Bethany Griffin continues the journey of Araby Worth in Dance of the Red Death—the sequel to her teen novel Masque of the Red Death. In Dance of the Red Death, Araby’s world is in shambles—betrayal, death, disease, and evil forces surround her. She has no one to trust. But she finds herself and discovers that she will fight for the people she loves, and for her city. Her revenge will take place at the menacing masked ball, though it could destroy her and everyone she loves…or it could turn her into a hero. With a nod to Edgar Allan Poe, Bethany Griffin concludes her tragic and mysterious Red Death series with a heroine that young adult readers will never forget.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Greenwillow Books
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Two and a half stars: A book with a grandiose buildup and a weak payout.
Araby secures her mask, terrified what the new day brings. There is now something worse ravaging the decimated city: The Red Plague. It brings almost instant death. Piles and piles of bodies are scattered all over the city, rotting and contaminating. Meanwhile, the maniacal Prince Prospero sits in his gluttonous castle, planning his decadent ball. While the Reverend Malcontent is unleashing groups of loyal followers infected with the Red Plague into the city. Sending them amongst the remaining citizens to infect and kill with their touch. On top of all that, April is beginning to show signs of the plague. All hope seems to be lost. Can Araby, Elliot and Will somehow stop the plague and rid the city of the two despots?
What I Liked:
- Once again Ms. Griffin does a tremendous job with her world building. She brings us a bleak and ruined city infected with different strains of virulent plagues. The remaining population forced to always wear masks to protect them from the contagions. The city is ripe with decay and reeks of death and despair. Surrounding the city is a large swamp loaded with snapping crocodiles hungry for dead bodies. Then on the outskirts of town, lives the depraved Prospero in his palace of gluttony and death. He is a wicked man who feeds on the suffering of others and delights in debauchery and opulence. I throughly enjoyed Ms. Griffiths apocalyptic society. It is horrible, yet fascinating.
- This time around, Araby takes some brave steps and finally shows some growth. In the first book: Masque of the Red Death, she is depressed, lost and content to spend her nights floating in oblivion at the Debauchery Club. With the new wave of plague, the Debauchery Club is no more. She is forced to clean up her act, stop the drugs and make some drastic changes all in order to save her city, the dying April and hopefully herself. She finally stands up and fights and makes some daring decisions, and ends up being rather heroic. However, I was amused to see that even in the grimmest of circumstances, she hasn’t let go of her vanity, and there were numerous times where she was primping in front of the mirror or worrying about her dress. She is certainly a conundrum. Not so easy to like, but she grew on me.
- After reading the first book, I went back and red Edgar Allen Poe’s short story: Masque of the Red Death, which regales the tale of the Prince Prospero and his lavish ball. In the final scenes of the book, Ms. Griffiths brings to life Poe’s frightening vision and she certainly does Poe justice with her take. I would highly recommend you take a few minutes and read Poe’s short story before delving into this book, it will greatly enhance your experience.
And The Not So Much:
- The love triangle rears its hideous head once again in this installment, but this time it was even worse. In the first book, Araby seems firmly set on the handsome, tattooed Will, but this time around she harbors great animosity toward Will for his actions at the end of the first book. So she wavers toward Elliot. Back and forth, goes the indecision and hesitancy until she finally makes her choice at the end. Eliot is pushy, forceful and untrustworthy. while Will does nothing. I didn’t like Will very much in this sequel, in fact, I really didn’t like either of the love interests. I truly found the whole romance to be annoying.
- For whatever reason, the final portion of the book feels rather hurried. There is this big focus throughout the book on saving April from the plague, it is Araby’s main purpose to make sure her friend survives. All this buildup culminates rather fast and, I thought the way everything panned out was not in balance with all the buildup. Furthermore, the big finale with Prince Prospero is very anti climatic as well. Araby finds herself at the Prince’s ball, forced to play a deadly game with the Prince. She goes from each of the seven rooms searching for the Prince’s macabre piece of the game. Then when she gets to the final room, I was expecting this big showdown with the Prince where she confronts him with her findings, and he makes her choose between Will or her mother, but guess what? Nothing happens, there is a big ruckus and the whole deadly game is forgotten and left incomplete. I never found out the how and why for the game or even how the Prince managed to set it all up. What was the whole purpose of this game anyway? Once again, there is a tremendous buildup toward murdering the Prince and when the big moment comes, it is just a fizzle. I was expecting so much more!
- There were a lot of loose ends left over. For instance, the fate of Araby’s father and Reverend Malcontent is left undecided. In fact, the whole storyline with Reverend Malcontent is pretty much left undone. I didn’t understand why these story lines weren’t done up. This was supposedly the end of the series, but there were far too many unanswered questions for my taste.
The Dance of the Red Death was an unsatisfactory closing to the series. There is a great deal of tension and buildup toward the final events, only to have them speedily glossed over. The fizzle after all the drama was disappointing. There is a love triangle which gets annoying, and many unanswered questions left lingering. The one thing this series does have going for it is interesting writing and great world building. I definitely enjoyed the refashioning of Poe’s short story, unfortunately the rest of the book left a lot to be desired.
“Not yet,” Elliot says. “But she will. Araby’s used to loving people who’ve done terrible things.”
“It’s difficult to be hated after being loved.”
“We hold hands even while pursuing death. My hand fits so perfectly in his.”
I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.