This is a novel (series) based off Poe’s short story of the same name. To be honest, I don’t remember Poe’s story. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it. So, even if you’re not familiar with the story – don’t fret! Griffin’s novel stands on its own. I think it might have been better without my constant comparisons, too. ;)
Araby Worth (what a fabulous name!) tries to find Oblivion. To do so, she goes to the famous Debauchery Club in the Debauchery District and takes drugs that she doesn’t know the names of. She wants to escape reality: that the world is plagued (ha ha!) by a deadly virus that kills people within days. Her twin brother, Finn, died of that plague when they were little.
Araby’s best friend, April, is the one who brings her to the clubs. But they go for completely different reasons. April’s are never really known to the reader.
The story takes place over a few weeks, mixing together murder (even in times of plague!), mystery, and intrigue. The mystery comes in when April’s brother, Elliot, asks Araby to join him in a Revolution. He wants to bring down the reign of Prince Prospero and rebuild the city that has fallen.
There’s love! (Araby falls for Will, a worker at the Debauchery Club. She also has mixed feelings for Elliot.) There’s twists! (Involving Araby’s parents.) And an ending that leaves room for a sequel. (There’s no news on Bethany Griffin’s website about the sequel, yet, but Goodreads has marked it as #1 of the series.)
I liked it. I know it’s a simple answer, but it’s true. I’m a fan of Poe’s and I liked Griffin’s idea of taking a short story and expanding it to encompass characters in that world. The characters are completely realized and their own stories come through. It’s easy to love (and hate) some of them. Araby’s a fabulous focal character, too. There’s a lot of tragedy with her character, which I always love.
It’s not an easy read, but the writing is fluid and sure to grab even a reluctant reader to be engrossed. It’s definitely something to recommend, especially for horror fans. And since it’s classified as steampunk, it’ll grab those fans, too! But all around, it was a good read and really grabs for your attention.
The one thing I don’t like is the idea of a sequel. Griffin certainly sets it up for another book, but I’m a little tired of series books. So that took away from the overall rating.
Set to release next year (2013), DANCE OF THE RED DEATH will be the second book.
For the teachers out there – there’s so much information to connect this to Poe’s original idea. (You can check Griffin’s website for a source. Novel Novice is another one.) I think that’s pretty awesome. I would definitely consider using this in my own classroom! I think it’s a great way to bring readers in. And the story’s not just for girls. Guys will dig it, too!
I loved this in the FAQ section:
I have been alive long enough to remember when Kurt Cobain was alive and when he died. Long enough to remember before The Lord of The Rings was a movie, but not before it was a book. The first album I ever picked out and bought for myself was Madonna’s Like a Virgin.
^ Mostly because I remember that, too!