Where Good HEALTH is only a MASK Away….
Everything is in ruins. A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them. So what does Araby Worth have to live for? Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all. But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does. And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
“I thought that once that I had never met anyone so suicidal. But there’s more to you than that. It’s why I took you home.”
The Masque of the Red Death begins in a dark, gritty, oppressed, Dystopian society world. We get a first hand glance at this disturbing and horrifying world living in fear of catching the deadly epidemic disease Contagion from the POV of Arabay Worth. Citizens are left no choice but to always wear masks for protection from the Contagion airborne germs. These masks can be simple design or even an elaborate fancy porcelain creation for social events. If you’re one of the wealthy then not only do you have one mask but you can be as fortunate as Arabay to own five personalized protective masks, while sadly if you have the misfortune of being poor you have no masks are more likely succumb to the disease and die a lonely death while being shunned from society, and treated like a lepper.
“I told you I hang around in the Debauchery District because I like girls with tattered dresses and unnaturally colored hair.”
One of my favorite parts in the book were the visits to the Debauchery Club. Yes, that name is fascinating and it lives upto it’s name yet, it makes me wish this book were an Adult book instead of a Young Adult book so we could visit this club in all it’s glory. The Debauchery club was originally a male only private club for the wealthy and most privileged of society, however the Contagion has demised the club member population paving the way for female members.
I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and smile. I am not the person I was this morning. I am beautiful, fake, shallow, incognito.
Women can now be invited as members as long as they are adults, and so Arabay and her best friend April take their duty of members of the Debauchery Club in training seriously and entertain themselves inside the club frequently. Though we don’t witness the chaste lifestyle inside the club we get the vibe that it’s there. The Debauchery club employs Arabay’s crush Will, while lucky patrons revel in the debauchery such as Elliott, Arabay, and April.
“You look fine” Elliott says. “You always do. It’s pretty amazing, the first time I saw you, you were passed out on the rug in the green room on the first floor of the debauchery club. I thought you were dead. I guess that’s the first thing I suspect when someone is lying on the floor. You were beautiful and I was glad when your eyelashes fluttered and I could see that you were alive.
Probably one of the main reasons I enjoyed Arabay’s POV so greatly was because I can’t resist a tortured heroine that’s trying so hard to keep her suffering and self depravation hidden while masquerading with beauty, riches, vanity, yet she’s selfless and wants to prevent others from suffering the same tragedy as she. She blames herself for the tragic death of her twin brother, and with that blame she deprives herself, desperately avoiding luxuries her brother will never know since his untimely death, living a chaste and artificial lifestyle. Once a mask is sized for an individual it can only protect the one that first occupied the mask on their face. Therefore stealing a mask from the privileged would be worthless because it only recognizes the previous owners DNA.
“Mother complains that there is no butter for the bread. I take a large bite not caring that it’s dry. I eat to keep myself alive, because if I die here in this apartment she will be the one who finds my body. No matter how much we dissapoint each other I won’t do that to her.”
Arabay Worth is a beautiful privileged girl with an equally beautiful and privileged best friend April. Their friendship is very shallow, yet strong and endearing at the same time. April was Arabay’s saving grace, having found her. April and her brother Elliott may appear to be beautiful, vain, rich and only have regards for herself, but appearances can often be deceiving. The Debauchery club employs Arabay’s crush Will, a less fortunate man raising his two siblings and appears to have a heart of gold. While reading The Masque of The Red Death, I often felt I knew a character and predicted the very behavior from them only to find myself guessing again. I absolutely love that in a story, each character had hidden secrets, desires and agendas that unravel as the story progresses, and by the end you might have changed your mind.
“I asked April to bring you here so I could see just how fearless you are.” I nearly fall off the wall. Did April tell him that? He is wrong. I have so much fear. And since last night I have become more interested in the future. I am not the person Elliott thinks I am.”
Elliott has asked for Arabay’s help to revolt against the Prince his uncle. The Prince rules in a strict dictatorship and he willing suppresses the poor, and unprivileged. Therefore Elliot and Arabay are willing to make sacrifices to help the poor, and there first stop is getting masks for all citizens regardless of their social status. Here is where Arabay is left with no choice but to steal the mask creation notes from her father, who created these lifesaving masques putting everyone she loves in danger for the sake of rescuing poor citizens from death by Masque of the Red Death. She practically runs in the direction of danger to protect those she loves as well as those without someone to love them and desire them a good clean bill of health.
“I told you not to trust me.” his voice is harsh, and I’m sure for just a moment that he is going to drop me. “But you started to didn’t you. Last night. This morning I could see it in your eyes.” he leans his forehead against my hair.
I really enjoyed this dark and gritty world created by Bethany Gibson, yet I want far away from it as I can get, I’m eager to read the next book. I’m hoping to get many answers in the next book, since we’re left with so many unanswered questions. The ending was not a cliffhanger yet, it left me angry at some characters characters, amorous over others. Read the Masque of the Red Death if you’re interested in reading a slower paced book about a dark, gritty, savagely oppressed society where survival is held in higher esteem by most and selflessness is almost extinct.
“And I’m falling in love with you, he whispers. “But I would throw you into the water and watch crocodiles tear you to bits, if I thought doing so would accomplish my goals. Do. Not. Trust. Anyone. Especially me.”
ARC provided by Edelweiss for Harper Collins
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