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Dance of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 11, 2013
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In the sequel to Griffin’s riff on Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” Araby Worth continues her fight against both the contagion and the Red Death. Confused and grief stricken, she attempts to come to grips with the knowledge that her father may have introduced the Red Death, that her best friend is dying, and that she is unable to reconcile her feelings for the two men she thinks she loves. Again, the contrasting opulence and poverty, love and betrayal, violence and gentleness are difficult for both Araby and the reader to resolve, and readers would do well to start with the first book (Masque of the Red Death, 2012). Araby’s gradual evolution into the city’s heroine, however, is a satisfying conclusion to a disturbing, intriguing saga. Grades 9-12. --Frances Bradburn
“Griffin has successfully turned the short story into the type of YA saga that flies off the shelves. It is timely, well written, and quick paced. . . . In addition to being a fantastic read, this two-part saga would serve as a great companion to classroom units on Poe.” (School Library Journal)
Praise for Masque of the Red Death: “Fantastic, from the eye-catching cover to the growth of a heroine who might save the world. Tailor-made for popular consumption.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Praise for Masque of the Red Death: “Griffin delivers a seductively dark, decadently disturbing look at a society crumbling from within and without, infused with a romantic, steampunk air and Poe’s own morbid sensibilities.” (Publishers Weekly)
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Top Customer Reviews
Disappointment is a bitter, bitter feeling. It's kind of like a sinking ship, where your hopes are all buoyant and untouched, and it slowly but surely begins to slip under the surface of the sea. I remember reading Bethany Griffin's "Masque of the Red Death" a while back, and, while I didn't love it, it was still a decent enough read. So when I found out that its sequel "Dance of the Red Death" was finally being released last week, I eagerly picked up a copy...and ended up feeling like maybe a plague couldn't be that bad after all.
The life of comfort and wealth that seventeen-year-old Araby Worth has disappeared, replaced by a world of betrayal, death and disease. Now onboard a flying ship, Araby, along with the headstrong Elliot, her best friend April, and Will--the boy she loved but was betrayed by--seek to take revenge on Prospero, the cruel and twisted king who allowed the Red Death to spread amongst his people. Araby is determined to save the people she love, even if it means fighting until the very end and partaking in a dance of games in which no one can be trusted.
"How could this be so dang boring?" was pretty much the only thought that crossed through my mind while I was reading "Dance of the Red Death". I think I ended up skimming the first twenty chapters, which sums up to about a good four-fifths of the entire book. What the heck happened? I remember finding the dark and grotesque atmosphere in "Masque of the Red Death" almost captivating, but none of that was really present in the sequel. Literally nothing happens in those twenty chapters. All I remember is some ship-sailing and occasional gun-shooting. The bulk of the book probably serves as some space-filler between the first book and the last four chapters, which was pretty much where the whole point of the book was. Those last few chapters were definitely exciting and twisted, and I feel like if Ms. Griffin had written the entire book based on those last few chapters, it would be way more exciting than it is now. This was just quite a snoozer.
One of the other reasons I probably found "Dance of the Red Death" disappointing was the heroine. Araby is about as interesting as a piece of chalk. Sure, she's definitely a little more...alive in the sequel and has a little more backbone, but she's still such a passive, dull character. I couldn't really get into her mind and empathize with her, despite the fact that I could follow along with her thoughts and emotions, since, you know, you're forced to read about them in the first three-quarters of the entire novel. She's way too caught up in the same emotions of guilt and betrayal that she never really develops smoothly and realistically. And don't get me started on her little love triangle. She's kissing Elliot and Will like there's no tomorrow, without any sort of reflection in it. The fact that made it even worse was the fact that she knew she didn't even like Elliot, since he's twisted and just not the guy for her. My goodness.
I think the saving grace of the novel was, as mentioned before, the last set of chapters, where Araby finally enters the palace and is forced to play Prospero's twisted game. There, the tantalizing darkness we saw in the first book really came to life, with corpses swinging from the ceiling and partygoers glazed in the oblivion of drugs and lust. That was when I really began to pay attention to what was happening and stopped skimming over everything. The tensions were undoubtedly high, and you really became invested in what was happening. It's just too bad that it only happened in the last four chapters of the entire novel.
Overall, "Dance of the Red Death" really fell flat, with a dull heroine and an even duller storyline. Skimming over a chapter is bad enough; skimming over the first twenty chapters is just a definite no-no. Just thank goodness this series ends here--I probably wouldn't pick up the next book if there was one.
Araby Worth and her companions, Elliott, Kent, Will (his little brother and sister), and her best friend (and Elliott's sister), April, have escaped from the burning, flooded, and plague-wrought city. The book opens up with a powerful first sentence: My father is a murderer. Now that is what I call a hook. I was immediately pulled in and reoriented with what was going on at the very end of Masque. Dance of the Red Death picks up exactly where the last book ended and I'm glad it did.
After escaping the city, the gang must regroup and figure out their plan, while evading Prospero and Malcontent's men. Araby is on the hunt for her father. She wants answers and he is the only one that can give them to her. Her biggest question is, Why? She is still reeling from discovering that her father released the plague on the city upon Prospero's orders, but there may be a way to save the city they call home and find a cure for the infected.
The action is only interrupted by short scenes of a little romance [read: desire], revelations of secrets and lies, and some serious plotting. Otherwise, this book kept me wanting more every time I had to put it down to, you know, sleep or go be productive. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you love Poe, steampunk, or anything dark, and thought-provoking, you'll absolutely LOVE Griffin's take on a classic Edgar Allan Poe story.
This second and final book in the series will keep readers on edge as they follow along with Araby in her pursuit to find her father, save her friend, save her city and defeat the two rivals who wish to see its destruction. It is a haunting story filled with heartbreak and loss, a heroine who is faced with difficult decisions and an ending that is bittersweet.
With the Red Death taking lives faster than the Weeping Sickness ever did, with two madmen on a collision course that will leave the city and its citizens in ruins and with two boys who hold a piece of her heart awaiting her decision, Araby Worth's time is running out.
But unless she can find her father, discover a cure for this deadliest of diseases, emerge victorious from Prospero's latest game and stop Malcontent from achieving his goal of total annihilation, there will be no reason for her to choose between a future with Elliott or one with Will. Because there will be no future. Not for her. Not for her friends. Not for anyone.
Beautiful even at its most horrifying, DANCE OF THE RED DEATH weaves its magic and draws readers into its darkly alluring world full of twists and turns, shocks and surprises, with its flawed, damaged, despairing but not defeated, maniacal, malevolent, determined and hopeful characters. All of whom are incredibly fascinating. All of whom serve to make this story one that is memorable.
Author Bethany Griffin gives readers another unique look at a story that has Poe's as its inspiration. She builds the suspense in this sequel, making this a nail-biter, and gives her once directionless protagonist a purpose, turning her into a heroine that is strong, determined and one worth rooting for.
DANCE OF THE RED DEATH is an immensely entertaining finish to this two-book series. With its battle of good versus evil times two, its triangle-shaped love story, its chilling setting, its intriguing characters and the surprises it delivers along the way, it is a story not to be missed.
Note: This review is based on an advance readers copy I received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. However both an electronic and print copy of the book were purchased for my collection.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Once again a popular read on the junior high level.