Author: Bethany Griffin
Genre: YA, Gothic, Post-Apocalyptic, Plagues, Dystopia
Publication Date: June 11, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided finished copy
Summary: 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.
☆: 4/5 stars – Going to miss this duology so much!
Review: When I heard that there was going to be a sequel to “Masque of the Red Death”, I was incredibly excited. Almost indecently so. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. And when I did, most of what I’d been hoping for in terms of a resolution to the duology as a whole was more or less lived up to – though there were a few sticking points that kind of prevented this book from becoming from the five star wonder that I was hoping it would be. Regardless, I think everyone who read “Masque of the Red Death” will find something to love in “Dance of the Red Death”.
The great thing about this book is that we get a few new characters, but they’re not major enough to shake up the insane dynamic that Griffin created in book one. Unfortunately, there is still the love triangle that goes on, but Griffin does play with it rather well and turns it into a symbolic choosing of future paths for Araby by containing them in Will and Elliott. I’m not sure most readers will see it that way as it does drag into a rather significant portion of the book, but that’s the way I read into it. This book is takes off right after the events at the end of book one, and really kind of starts with a bang as we realize that April is not getting better, the city is both burning and flooding, and it’s all pretty much going to hell, and the choices that Araby must make are really starting to come fast and hard, and any naivete she might have had in book one is literally being burned away. The characters the Griffin has in this duology are wonderful and unforgettable, and they really help further build the world that doesn’t expand too much, but just enough to fit the events that unfold therein.
What was the best part of this book was watching Araby’s personal character development/journey arc. She changes pretty dramatically, yet keeps most of the charm that made me fall in love with her, April, and the rest in book one. She really grows into herself as a person, and recognizes that she can no longer hide from reality (poverty, disease, violence, and death) by staying at the Debauchery Club (which cleverly gets turned into revolutionary headquarters, I chuckled over that) and by living in her high apartment in the Akkadian Towers. She no longer has the time to waste by throwing herself into oblivion with Elliott’s silver needle, she has to put her big girl panties on and look after April, find the cure as written within her father’s notebook, and also deal with how he was involved with the original weeping sickness and now the red death. Griffin tortures/kills her darlings really well in this book – even moreso than book one, and with no one better than with Araby.
There are a ton of big reveals in this book – the true identity of Malcontent, more on Prospero, the aforementioned roles Araby’s father played in all of these events unfolding, and more. All of this makes for wonderful non-love triangle-fueled tension, to the point where it’s on every page. Where is the cure? Is there really a cure? Is Araby’s father dead? And what’s going on with this “final masquerade” that Prospero is throwing? So many questions, so much tension, and it all gets answered in some way or another by the end of the book in extremely awesome ways – one of my favorites being the end of Prospero himself.
The biggest issue I had: how long the love triangle dragged into the book. While I understand why Griffin did that, I still feel like there could have been another solution. But she did make it up to us by making us see that by choosing Elliott, Araby would have been choosing a more tangible revenge, a lifetime of impulses instead of real feelings and generally, deception. By choosing Will, is she working with the enemy, one that hates her father? But at the same time, she would be choosing a lifetime of true feelings, and in general, truth in all things. Griffin did a great job by really making these two black and white (even with their shades of gray in between), and a very dichotomized choice of future paths for Araby to take.
Otherwise? The world is just as lush, the prose just as gorgeous, and the violence just as eloquent as it was in book one. If you read “Masque”, you definitely can’t miss “Dance”. “Dance of the Red Death” is out now from HarperTeen in North America, so definitely check it out when you get the chance. It’s not part of my best of 2013 list for nothing, guys.