by Kelly Zekas, Tarun Shanker
Series: These Vicious Masks #1
Published on February 9, 2016 by Swoon Reads
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.
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Supernatural meets Victorian London in These Vicious Masks, a tale of powers set against strong themes of budding friendship and family. I’ve been told to read this book a number of times but it took me until now to actually get around to devouring it in one sitting.
So yeah, it was good.
I’ve seen it marketed as X-Men meets Jane Austen, and I can see that. I’m less familiar with Austen so y’all who know her work better will have to let me know if this book hits the mark. But where X-Men is concerned, These Vicious Masks nails it with evolution taking hold and gifting certain individuals with both amazing as well as destructive powers. Evelyn believes her sister has a power that has gotten her kidnapped and so she’s on the hunt to discover who did it with her best friend Mr. Kent following close behind.
I liked Evelyn for her determination and family loyalty. When her family won’t look into where her sister, Rose, has gone, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Combined with the friendly but slightly sizzling dynamic between her and the mysterious Sebastian, as well as the flirtatious Mr. Kent. I was so shipping her with both gentlemen at various points throughout the book.
But These Vicious Masks didn’t earn full points with me. I loved the supernatural element and would have read it for that alone, but the addition of the Victorian romance didn’t quite work. As separate elements, yes, but together I felt a weird disconnect between the two worlds. And despite my love of romances, especially of the slow burn variety, I ended up reading more for the paranormal side of things because it was simply more intriguing. To be fair, the romance was pretty light in this book so it didn’t affect my reading too much but I have a feeling that it’ll be heavier in the sequel.
The story itself moved quick and this book flew by even when I felt like the plot dragged. Now sometimes I find co-authored books to have a more stop-and-start pace where the writing styles don’t mesh, but if I hadn’t looked at the cover I wouldn’t have known with These Vicious Masks which I think is fabulous.
At the end, there’s. . . I hesitate to call it a cliffhanger, perhaps more of an attempt at shocking the reader, and I wasn’t surprised in the least. Which ultimately took away from the whole book because of the plot’s focus, what happens, etc. (I realize I’m being terribly vague but, you know, spoilers).
As a whole, I enjoyed this book, would absolutely read the sequel (and probably any future books). These Vicious Masks isn’t what I would consider a fantastic first book but it’s entertaining and different enough that I’m likely not to mix it up with anything else. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone looking for an urban fantasy with a Victorian vibe.