Araby has lived the last couple of years of her life in a drug induced stupor, spending her evenings with her friend, April, at the**spoiler alert**
Araby has lived the last couple of years of her life in a drug induced stupor, spending her evenings with her friend, April, at the Debauchery Club, a private club where you go to forget the outside world. And what's wrong with the outside world? First off is the plague called the Weeping Sickness, a silent killer that seems to eat away at a body until death. Secondly, Araby is trying to forget the death of her twin brother, Finn, whose death she feels responsible for due to an innocent mistake, and as a result, she has set herself with a promise to him, that she won't enjoy anything in life that he won't now be able to enjoy, which includes falling in love.
Araby's father invented a mask that can keep the wearer safe from the Weeping Sickness, but instead of making the mask available to all, Prince Prospero has turned the manufacture of the masks into a profitable venture, thereby preventing the lower classes from being able to afford masks and being at the mercy of the plague. Because of his invention, however, Araby's father and his family has been able to live in relative opulence, something else Araby carries guilt over. Quite frankly, felt there was a little too much guilt-ridden Araby going on in this book. Don't get me wrong, she's a fine MC, but I'll admit, I found April a sometimes more compelling character than Araby - I'd really like to see a story from April's POV sometime.
Araby eventually catches the eye of both Will, a bouncer at the Debauchery Club, and Elliott, April's older brother, each of whom are interested in Araby for far different reasons. Will sees her as a lost soul, someone that he would like to see rise above her self-imposed vow and begin to enjoy life again. Elliott wants to use her for far more seemly nefarious reasons, and while she doesn't entirely trust Elliott, she decides to help him. Enter the love triangle and most of the emotional impetus that is used on Araby for the majority of the second half of the book.
I've read in several places that Bethany Griffin's Masque of the Red Death is a retelling of Poe's classic tale of the same name, but I can't help but keep thinking of it as a prequel of sorts to Poe's story. Maybe it's just me, but Griffin's story seemed to be leading up to the events of Poe's, putting all the key elements of her story in place to get the key characters in Poe's story into their necessary places for his story. However you want to interpret Griffin's Masque, I recommend reading it. Griffin has created a very unique world, that somehow feels eerily familiar at the same time. The book is not really uplifting; the Weeping Sickness is very real in this world, and people die, frequently, from it. The book carries, quite obviously, a lot of the tropes of current YA books, but still manages to tell a story that is unique unto itself. I just wish those tropes weren't always so obvious....more
Farworld: Water Keep is the first in a new YA fantasy series by J. Scott Savage. The story revolves around Marcus Kanenas, an orphan who dreams of a fFarworld: Water Keep is the first in a new YA fantasy series by J. Scott Savage. The story revolves around Marcus Kanenas, an orphan who dreams of a far-off world where his physical handicaps won't hinder him and magic is all around; a world he calls Farworld. In Farworld, animals and tree talk, fish can swim in the air, and everyone has magic, and Marcus is normal. Actually Farworld is a very real place, and there is a reason that he can dream of it so vividly. It is also the story of Kyja, who lives in Farworld, but considers herself handicapped there, for in a world where everyone has magic, she has none. Both kids think themselves outcasts due to their individual handicaps, but when circumstances force Kyja to bring Marcus to Farworld, both discover that their handicaps are really only in their minds, and that by working together, they may be able to save both Earth and Farworld.
It was a little slow going at first with Water Keep, but after I got into the flow of the story, it was hard to put the book down. J. Scott Savage has clearly fully imagined what Farworld is and what it's all about. The key to magic in Farworld centers around the Elementals, mythic creatures who control the 4 elements of water, air, land and fire. There are branches of white and black magic that can be accessed, but it is important here to keep a balance, otherwise you could fall completely into black magic and be corrupted forever.
The characters are fleshed out and believable; Marcus and Kyja, the skyte Riph Raph (imagine a small dragon), Master Therapass, the kindly fatherly wizard, all the myriad of magical creatures that inhabit Farworld, even the evil Thrathkin S'Bae; each of these characters are fully realized and each comes with his or her own back story. Savage does a great job including each person's history into the book without making it feel weighed down by excessive storytelling.
As a complete aside from the storytelling, I just have to mention how much I love the cover as well; it is almost worth the price of admission alone! I hope that they keep this same look uniform through the rest of the series.
Overall, a really fun book that has some great lessons to be learned for younger readers, but enough adventure and surprises to make it enjoyable for older readers as well. I'm looking forward to the future releases in the Farworld series....more