Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Publisher: HarperCollins/Greenwillow Books
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Pages: 320 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC provided by Amazon Vine.
Purchase: Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Book Depository

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.


Thanks to the magic of Goodreads, I can say Masque of the Red Death has been on my radar since August 30, 2011 and as more in-depth descriptions were added, it became one of my most anticipated reads of 2012. Seven months of anticipation, especially after seeing it get consistently positive reviews, make my disappointment in the novel that much more bitter.

Masque of the Red Death had all the ingredients for a great novel. A gloomy mood set by the description and Araby's inner thoughts set the stage for a fabulous post-apocalyptic Gothic novel. Poe's classic short story is creatively twisted into something that is both an original work and a loving homage to Poe's genius. Some scenes of the novel are incredibly powerful--like the one with Will, Araby, and the moonlight flower. I had to go back and reread it a few times because I loved it so much.

What is there not to like, then? The story sounds fantastic in theory, but it is more often lacking in practice.

Araby and Elliott are well-developed characters in all the technical aspects. Elliott has a motivation and is incredibly sympathetic; Araby doesn't have much of a motivation herself, but her despair and loneliness drew me to her and could once again earn a lot of fans out of sympathy for her. My problem is that despite their adequate construction, I couldn't connect with them. They didn't feel alive, so to speak. Their connections with other characters left a lot to be desired too. Why was Araby drawn to Will and Elliott the way she was? The hope they offered? That seems the most likely explanation, but nothing about the characters and their relationships clicked the way they should have.

Two-thirds of the way through the novel, very little had happened and there was almost no forward momentum. I procrastinated on a major paper to read this book and I wanted to at least pretend it was a better use of my time, but I couldn't keep up the illusion when I kept putting it down and watching documentaries about Columbine and OJ Simpson's trial on television.The plot did kick in shortly after--oh wow, did it kick in; I couldn't put it down for those last hundred pages--but saving any sign of plot or action for the last one-hundred pages of the book could lose a lot of readers.

But now I'm done and my Count of Monte Cristo paper is calling my name, motioning me to come closer with a knife in one white, crinkling hand and pen and paper in the other. I think it's best I go see it before I get stabbed--or worse, before one of my books gets stabbed.

As a bonus for readers who want a small insight into how the author chose the names for her characters, look no further than right here. If this is what happens when I express my dislike of a name, I may need to do it more often. Masque left me unimpressed and disappointed, but other readers will doubtlessly enjoy it.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

1 comment:

  1. I think I would give it less than a 3 but it's a release to see that I was not the only one getting extremely bored most of the way.


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