Series: Masque of the Red Death #1
Published by Harper Collins on April 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
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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 around them.
So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . 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 is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.
And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
“And I’m falling in love with you,” he whispers.
“But I would throw you in the water and watch crocodiles tear you to bits, if I thought that doing so would accomplish my goals. Do. Not. Trust. Anyone. Especially me.”
The premise of this book really drew me in. It sounded like Moulin Rouge mixed into a scary dystopian world complete with a couple of sexy romantic interests – who couldn’t be intrigued by that? After I first picked up this book I simply devoured it, it was so good if a little different to my original expectations. The story is based on an Edgar Allan Poe classic by the same title and while I haven’t read it to see how it lives up to the original, the story definitely has a very dark gothic vibe which rings true of what Poe I have read. Araby, the central character of this novel starts of numb and disconnect buried in guilt and grief and this story really is about her discovering herself and opening her eyes to what is really happening in the world around her.
The world itself is both gorgeous and terrifying. You have the beautiful masks, aristocratic ladies with carriages and luxury apartment towers on one hand. You also have the corpses on the street, corpse collector’s, scary bats and crocodiles plus the plague infected on the other. Mixing these together is captivating and gives you a completely encompassing city background. There is an undercurrent of fear throughout the entire book – fear of disease, angry mobs, rebels, the evil prince it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor in this world, there is little happiness to hold onto for anyone.
Araby is a wonderful main character. She experienced so much in her past and this is conveyed really well throughout the novel so you connect and empathise with her as the story progresses. She starts off so numb and dead inside, choosing to forget the horrors in the world with sleeping potions, illicit drugs and roaming the debauchery club even though she doesn’t actually partake in any real debauchery! Upon the disappearance of her best friend she meets the first of her 2 love interests, Will who works at the club and is just a downright lovely guy. She discovers Will is the sole provider of his 2 young siblings and will do absolutely anything to keep them safe.
Her other love interest Elliot is a very interesting character and you aren’t ever 100% sure if he really is a nice guy or if he is going to turn out to be a bad egg after all. It turns out both of these guys do some shitty things and are deeply flawed yet the writing and character development is so well done that you really understand their actions and can’t stop rooting for them anyway. Often in YA love triangles its really obvious which guy the girl is going to choose right from the get go but in this book your left with things not being clear cut. You simply don’t really know by the end if Araby would choose Will or if she would choose Elliot. Perhaps she’ll choose neither, I’m just not sure.
Araby’s family is also quite important to the story. What’s on the surface seems quite simple however through the story you are given titbits of information that when you piece things all together you can see that this family has gone through a lot of tragedy and there is actually a lot of love there even if it is covered by loss and grief of Araby’s twin brother.
While this book is slow paced and there is a lot of subtext, you never feel bored while reading it. The book is wrapped up nicely though there are so many reveals and shocks towards the end that I simply can’t wait to read the sequel which must be ages away argh! I can imagine that some people would not enjoy this, those that like a lot of speed and action would probably not like mulling over minute details and information that is interwoven into the story to provide the rich experience that is Masque of the Red Death. But if you’re looking for a story that really makes you think and one that doesn’t shy away from death and betrayal I strongly recommend picking up this story ASAP!
– Spooky dystopian with great romantic interests.
Masque of the Red Death