These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Jane Austen meets X-Men in this gripping and adventure-filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.
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.
What I Liked:
I should probably give this book a lower rating but I can't. I enjoyed some aspects so much! Other aspects really REALLY annoyed me. Not nearly as polarizing as Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman - the only thing I really couldn't stand about that book was the ending (everything else was lovely!). But there were some big things that didn't sit well with me - it could just be me though!
Evelyn has always been bored when it comes to society and balls and operas and social gatherings. She's made her debut so she's supposed to be on the hunt for her husband. Unfortunately, her younger sister mysteriously disappears, and it's up to Evelyn to find her. She heads to London with her friend Mr. Kent, but stumbles upon a situation must larger than her or Rose. To save Rose, Evelyn must accept Mr. Braddock's help, as well as accept some frightening things about the world - and herself.
I absolutely adore Evelyn. She's hilarious and so snarky/sassy - her sarcasm and wit is EXACTLY like my sense of humor/camaraderie, so we'd probably get along well (I don't *think* we'd hate each other?). Evelyn is a bit angry, confrontational, bold, and outspoken. She's somewhat impulsive, and she's absolutely determined to find her sister when Rose disappears. Evelyn's qualities make her a very likable heroine, one that I enjoyed following.
The story is set in nineteenth-century England, which I'm very familiar with and really love (I read waaaay too many adult historical romance novels!). The authors did an excellent job of constructing the world and getting the time period correct, as well as authentically creating the setting and dialogue and whatnot. And then there is the paranormal aspect, which I also thought was well-written.
There are people with extraordinary abilities, like superhuman strength, healing, being able to create doors out of nowhere and travel through them, see the future. Several key players in the story have abilities, which Evelyn slowly discovers. At first she's skeptical, but then she sees the abilities at work with her own eyes.
There are two male protagonists - unfortunately. Sebastian (Mr. Braddock) is our lovely brooding hero who helps Evelyn enter and understand the hidden paranormal world. Sebastian is such an intriguing and captivating character, and I really liked interactions and scenes with him involved.
Nicholas (Mr. Kent), on the other hand, just wasn't as interesting. He's Evelyn's friend, but I had a weird feeling about him from the start. I think he's an okay guy in general, and he's loyal to Evelyn, but there is something off about him.
There is romance in this book, but not nearly enough to really discuss. You could say that things have transpired between Mr. Braddock and Evelyn, but not enough to say that they have some earth-shattering love or something. I adored the interactions between Evelyn and Sebastian - they had a lot of cute banter and temperamental "fights" and general hilarious encounters.
I think I was a bit let down by the end of this book! This book could benefit from a sequel (I really really hope there will be a sequel). A lot happened all at once, and the ending felt open. Hopefully there will be more to follow!
What I Did Not Like:
For a book published by an imprint called "Swoon Reads", there was a distinct lack of actual swoon. That would be my first complaint. Where the heck are all the feels and swoony scenes? And kissing scenes too? Hmph.
Next complaint - you could say that there is potential for a love triangle to appear. Sebastian has feelings for Evelyn. I think Nicholas always had feelings for Evelyn. Evelyn... doesn't love Nicholas and has feelings for Sebastian, but the ending of this book isn't good enough for me, in terms of the romance, to make me think that there will be NO love triangle ever. Like it really wasn't a love triangle in this book, but I could see the authors throwing one in there just for the heck of it, in future books. If there will be anything to follow this one.
On that note, my third complaint. What the heck was up with that ending?! It wasn't necessary cruel, but it wasn't "nice" either. Hello? Swoon Reads? There was little swoon and no HEA. Not to mention the romance could have been a little more *there*. Also kissing. There was a death in the ending, and that didn't really bother me. The lack of resolution in terms of the romance? Definitely bothered me.
So... sequel? I'm pretty confident that there'll be one, but it would help to know for sure. It probably wouldn't make my rating go up to know that there will be one (if there will be one), but it would certainly make me feel better. Or worse, if the authors are planning to develop a love triangle. In that case, no thank you. End everything where it is.
Would I Recommend It:
Okay look. I think I liked this book. It was good! But those things mentioned above are pretty big and pretty annoying to me, so the rating went down and so did my chances of recommending this book. Perhaps read it at once book two publishes (I'm almost 100% sure there will be a sequel. Gut feeling.). This book is a feel-good cute one but like, up until a point.
3 stars. I'll definitely read the next book (I'm going off the assumption that there WILL be a second book), but I'm slightly disappointed by this book. It's so sad because of all of Macmillan's spring publishing, this was the one I was looking forward to the most! And it was... okay. Somewhat.
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