't picked up a copy. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this one. (:

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  3. Ahhh! I am so glad you loved this too! I must say though that your review puts mine to shame! So wonderfully written (all of your reviews are though). Seriously, your reviews are amazing.

    Sigh....Will! <3. It's totally the tattoos. He also just seems lovely, but tortured and caught in the devastation that is going on. The whole Elliot thing on the boat...yup I agree with what you said.

    I am dying for the sequel and am glad that my constant raving didn't let you down!

    FANTASTIC REVIEW!!! <3

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  4. HI BRODIE!
    Awesome review as always! As soon as I saw the cover i wanted to read it but after reading your review, i want to read it more! hehe!

    Yes, i do judge books based on their covers! :(

    Can't wait for your Partials review!

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  5. I ADORED this book, mostly because it was inspired by one of my favourite tales written by Edgar Allan Poe whom you know I'm obsessed with. Anyway fantastic review! Between the boys in this book . . . it's so hard to side with one of them. Both are awesome. :)

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  6. Amazing review, Brodie! I agree with you about the love triangle... It's usually pretty obvious in these situations who is the guy and will steal the girl's heart in the end, but you can't call it between Will and Elliot. It was a refreshing change I guess. I'm glad you liked this! :0

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    1. That thing at the end was supposed to be a smiley face, by the way. :P Though I guess I smile like that in real life too... ;)

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  7. I felt the same way about Araby! I wasn't really able to connect with her, but I understood her and still managed to enjoy the book. Will won my heart as well and LOL, I love the part about the boat. I'm so with you on that one! Definitely not cool. ;p One thing is for sure: I SO can't wait for the sequel. o: I have a feeling it'll be even better!

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  8. "With his tortured soul and beautifully soft heart. And did I mention he sports some sexy body art? " - I think I'm sold :))) Loved your review, Brodie! Need to read this book ASAP now :)

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  9. EEEK! THE BOYS SOUND SEXY. I wants to see this body art and meet the bad boy too. *faints* Shame you didn't really connect with Araby but it sounds like the story's interesting anyway. I'm ready for some tough times on the heart :P Great review! Can't wait to read this :) Glad you enjoyed it so I can go into it without apprehension haha. I really wasn't sure what to think about the book when it came!

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  10. I <3 WILL! Will is like another Alex to me -- a name where all the book boys with it automatically make it onto my book boyfriends list LOL! x) (And it had nothing to do with his awesome tattoos, although I'm pretty sure you already know that I looooooove body art on guys!)

    But me and Araby had the EXACT same relationship! I could sympathize with her and I could ache for her an I could want to majorly HUG her, but I couldn't connect with her for the life of me because of some of the things she did and the way her mind worked. But at least it didn't affect your enjoyment of reading! I know a lot of people were really bugged by her :)

    Amazing and helpful and honest and Brodie-TASTIC review, Brodie!! I can't wait to see what happens with Will and Elliot and Araby in book two! :D <3

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  11. Awesome review, Brodie! I am so intrigued by this book! I'm not really into historicals, but it sounds fascinating! I finished a similar-ish book the other day where a virus causes trouble for the world. I didn't connect with the characters there, but it was a really good book, so I don't think the fact that you didn't connect with Araby is a deal breaker necessarily. I really want to give this book a go! Thanks, Brodie!

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  12. I have been looking forward to this book for quite some time! It sounds awesome and I am glad you really enjoyed it. Awesome review, thanks :)

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  13. It's a shame you didn't connect 100% to the MC, but I'm glad it wasn't a huge issue! really like the sound of this one - and I like not being able to guess the motives of certain characters :P. Great review, thanks! :)

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  14. Great review :)

    I'm still a bit on the fence with this one, even if you could see past the fact that you couldn't quite connect with the MC that kind of scares me. I'm glad you ended up liking it as much as you did but I'm not conviced that this is the book to buy the next time for me :)

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  15. Ooooohhh Im SO glad you liked this Brodie! While I didn't like it enough to finish it, I certainly agree that the world building was fantastic! It's a pity that both of us didn't 100% connect with Araby, although I'm glad it wasn't a huge issue for you! Unfortunately, it affected my enjoyment of the book, which eventually led to me abandoning it :( Hmm... love triangle, eh? I'm glad it wasn't one of those cliched/ insufferable ones :) But I have a feeling she'll end up with Will! Heheeee let's see if my prediction is correct :DDDD Awesomeeee review Brodieeeee! <3

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