by Bethany Griffin
To be published by Greenwillow Books
on June 11, 2013
Source: e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss.
Connect with the author: website : Twitter.
Summary (adapted from Goodreads:) 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.
Twenty words or fewer: a moody, atmospheric story of love, death, madness and betrayal that will appeal to fans of Lauren DeStefano's Wither series.
My (longer) take: Spoiler-free for both books!
I really enjoyed Masque of the Red Death -- you can read my review here -- and was very excited to read this.
Dance of the Red Death takes up right where the first book left off, and with little to no recap.The book offered a few memory-jogging reminders here and there, but there were definitely things I'd forgotten about the first book.
What was impossible to forget was the sad, spooky, ravaged story world in which this book takes place. My review of Masque of the Red Death called the book something like post-apocalyptic steampunk Gothic horror, and the description still stands. These books are studies in contrasts: love and death, beauty and horror, betrayal and sacrifice. In this city ravaged by disease, there is an elevated neighborhood inhabited by the rich, a seedily chic nightclub, a swamp, and a castle with turrets and a drawbridge. There's cool alt-technology -- hot air balloons and steam carriages -- but all the residents have to protect them from disease are masks, and only the rich can afford them.
The books also feature characters who are full of contradictions. In Masque of the Red Death, Araby is naive and a little spoiled, but also truly grieving her brother's death. As that book progressed, she learned hard truths about both her parents, was betrayed by someone she thought was trustworthy, and learned that someone close to her had caught the contagion. In Dance of the Red Death, she's sadder but wiser. She -- and a group who has escaped the city in an airship -- hope to track down a rumored vaccine for the contagion and find a way to get clean water to the masses.
Just as in the first book, much of Araby's angst is centered around her attraction to two guys -- one with a tortured past and idealistic dreams of fixing the city's ills, the other gruff but nurturing. The triangle-y aspect of this didn't bother me as much as some, because I thought I could see which way things were headed. In Dance of the Red Death, Araby is still processing a betrayal by one of the guys, and thus does kind of torture both of them by leading one on while pining for the other. Usually that kind of stuff drives me nuts, but I guess in a book filled with so much gloom and despair, this just added on more in a way that kind of worked for me.
What I did wish for was the long promised masked ball scene. Yes, it's finally there, though as part of the climactic showdown, so there wasn't as much of a focus on the ball as pure macabre spectacle as I'd hoped. The book ends with some loss and sadness -- of course -- but also on a note of hope.
All in all, I've really enjoyed this pair of books. I definitely recommend them, and can't wait to see what Bethany Griffin writes next!
I'll be giving away BOTH these books this week for Freebie Friday, so be sure to stop by!
|American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France|
It's Memorial Day here in the US, a day to remember and honor men and women who died in service to our country.
Last year, I did a review series called YA on the Homefront, which begins here. I reviewed If I Lie by Corrine Jackson, Personal Effects by E. M. Kokie, and Something Like Normal by Trish Doller, all of which focus to some extent on soldiers who lost their lives in battle and the hardships suffered by their loved ones. All were great and moving stories that I wholeheartedly recommend.