Find this review and others on my blog: My Friends Are FictionActual rating 3.5The Story:For me, Dance of the Red Death moved at a faster pace than the first. I was more invested in the story and felt more comfortable with the world and events. I could really see the influence of Edgar Allan Poe's gothic short story, The Masque of the Red Death. I loved finding the corresponding attributes which enhanced my reading experience.There is a masquerade ball! I absolutely love when a story's climax takes place at a dance and masquerade dances are the very best. I can pin-point the moment I fell in love with them, watching Labyrinth starring David Bowie a hundred times when I was a pre-teen. I won't reveal the details of Griffin's ball, but I really enjoyed it and found it so wonderfully disturbing.Griffin wraps up her story arc very neatly and it doesn't seem that there will be another in the series. Loose ends were tied up and I had all the answers I required.The Characters: I felt that Araby was much stronger and self assured in Dance of the Red Death, which helped me enjoy her character more than in the first. However, for the majority of the book I could not fathom why she was involved in the love triangle because both men had committed wrongs that I would not easily or ever forgive.From the first book, (SPOILER IF YOU'VE NOT READ BOOK 1) Will gives her over to Malcontent! Yes, it was to save his siblings, and I think he might have thought about telling her but still that seems pretty unforgivable. Of course, if that's not enough he printed out flyers about Araby's father that created hate towards him and Araby by association. I really liked Will and still see some redeeming qualities, but those are some pretty heinous things to have to forgive to make a relationship work.Now Elliot, he held her over murky, swamp water infested with not only disease but crocodiles. For me personally, that alone would turn me off him for good.Okay, rant over. I don't usually rant like that but it bothered me so much that I had trouble enjoying the interactions and the romantic aspects. I was so sad that I couldn't get fully behind either love interest.Griffin really dives into Prince Prospero's depravity in this book, so much so I felt squeamish at parts. I do wish that she could have focused a bit more on his character just to add some dimension to him. He seemed pretty one dimensional to me; I tend to like my villains to be incredibly complex. Fingers crossed Bethany Griffin will treat us to a novella about him.Final Thoughts: I have some problems with the series as a whole: the love triangle being the worst offender for me. But the atmosphere, gothic aura and nod to Edgar Allan Poe make up for a lot of that.