Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Masque of the Red Death

Araby Worth lives in a city destroyed by disease and controlled by the cruel Prince Prospero. The contagion first struck when she was a child and she was the first to wear a mask, made by her father, to keep the germs at bay. But her brother fell ill before her father had a chance to make a second mask and she has spent the rest of her life depriving herself of what her brother will never have. Instead, she spends her nights with her friend, April, at the Debauchery Club where she can lose herself.

The Masque of the Red Death is inspired by Poe rather than adapted from the original story and there are little nods to him throughout, such as the club called The Morgue. The Red Death of Poe’s story does occur but is perhaps not the ones that started it all. At first I thought the steampunk style setting was due to the plague halting progress, but as Araby remembers the beginning the timeline doesn’t account for this. If anything the plague has pushed them to invent more, steam carriages, defensive masks and research into disease. I think it’s more of a made-up world that can echo that of Poe’s era. The fashion trends subvert those of the 19th century, whereby dresses are tattered or worn short to prove that they are disease free. Because health is more important than modesty.

Araby’s time at the aptly named Debauchery Club is decadent and risky. Seeking release from her painful thoughts, she uses drugs (never implicitly mentioned but syringes and passing out give little room for doubt) and is found by Will who tests patrons of the club as they enter. She’s had a silent crush on him for a while but her pact with her dead brother holds her back. Will is love interest number one. Then there’s April’s brother Elliott, nephew to the evil prince who is most likely using her for his own agenda. Despite what would appear to be a love triangle, it’s not mushy or predictable and I found myself swaying between the two in who I wanted to “win”.

Unfortunately for me, there’s no real conclusion. Yes, it’s another young adult book that just stops and left me feeling unsatisfied. Perhaps I should just wait until trilogies and series are complete before reading them as I otherwise enjoyed it. The end can’t even be called a cliffhanger; it just sort of carries on at the same pace and then it’s the acknowledgements. If you can’t feel a story coming to a close, it’s not being done right.

The Masque of the Red Death is published in the UK by Indigo, an imprint of Orion and will be available in paperback and ebook editions from 2nd August 2012. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review. There will be a giveaway coming up shortly so stay tuned!

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  1. I've tried giving the whole YA book thing a go, and very few have appeal to me. The resources I use most now, are either from friend who have similar reading taste to me, or books that are highlighted on bookreportradio(dot)com. The great thing for me with Book Report, is that they play an excerpt from the audio book, and the snippets offered, often pique my interest enough to go and have a closer look-thus bringing me to the review and opinion sites! Thanks for the feedback and if you enjoy getting a feel for new and upcoming books, perhaps you may also enjoy the show. The schedule for the stations is on their site.

  2. Oh I just finished this a few days ago. I have to admit, I pretty much fell in love with it. It has its faults, but as a whole I got really into it.

    And my cover had a creepy-ass mask that gave me the heebie jeebies :/


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