3.5 stars . Have you ever been reading a relatively enjoyable book, and the suddenly stop to question what the whole point of the story is? This is what happened to me as I was reading Masque of the Red Death.
Bethany Griffin has created a world full of horror, disease, and betrayal. Poor citizens are falling by the dozen because they are affected by a deadly plague, while the rich wear fancy masques in order to stop it. Science has been blamed for the creation of the plague, which has caused Princce Prospero to keep scientists captive in his castle to 'keep them out of danger'.
But not Araby's father. Somehow, her father has managed to stay out of the castle, while continuing to practice science in secret. But Araby's family has been torn apart by the death of her twin brother, Finn. She cannot forgive her mother for ostensibly leaving them to live underground on their own. She cannot bear he looks her father gives her, and his apparent indifference. So, like many teens do, Araby drowns her sorrows in parties, alcohol, and drugs at the Debauchery Club.
Ok, great. So we have a plague killing citizens throughout the novel, a tragic family and setting, and two extremely cute and flawed love interests. This was enough to keep me interested to read until the end. But what this story was really lacking was a plot. This is not to say that the plot was entirely non-existent, just that it took the back seat to Araby's struggles with a (ridiculous) promise she made to her brother and the tug-of-war between love interests Will and Elliot. Unlike some other reviewers, Araby's promise not to experience anything her brother couldn't didn't upset me, or take over the entire story. I can see how a devastated sister would make that kind of rash decision as she mourns her brother. It just didn't really do anything for the plot, except make Will look like an amazing guy. While Will and Elliot are both intriguing and flawed love interests, I thought too much of the book was focused on their relationships with Araby, so we miss out on some of the political plays that are happening.
However, I really enjoyed the writing style of this book. I felt like it suited Araby well and also managed to convey the tragic environment she has found herself living in. The last quarter of the book was really great in terms of plot movement. Yes, there were several twists, most of which were easy to guess at, but they worked really well with the story and made Araby a more well-rounded character. I will probably read on to discover what will become of the carnage of the city, and to see how these different political moves will play out.