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.
Well. There was no question that I wanted to read this book, as I’m a big fan of Poe and I’ll read pretty much any re-telling, re-imagining, re-whatever of a Poe story. I wasn’t disappointed by this one. It kept fairly true to the source material but without being too close or rip off-y. It definitely had that gothic horror vibe, but with a steampunk twist. It seems like I’m reading a lot of steampunk these days. It must really be growing on me as a genre.
Initially when I began reading, I was repulsed by the opulent lifestyles of Araby and her friends. All around them there is sickness, starvation, and crime. The poor are denied the masks they need to survive and have to carve out hard livings doing menial jobs, many in support of the upper class as they flit their way through their fancypants lives. The further I got into the book, however, the less this bothered me. Not because it wasn’t complete bullshit for these people to party while all around them people died, but because no life was truly good, even among the wealthy, and Araby’s family lived with fears of their own.
Araby herself was a bit of a wash for me. While on one hand I admired her willingness to take risks to change the status quo, the thing was that I almost always questioned her motives. She is a bit of a backstabber, so yuck. And I didn’t get her wishy-washyness when it came to Will & Elliott. The choice wasn’t clear there? Elliott was a douche. Will has tattoos. I really don’t think much more needs to be said. It kind of surprises me that there is even a debate about this among readers because there’s really only one right answer, and that answer is Team Will.
I felt like while there was definitely a huge plague component to the book, the actual Red Death itself seemed like a bit of an afterthought. I assume it’ll play a much bigger role in the rest of the series, though, since it really came into play at the end. The end, by the way, is a tremendously huge cliffhanger. Sooo…eh on that. I don’t mind them, but they make me want the next book when it’ll be a long time before I can have the next book.