Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
Strangemore Rating: 4.5 Stars
Masque of the Red Death is oh so deliciously dark and twisty!
I adore dark, fantastical and overly dramatic stories. Who's with me? Let's go kick some flying monkeys, everyone! Kidding, kidding. Please guys, treat your flying monkeys with respect. Oz just wouldn't be as much fun without them.
Araby Worth lives in a chilling death-ridden world, where every day is a struggle to keep from contracting a deadly plague. Dead bodies litter the streets and air-filtering masks are necessary to keep the plague at bay. A villanous Prince rules the area but lives outside the threats that exist within the more poulated areas. Araby spends most of her time out in a club named Debauchery and encounters two sexy and mysterious boys. Yet even more mysterious is what's going on in the city. Rumors of an uprising threaten the safety of those within the city and then the attacks begin. Annnnnnd, love triangles and villainy ensue. Whoohoo! Damn, this is a difficult book to summarize.
I really appreciate when the publishers put so much love into even the advance copy of the book. The cover looks beautiful in the photo but in real life it is outstandfendupulosus! Don't even ask me what that means but, I kid you not, it's exactly the word I think of when I look at this cover. Because a "real" word just wouldn't do it justice.
Lately, a lot of books with gorgeous covers haven't been quite as beauteous on the inside. So I was expecting to not like this one. When I would look at it on my shelf, I could picture myself reading it in the future and clearly see the disappointed look on future me's face when it turned out to be less-than-outstandfendupulosus. (Also, I think that if Richard Simmons was a dinosaur, outstandfendupulosus would totally be his scientific name.)
This book reads like a crazy twisted dark cartoon version of dystopian gothic fiction. The characters are over-the-top and full of dramatic intrigue.
I fell for every one of the characters. They all have a delightful mix of good and evil. Except for the villians who are so fantastically evil, almost cartoonishly evil, that it makes you want to yell "Prepare for trouble! Make it double!" As for the other characters, glorious shades of gray and questionable actions fill the pages of this book. Moral ambiguity, yay!!
I am enamored with Araby. I don't love that she seems committed to remaining chaste at the start, but I do love her reason. It's not based on religion or peer pressure but a real complex emotional stance, and that is all I'll say for now.
The love triangle is my absolute favorite of recent books. Like Araby, I had a hard time choosing where my loyalties are and jumped back and forth between the two. Neither guy is exactly the hero type, not the kind you'd take home to your mom, but that's what I loved about them. She truly cares for both of the boys and doesn't lead either of them on just for the heck of it.
Who loves bad boys? Lyndsey loves bad boys! I do, I do, I do-OO. If you like bad boys, you'll love the two love interests in this book. If you like love triangles, you'll love to hate making a decision between these two guys.
The Pacing and World-Building
This isn't heavy on the steampunk or the dystopia, but there are lights elements of both weaved throughout the world. If anything, I'd consider this "gothic" instead of "steampunk." It's definitely a colorful and dramatic tale.
In the beginning, I was luh-huuuuurving the pace. I was thinking that there was no way way this wouldn't end up being a favorite. Then in the middle it began to lull a bit. Still a constant forward motion, just a little more slow going than in the beginning. I started to have some doubts, but it kicked into high gear toward the end. What a thrill ride!
I've been itching to reread this ever since I finished and that doesn't happen to me often! Don't they have a lotion for this? It's driving me crazy! MUST. REREAD.
I haven't been this excited about a first book in a series since Divergent. The world-building is extravagant and consuming. The pacing is even and exciting. It's such a compulsive read. I felt compelled to keep reading and compelled to reread. I still do.
I've been trying to write this review for a while. Trying to make sure I properly express my excitement over this book. I haven't been able to get it out of my mind since I finished and have had a hard time with other books because I want them to be as much fun as this one!
Masque of the Red Death is a stunningly dark novel by Bethany Griffin. It's a whimsical mix of gothic dystopia, brought together with gorgeous prose and intriguing characters.
In short, I LOVED it. Wheeeeeee! Fun fun fun.