Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review & Discussion: Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (Retellings)

So this past month I've been buddy reading with Hannah the Masque of the Red Death and Dance of the Red Death series by Bethany Griffin. The books are based on a very short Edgar Allen Poe short story called The Masque of the Red Death. I'm a huge fan of Poe, and loved the story a lot. [read my post on Poe HERE].
I even watched the movie starring Vincent Price as Prince Prospero. Hannah didn't read the book or watch the movie first, and I thought it was interesting seeing how our opinions compared reading a retelling. Were they as shaped by our thoughts (or lack there-of ) of the original?

There's a lot to like about retellings. They have the potential to be amazing. First, they're often based
on timeless classics/well loved stories that have stood the test of time and been universally agreed upon as being phenomenal. Tweaking the story but leaving the world, or some characters the same is a way to ensure that many people will like those parts. It's equally true they could hate the things that were changed about the character, or setting as well.

My review of Masque of the Red Death

My review of Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars :star :star :star

So I have been putting my thoughts together about his book for a few days now, and there's definitely some stuff I need to get off my chest.

I really really enjoyed the first book. It was amazing, atmospheric, and I was impressed by the world Griffin created. I'm a huge fan of the original story by  Edgar Allan Poe, and it's amazing how such a short story instilled so much in my memory about what the world and characters "ought" to have been. The author matched it head on, too. It helped too that I watched the movie starring Vincent Price as Prince Prospero and his evil laughter filled my head as I read about the antics of Prospero and his infamous party in this book. So deliciously evil. 

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Yet, there were definite problems with this book. In the first book I changed teams -- going from team Will to team Elliott before Will did "the thing we won't speak of." Then, he did the
thing and I was like, ok he's never going to here deemed for this! Oh, but that only means that he can and will be redeemed and blah. Ensue pissy bitchy resting face for the entirety of this sequel. I didn't understand how Araby could have tender intimate moments with Elliott and then act like it never happened and just shove him aside without an explanation? You can't trust him, yet he's never betrayed you, lied to you, or screwed you over like a certain other gentleman... So. F'd. Up. So yeah, that was a big reason I disliked this book. It wasn't handled well NOR was it resolved well at the end. SMH, Araby...SMH.

That brings me to the other colossal mistake in this book -- the ending. Oh, where do I even start? Since this is spoiler free I (luckily) don't have to go into the details of why each facet failed, but I do have to say, it sucked. The resolution was pretty much nonexistent. It doesn't make sense. I feel badly for Elliott. And, I am left with a feeling that Araby is acting like an entitled and spoiled little biotch. Yeah, I said it Araby. Grow the F up and let your father take responsibility for his actions. Gah.

Ok, rant..I mean, review over. All in all I liked the retelling as a whole. Disagree with the way it ended, and wish some major things played out differently. Will I recommend this book to others?
Maybe. Read the original first. Don't expect amazing, expect "good". With that in mind, I'd recommend it. I will read more by this author though, she's proven to be badass at world building and creativity.


I'm just curious -- do you like retellings? Do you shy away from them, seek them out, or just read them if they come your way?
For me, it's the latter. I read them if they come my way. Sometimes I do get excited because I see hype for one and good reviews by my friends, and I am fond of the original I go for it! Most recently, For Darkness Shows the Stars. I haven't read it yet, and I didn't seek it out because it was a retelling..but I am excited to read it.
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(aka Dee) has loved reading for as long as she can remember. She loves many things: fantasy novels, young adult fiction, her cat, painting, and horror films from the 70s. Diamond is a grad student at UCLA. She's pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science.


  1. Wow, I never knew that this was a retelling of Edgar Allen Poe! Makes me want to read it more!

    Lovely review! <3

    1. Really!! Omg Mel, you TOTALLY have to!! I think you'd like it. You'd be so scare though. I know you don't like scary books too much but I noticed u have been trying them out sometimes. think on it! :P


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