Saturday, October 27, 2012

Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Wow. Just finished reading it, I had to stay up to finish it as it was a true page turner.

The heroine is Araby Worth (on a sidenote, I also read books with male narrators, I just seem to be on a streak of female narrators lately) who lives in a world overrun by a plague. I mistook this for the black plague at first, but it seems to be a rather steampunk unspecified time setting. I say steampunk as there are carriages that run on coal, but there are no horses (as the plague wiped them out). They also have ships which are run on steam, but I'm unsure as to what era the story is supposed to exist in. Or it might not be defined by era. It doesn't matter, because the story rocks.

So Araby Worth is the daughter of the scientist who created the masks for people to wear. The masks filter out the contagion (plague) of the infection and protect the wearer. The plague seems to infect the people by sores spreading across their skins, rashes, etc, before they ooze pus. There is a Prince Prospero who seems to rule the part of the world we're introduced to in this story (a city and his castle) who has no regard for the well being of his people. He'll kill people for sport, keep people prisoner who interests him, and poisons people for whatever reason. Not a good guy.

Araby is trapped in the middle of a conflict between five men; her father who wants nothing to do with the prince, Will who works at the Debauchery Club (a club for the uncontaminated where they go to party and participate in unsavory things, such as sex and drugs (no sex scenes in this novel, drug scenes though)), Elliott who is the nephew to the prince (but he hates the prince for murdering his father), the horrible Prince Prospero, and the Reverend Malcontent (who seems hell bent on killing everyone, no spoilers (his reasoning is revealed MUCH MUCH later in the book).

Araby, being the daughter of the scientist who invented the masks, is sought after by Elliott because she can hopefully get the blueprints for the masks so he can mass produce them for everyone. She is sought after by Will because he seems to have fallen in love with her (and she potentially with him) through her visits to the Debauchery Club (where he is a kind of doorman for). Her father wants to keep her safe from the prince, the world, and everything that might harm her because he loves her (she's his daughter, come on). The Prince because he wants to ensnare both her father and mother via the love they have for their daughter. Reverend Malcontent I won't say why because of SPOILERS.

Really, I was ensnared in this book because it was fascinating to see a depiction of society that kind of crumbled from the plague. It was utterly horrifying at some points, but Araby leads the readers bravely through. I feel like I've said much of the plot without saying much about the book. The book is also tightly woven with secrets and as more secrets are discovered, more questions can be asked. But I don't find it frustrating that I have more questions as I feel that enough answers have been revealed to give me a partial picture as to what's happening. I think I have the surface of the world/problem/plot figured out, but it's going to take another book to figure out the underbelly.

With the way the book leaves off in the end, I can only assume that there is a sequel, or a sequel in the works. I found this book to be horrifying, thoughtful, and readable (because it's kind of gross sometimes, I mean plague with pus, YUCK). I'll be looking for to read the second book, but probably on an empty stomach.

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