Review: Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Dance of the Red Death
Bethany Griffin
Masque of the Red Death, #2
Release Date: June 11th, 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Number of Pages: 336
Rating: 3.5 stars
Word Rating: Satisfactory

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Bethany Griffin continues the journey of Araby Worth in Dance of the Red Death—the sequel to her teen novel Masque of the Red Death. 

In Dance of the Red Death, 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. 

With a nod to Edgar Allan Poe, Bethany Griffin concludes her tragic and mysterious Red Death series with a heroine that young adult readers will never forget.

This review is SPOILER-FREE for Masque of the Red Death.

In retrospect, reading Dance of the Red Death while I was sick may not have been my smartest idea. The wonderfully grotesque and dark atmosphere of the plague-ridden world in Masque of the Red Death was enough to send me a fit of countless chills, and I read Masque in a healthy state that was rather polarizing to the state in which I read Dance of the Red Death. Needless to say, I imagine, the atmosphere developed even more thoroughly in Dance of the Red Death made much more of an impact on me than it did in Masque, which was something I hadn't initially expected. While I had expected Griffin to maintain the same level of grotesque beauty (as contradictory as that may sound) she had developed in her world in Masque of the Red Death, that grotesque beauty was further expanded upon in Dance of the Red Death, and that, coupled with the fact that I read Dance while I was sick, made my reading experience feel that much more tangible, chilling, and immersing than I could have ever imagined it being.

One of my favorite things about these two novels and the world in which they take place is that Bethany Griffin doesn't shy away from the gory, disturbing, and often heartbreaking details that would inevitably be prominent should the world undergo such a drastic plague as the one in Masque of the Red Death and Dance of the Red Death. Death is amidst practically every street corner, so to speak, in Dance of the Red Death, and Griffin doesn't shy away from describing the somewhat gory effects of the plague, as I imagine far too many authors would, in fear of disturbing their audience. Without these very details, I feel that the world in which Araby and others are trying desperately to survive would bear less of an impact and the character's struggles would bear less of a weight had we not been presented what could happen due to the plague first hand.

Araby has grown as a character from Masque of the Red Death to Dance of the Red Death quite significantly, and even better, believably. Where Masque of the Red Death left off, Araby was a pretty naive character, and while that may have been slightly remedied and contradicted throughout the course of Masque, I feel that naiveté of Araby is thrown out the window in Dance, as she morphs into a genuinely strong character capable of fending for herself. The other characters, however, I wish were met with the same development. I really enjoyed seeing Araby and April's relationship once again, and they had their heartwarming moments, but in the end I feel it lacked that certain amount of development that would have made their relationship that more touching as the novel progressed. As well as that, I, unfortunately, don't have as much enthusiasm for this love triangle in Dance as I did in Masque. Without giving too much away, it almost felt like the same revelations regarding the love triangle and the two love interests in it were recycled from Masque and haphazardly placed into Dance, which ultimately led to some moments that were intended to be shocking to be slightly frustrating for me.

But, in the end, with those qualms as well as one concerning the rather uneven pacing towards the middle aside, Dance of the Red Death is an undeniably worthwhile follow-up to Masque of the Red Death, and ultimately is a satisfying conclusion to the Masque of the Red Death duology. With a gorgeously rendered world and atmosphere, a strong female lead, some genuinely touching moments alongside some genuinely intense moments, Dance of the Red Death should certainly not be missed by fans of Masque of the Red Death, nor should Masque of the Red Death be missed by anyone who pines for those aforementioned points in a novel.


  1. Wait, this series only has two books in it?! How refreshing!

    I've got Masque sitting on my shelf. I was excited to get to it before, but even more so now that I can expect gory details about the plague!

  2. This sounds like another great series. You have definitely convinced me to check it out. Great review.

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