The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. The mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. And yet all this might have been endured, if not approved, by the mad revelers around. But the mummer had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in blood--and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror.
-The Masque of Red Death, Edger Allan Poe
Red Death has caused extensive destruction and ruin, population is eradicating and the country has long devastated. Red Death is deadly plague taking over the society, threatening to wipe out every single life from country. People have no choice but paying extremely high price for a mask that can protect them from this contamination. Araby is one of the privileged people who belongs to rich society and her parent has enough money to buy one mask for her. At one of her nights in the Debauchery Club, a place kept the sickness out where wealthy people of town can enjoy their evenings without mask and fear of plague, Araby met Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. But neither of them are what they appears to be, both have secrets and plans of their own. As she was more drawn to these boys, she found herself struggling with her feelings and thrust into a secret world full of danger and mayhem.
The Redness and Horror of Blood
As a big Poe fan, I wouldn’t dare to compare this book with original Masque of Red Death, but I must say it was a very brave attempt to remake the master piece. Author adapted the theme from Poe’s The Masque of Red Death, twisted it very artfully and mingled it with her own thoughts, thus creating an imaginative and gruesome story of death and desire.
Griffin’s Mask of Red Death set in post apocalyptic era where the city architecture, stream carriages, clothing style everything very much resembles to time period when the original classic took place, 19th century.
The Masque of Red Death follows many traditions of gothic fiction; a dark tale represents a falling society that controlled by mad Prince Prospero who was as brutal as the disease. He intended to secure his own luxury and safety, indifferent to the sufferings of the population. The whole country in misbalance; streets are disturbed with rebellion and inevitability of death.
Darkness, Decay and Desire
We are vulnerable with our lanterns shining brightly in darkness.
-The Masque of Red Death, Brittany Griffin
As a protagonist Araby was not that appealing character as I thought her to be, slightly disconnected and confused, I could not relate myself to her. She was less concern about the circumstance and consequences of dark situations around her. We saw her character developed towards the end but not much that could please me.
She was drawn to Will and depended on Elliot; both the boys were different from each other with own secrets to keep. Elliot was nephew of prince Prospero with mysterious personality and desperate to avenge his parent’s death, boldly resisting authority to any danger. On the other side Will was charming by his presence and caught my eyes in his first appearance. As story progressed, more secrets unfolds and I was haunted by the stabbing truth of both the boys especially the more I found out about Will, the more my jaw dropped leaving me temporarily incapable of breathing.
I enjoyed Araby as the voice of narration. The Masque of Red Death is slow moving, detailed and literary version of the original one. Araby’s story melds beautifully with Prospero’s using it as the background. The ending bears an ambiguous message to readers, made them wanting more though I really doubt there will be any sequel.
Brittany Griffin was successful in creating a wickedly dark and alluring tale with horror of death and decay harmonized with hope and love.