Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review: Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

When I first started blogging in May of 2012, one of the first books I read and reviewed was Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin. I really loved the book and was so excited when I saw that the sequel would be out this year. When I decided to participate in Readers Imbibing Peril VIII in honor of the Halloween season, I knew finally getting around to read Dance of the Red Death would be just the thing.

Plot: The book picks up almost exactly after the end of Masque of the Red Death. It goes through the rebellion, and Araby trying to figure out her feelings for the two guys in her life, all while worrying about her mother, who is a captive in Prince Prospero's castle, and her father, who is missing. I thought the plot moved along nicely and I was never bored. 

Characters: I'll admit to being a little annoyed with Araby in this book. More so than I was in the first one. She's a character who starts out weak and ends up strong by the end of this book, which I can totally get behind, but she wasn't always very upstanding about things. I don't want to give spoilers, but let's just say there is a time when she realizes who she ought to be with, and which guy she definitely doesn't want to be with, and then ends up making out with him for ten minutes after coming to that conclusion. Really? Come on Araby. That's just a douchy thing to do.

Dystopian World-Building: The world-building for this story is fantastic. I thought so in the first book and the well-imagined setting remains throughout this one. Aside from the dystopian city, there are swamps with sinister alligators, creepy underground tunnels, and of course, Prospero's party with the seven, many-colored rooms. If I had any complaints about book 1, it was that we didn't actually get to the part that was the crux of Edgar Allen Poe's short story. We get it in this one and I thought it was very well done. Dark, sinister, downright chilling. The one thing I wished had been differently--though this is entirely my opinion as a writer of stories myself--was how the virus was introduced to the party. 

Okay, mild spoilers ahead. If you don't want to know, skip the rest of this paragraph! In Poe's story, a person, or at least a spectre of one, comes through the party spreading the Red Death. Griffin went with a vial containing the virus that shatters. Not that it was at all bad. I actually thought that scene was very well-written, but it just would have been so much more dramatic had it been a person who was infected anyway--like Araby's friend--getting a final justice before succumbing themselves or something. Again, not bad. Just not how I would have done it.

Romance: The romance was pretty good. Let's just say she ended up with who I wanted, and who I kind of figured all along. So it wasn't a shock, but with romance that's actually a good thing. Other than the thing I mentioned earlier about Araby's less-that-upstanding behavior, I thought the romance was tastefully handled.

Twists: The twists weren't huge or mind-blowing, but as I said earlier, the plot was definitely enough to keep me riveted. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ending: The ending was fitting and a good overall end to the story. While I think she could get more books out of this world easily, I thought there was a lot of closure. (This is only a two book series, so there won't be any more.)

Overall it was a really good read and I would recommend it, both for a dystopian read and for a Halloween one. I hope Bethany Griffin keeps writing. I would be willing to pick up her next novel, no matter what genre. :D

Has anyone else read these books? What did you think of them?

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