Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

A terrible plague has swept the city, poisoning the air.  The poor die by the thousands, while the wealthy have been driven inside by fear of their own mortality.  The city has crumbled, science demonized and blamed for the plague.  The only protection from death are the masks.  The secret of how they work and their production completely controlled by the cruel prince of the city, life has become a privilege only the wealthy can afford.

Araby Worth, daughter of the masks' inventor, does not really care if she lives or dies.  Ever since the death of her twin brother Finn, the only thing that can numb her terrible guilt are her evenings at the prince's club with her best and only friend, and the prince's niece, April.  Hours spent on glittery make-up and lacy gowns, Araby can forget she exists in the maze of rooms filled with strangers and strange drinks.  It is the only place in the city where people are safe without their masks.  Membership is exclusive, and club members tested for infection before they can pass through the doors.

The only glitch in the beautiful oblivion of her hours at the club is Will, the devastatingly beautiful tattooed boy who checks Araby for infection each time she enters.  Something about him makes her feel alive again, and she is terrified to allow herself to feel anything Finn will never feel.

But when Araby is approached by April's brother, the arrogant, elegant Elliott, and asked to help him fuel a revolution, she finds herself agreeing to help.  The need to depose the prince is clear, especially after April vanishes.  Araby has access to her father's lab - which means access to the the secret of the masks and a possible cure for the plague, a cure the prince wants kept secret.  In order to keep their treachery a secret, however, they must disguise their sudden interest in one another as a romance - a romance that Elliott seems to want to become more than a cover.  But when a night gone wrong at the club ends with Will taking Araby into his home, and into his private world, Araby does not know how long she can keep up her deception with Elliott - or the walls around her heart.

Eerie and dark, this is steampunk Poe with an extra twist of death.  Based on Poe's short horror story 'Masque of the Red Death,' author Bethany Griffin has created a deeply atmospheric twisting tale of love and deception.  Death lurks within the walls, beneath the streets, and fills the air of Araby's terrifying gothic world.  Light a candle or six and curl up with this spooky Victorian romance, and just try to leave the house without reaching for your mask!

(who just finished the second Mara Dyer book, and speaking of gothic horror - yowza!)

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