Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Early Review - Dance of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death, Book 2) by Bethany Griffin (4.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Steampunk
Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: June 11, 2013
ISBN: 978-0062107824
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Masque of the Red Death series
Source: eGalley through Edelweiss
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

This is the second and final book in the Masque of the Red Death duology by Griffin. I really loved both books in this series. I love the contrast between grime settings and beauty of the crazy world that is created here.

Araby is fleeing the city she loves so much with members of the Rebellion. They need to regroup and find a way to save their city. Araby wants to return to the city to find her father and hopefully a cure for April. Elliot on the other hand wants to raid the Prince’s palace so he can return to the city with much needed food and weapons. Both of them are determined to find a way to cure the Red Death and cleanse the city of its disease.

Griffin does such an excellent job with this world and with creating a bleak and dark atmosphere that is sprinkled with bright glimmers of beauty. This is a world of disease and grotesque beauty where even the smallest glimmers of good will and hope stand out brilliantly. The language throughout is beautiful and really made these scenes come alive for me.

In this book we learn more about the Red Death and about the disease that struck down the world before current time. We learn about Araby’s father’s involvement in the whole thing as well.

Much of this book is dedicated to Araby searching out her father while Elliot plots to take the city away from the Prince (his uncle). Along the way they must dodge the men of the man who has been terrorizing the city, who is Elliot’s father (although Elliot isn’t aware of this in the beginning of the book, Araby is). There is much rabble rousing and strategizing and a mystery to be solved about a mysterious machine that can drain the swamp away from the city.

There is still a love triangle going on between Araby, Elliot, and Will. I liked how all of this wrapped up; I thought it was appropriate and fit the story well.

I also liked Araby a lot more in this book than the last one; she is much less naive and takes more action. You can tell she is finally emerging from the depression that gripped her in the first book. While she dislikes the gore and death around her she never flinches from it and does what needs to be done. She still comes across as weak at times, but you can tell she is finally turning into someone she is comfortable with.

Griffin does a phenomenal job of giving the reader the unexpected; for example in the darkest and dankest of settings the characters will have some of the most tender and loving scenes while in the gilttery beauty of a ballroom the most awful and horrible things will happen. I really enjoyed the unexpected contrast in these scenes.

The story does have a bit of a steampunk feel to it; there are airships and clockwork mechanisms, as well as some tinkering with genetics. Society has reverted to Victorian type of sensibilities, so this also lends a bit of a steampunk vibe to the story. However this story is also one about a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by disease and about the people who try to survive in it. There is also a gothic feel to the story with all of the Victorian-like tragedy and talk of death.

I thought this book wrapped up the series well and did an excellent job doing it. The writing flowed well, was engaging, and the book was very easy to read. Mostly I just had trouble putting it down!

Overall an absolutely wonderful conclusion to this duology. I really enjoyed how Araby grew as a character and continue to love this dark and dreadful world. I also loved the beautiful writing and how Griffith often had beautiful things happen in horrible settings or visa versa; the contrast between beauty and tragedy was interesting and ironic. I definitely recommend this series to fans of YA books; this is a creative YA read that is a bit steampunk, a bit gothic, and a bit post-apocalyptic.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- Get Steampunk’d Reading Challenge
- 150+ Reading Challenge
- Color Coded Reading Challenge
- Young Adult Reading Challenge

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