Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

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.

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. I was not particularly drawn to this book for starters, and after reading your review I'm not more intrigued, so I think I'll pass on this one...

    1. I wanted it because it's historical fiction (YAY) with a dash of paranormal - that sounds good, right? I'm just not interested in this possible love triangle manifesting in front of me eyes. -_-

  2. I'm kind of glad I didn't request this, now that I read your review. Too bad about the lack of romance! That just makes no sense:-) Maybe there will be more in the next book??

    1. Lack of romance and also potential of a love triangle - no thank you! I'm sure there will be (just a feeling), and I'll probably read a sequel in the future... I'm just not entirely pleased with this book right now. LOL

  3. When it came to requesting this one, I was really torn. The title and cover were awesome and the plot was intriguing, but I don't have a great track record with Swoon Reads books. I request them and then hear meh things about them and don't read them. I still have a few and I'm hoping to get to them but... I don't know. I love your review! I'm considering giving it a shot, but based on your review, I may wait to see if it gets a second book first... <3

    1. THEY ARE! And I personally am a huge fan of historical fiction novels in YA, so I was excited. I've only read one Swoon Reads novel (Velvet), and I liked it. This one was not nearly as agreeable (although, three stars isn't bad!).

      Thank you, Meredith! Hopefully there are more to follow, because I will certainly give them a chance!

  4. Such a shame it wasn't better for you. I'll still have to read it and see for myself of course. :D

  5. Definitely waiting on this one to see where the series goes from here. And I agree, an imprint called "Swoon Reads" should decidedly have swooooonnnnn (and no triangles, because what's swoony about that? LOL).

    1. Like, in general too, right? I've only read two of their novels (this one and Velvet) but I feel like there should be more. More kissing. More something. I expect too much, maybe? But hellooooo, what's in a NAME?! lol

  6. Yuck, I'm sorry that the romance wasn't final :\ How annoying. But glad that you liked a lot of the book, even so :D But aw. Little swoon? I do not approve, lol :D But seems like an interesting book. Just not for me :) Thank you for sharing Alyssa. <3

    1. LOL. Me either! To be honest I still want to read the next book, but I'm hoping there will be no love triangle. It was good otherwise! lol

  7. I'm glad to say that there WILL be a sequel for this book! :D (confirmed it on Twitter with the authors, lol) I agree that ending made me clutch my heart because yooooo. That was NOT nice lol. I really see a potential between Edward and Evelyn, but I agree, I really wanted to see more romance! Hopefully the sequel will provide more? And yeah I'm not a big fan of Mr. Kent; it seemed like there was a potential love triangle but he needs to step aside lol.
    I had very similar problems Alyssa, but still enjoyed it very much. :) (Gave it 4 stars) Either way, awesome review as always!

    - Aila @ One Way Or An Author

    1. *SEBASTIAN I MEANT SEBASTIAN (I have no idea where "Edward" came from omg)

    2. HAHAHA! Your whole comment made me giggle. So happy to hear about another book! And glad that you are also on board with Mr. Kent, ah, scooting along and finding his own chick. ;D

      Thank you, Aila!

  8. I really don't know what to say about this one. It was frustratingly frustrating?!? I so agree with your review. So many holes but wonderful history building of the time period. How they got their powers were never explained well enough and it seems that everyone they bump into has a special power! And yes the romance was very minimal to say the least. One.. may two kisses? and if Sebastian kills everyone he touches he's not going to have too many friends. It's interesting with two authors writing this book. I kept wondering who wrote what part. But totally agree that Evelyn was a tough no nonsense tough cookie! I loved her snark!Another spot on review!

    On a side note, I've been following your blog for a few years (been so loving it! And I do not know how you find the time to read so much and be a college student) but never commented. I never talk to anyone about what I read also. But I know that as you work so hard to give us your great reviews, you may always wonder how do those who read it feel about what you wrote? Feedback is always needed to fuel the fire as they say; it helps you be a better blogger for your followers.. so that's why i've started commenting. :)

    1. I really like the authors! I've had the pleasure of chatting with them and interviewing them (online), and they're so great. Which makes me feel slightly bad for not absolutely loving the book... but you can't help what you don't like. Potential love triangle, slight romance, the ending... I needed more from this story. I am happy to know that there will be two books to follow! Hopefully that pesky triangle will disappear entirely.

      Thank you so much! I appreciate your support, no matter the form! I love the comments so I especially appreciate you taking the time to do so. =) It's not easy, doing the college+blogging route! But I love it. And I do love getting feedback on reviews, no matter the opinion! Thank you for following and reading and commenting - it means a great deal to me. <333


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