Masque of the Red Death
By: Bethany Griffin
A plague has wiped out most of the population, save a few who were lucky (rich) enough to procure masks that can only be used by one person. In the midst of all the death and destruction, a culture of debauchery has arisen to indulge in the pleasures that may be very soon in ending. Araby is the daughter of the inventor of the mask, and spends her nights taking away the pain of the loss of her brother at the Debauchery Club. When she meets two men that break through her apathy, she has to choose when and how she will make a stand.
Masque of the Red Death is based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe. It is a story that I haven't read, though I have read others of Poe's work. And this is perhaps why I just didn't feel engaged in the story.
The atmosphere in Masque of the Red Death is chilling. It seeps through the pages and is very rich. The world that is created is one of total chaos. Death and sickness run rampant through the streets, but the privileged spend their evenings living in pleasure and indulgence. The two world elements play beautifully off each other. The Prince, as he is known, is terrifying in his power and his demeanor. For the rich, the masks become a fashion item, some of them owning several different masks. The poor have to save everything they have for one, and often have to choose between children, since a mask can only be used by one wearer. All of these elements blend together beautifully.
However mesmerizing the world, I did not care for any of the characters. Araby uses drugs to medicate her sorrow, and that's really all I knew about her character. Elliot and Will were unsatisfying as well. Similarly, I found that characters disappeared and reappeared throughout the plot, seemingly at random, and I found myself losing interest at parts. There just wasn't enough in the characters to really hook me and want to see it through to the end. I even admit to skimming a few sections in the last 75 pages.
Do I feel like I really missed something with Masque of the Red Death? Yes. I've read reviews from many people who really loved the book. Perhaps if I didn't put so much stock in a likeable character I would have been able to really embrace it.
There is a fair amount of drug usage and sexual content in Masque of the Red Death, which would probably be suitable for teens 16 or older.