Friday, March 3, 2017

Review: These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Book Two of the These Vicious Masks series
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.

As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears...

What I Liked:

I think I expected too much from this series. I was so excited to read These Vicious Masks, and when I read it in 2015, I found that I didn't totally love it. But I was cautiously optimistic and immediately pounced on this book when I saw it on NetGalley. And yet... this one was even more disappointing than These Vicious Masks. It was so up-and-down, and while there were some aspects that were okay, there were more that I didn't enjoy. Overall I'm giving the book two stars but I'm honestly struggling to come up with positives..

Evelyn and her other gifted friends want to use their powers for good and find other gifted people. When they get caught trying to rescue a young girl with telekinetic powers, they are rescued by the Society of Aberrations. Several members of the Society try to convince Evelyn that they are doing good work, despite everything in the past. While some of Evelyn's friends decide to join, Evelyn does not, at first. How does she know that the Society is truly reformed? Who can she trust? Even in entering a tentative partnership with the Society, Evelyn doesn't trust anyone. Meanwhile, she has more than enough going on in terms of society, balls, her Little Season, and a potential marriage proposal. But it's all going to come down to the ball her family is throwing her - when two worlds collide, there is bound to be disaster.

Things I liked... hmm. I feel like I'm going to write my review in a bit of a cyclical way. You'll find more information in the next section (because I disliked more than I liked). But there were some things I liked - it's just that I also disliked those things too.

For example: I'm really glad that love triangle gets cleared up, by the end of this book. I hate love triangles, and this one was ridiculous and poorly written. So yay for Evelyn making a choice, Sebastian making a choice, and Mr. Kent making a choice, by the end of the book. BUT, the fact that the love triangle is in this book at all is a strike against the book. See what I mean? A thing I liked but overall, disliked.

I'm honestly sturggling to come up with things I liked about this book, so I'm going to move on.

What I Did Not Like:

I didn't like Evelyn's decision-making. I didn't like the love triangle. I didn't like the pacing. I didn't like the plot. I didn't like the ending.

Basically there was very little that didn't go wrong for me. I'll start with Evelyn. Her decision-making, from the start of this book, is terrible. I feel like she got stupider instead of smarter? It's like she's going backwards in the series, in terms of character development. She acts selfishly for the entire book, by stringing Mr. Kent along, or not voicing her feelings to Sebastian, or pushing Mae at Sebastian (for selfish, stupid reasons), or by saving the life of one person at the end of the book instead of _____ (leaving that blank because of spoilers). Evelyn is incredibly selfish; what's sad is that she thinks she is considering everyone and thinking of everyone, but she is only ever thinking of herself. Finding Sebastian? Finding Mr. Hale? The big plan at the climax, in which she invited all of her friends to help her? It's like Evelyn does not learn.

Also, at other times, it's like she didn't know how to open her mouth and say no. No, Mr. Kent, I don't want your affections or for you to kiss me. No, Mother, I don't want to spend time with Lady Atherton. No, Mother, I don't want to be courted by Lord Atherton (this is not part of the romance, trust me. More of a nuisance than anything else). Evelyn is supposedly feisty and outspoken, but it's like she bit off her tongue when her voice mattered most. 

I hate love triangles. I worried about the development of a love triangle in this series, given what I read in These Vicious Masks. Mr. Kent is the childhood friend, the flirt and charmer, the one has been in love with Evelyn for years and even proposed to her before. Sebastian is the handsome, brooding, dangerous young man who is tortured about his particular power. I don't really have anything against Mr. Kent, but I hate him as a love interest. He's so hilarious and quite the flirt, but he's all wrong for Evelyn. I dislike how Evelyn doesn't refuse his attention and even tries to force herself to fall for him (which doesn't work). I don't like it when the heroine lets someone kiss her and clearly doesn't want the experience, but lets it happen anyway. 

Also, can we talk about how clearly Sebastian is endgame, but it's not Sebastian that kisses Evelyn (or that Evelyn kisses) in this book? Um, Swoon Reads? Why are you so disappointing? I swear, every single Swoon Reads book has made me complain about the complete lack of swoon in their books. "Regular" non-Swoon-Reads YA books have more swoon than this imprint's books? This is a problem? I'm so over it.

To begin with, I don't find love triangles swoony. I find books even less swoony when the MAIN COUPLE NEVER KISSES IN THE BOOK. Especially given the massive amounts of NO SWOON in These Vicious Masks (yes, that sentence doesn't quite make sense).

The pacing - gosh this book was so boring. I honestly don't even remember what happened in the first 75% of the book. Things only started "happening" as Evelyn's grand ball drew closer. Pretty much everything in the first half of the book (or 75% of the book, really) didn't matter or didn't stick because it didn't matter. Like you could read the last 25% of the book with no problem, and find out all you need to know about the book. Sequel slump, anyone?

This kind of goes along with the plot - I felt like nothing was really happening, in the first half of the book. The story moved too slowly and when things did happen, the scenes were boring. I was very, very bored, while reading this book. It's so short and yet it took me three times as long to read this book as it did to read Traitor to the Throne. You all know how long that book is, right? I could barely keep my eyes open (in terms of These Ruthless Deeds). 

That ending! What the heck! It's all kind of maniacal and brutal! I obviously can't say anything specific about it but goodness! The authors went all out. The only good thing I will say about the ending in general is that the love triangle is a done deal, and hopefully it will never plague the series again. 

A final note - the authors do a poor job of bringing readers back into the story. You know how authors will do that mini info-dump in the first chapter that summarizes the previous book, so you're not totally lost? That didn't happen in this book (or simply was not effective). I barely remembered anything from These Vicious Masks, and really had a hard time getting into this one. Maybe reread book one before reading this book.

Would I Recommend It:

After reading this book, I actually no longer recommended this series. I can't even recommend the book, if you've read These Vicious Masks. This series just isn't impressive, the romance isn't swoony, nothing about this series is swoony or action-packed like X-Men. Where is that comparison even coming from? Maybe try this series when all of the books are published. This book suffers from a really bad case of sequel slump but maybe book three will knock the series out of the park.


2.5 stars -> rounded down to 2 stars. Initially I gave this book 3 stars but I started trying to think of things I liked about the book... and could barely come up with one. Honestly this book was more of an ordeal than anything else but I'm glad I read it. I'll definitely be reading book three because I need to know what happens next. But I'll also definitely survive if I never read book three.

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


  1. No Alyssa nooooo. I liked These Vicious Masks so much last year... I've been hardcore rooting for the same couple as you and I'm hoping the done deal at the end is in our favour?!? I'm so sad this book didn't work out for you :'(

  2. Awww..bummer. This was one of those series that sounded fun and I was hoping to binge read the two together once this came out. I may still try it, LOL you never know. But I don't like boring (haha, who does?) and love triangles are fine but only if they're really, really well done. I love that you still gave this one a try even after not loving the first, though. There's always hope! :D Great honest review, Alyssa!

  3. I'm so sorry that this book didn't work out for you Alyssa, it's always disappointing when a follow up falls short especially if you really enjoyed the first book. Also I have the worst memory ever, so generally prefer brief recaps at least, so I can be sure of what happened. But thank you for your honest review!

  4. Yeah, you mentioned love triangle and I got it. That alone would be enough to put me off and I find most of them are driven by selfishness or at the least weakness in not saying no so the fact that she was that way about everything else, too? Cool cover and the blurb made me curious, but not enough to read a love triangle.

    Thanks, Alyssa!

  5. Baaah, that's definitely crappy! Seriously, no more to the love triangle! And I hate when you have optimism for it, holding out that bit of hope and it kinda crushes you, sigh. I'm sorry this series just kept going down, it sounded like it did have some potential. Ah well.
    Thanks for the review, Alyssa!

  6. I haven't read the first book yet but this has me :( I trust your reviews because we seem to have very similar taste, so now I'm hesitant to even read book one and invest myself in a series that's blah. I'm so sorry you didn't enjoy this one :( :( :(

  7. nooo not a freaken love triangle >.< yeah for a swoon reads, you would expect a good romance. I sometimes wonder why some authors bother with love triangles when there is so much hate for them

  8. Wow...this book seems like it has quite a few issues. The biggest one for me would be that you say it was boring. I can't do boring. Oh well...that cover is gorgeous though.

  9. Uuuugh. I'm SO SORRY that this book was so awful sweetie :( Yeah.. I have heard that about swoon reads too. No swoon. Just. What. Why? I don't get it at all. Ugh. This book sounds awful :( And love triangle too? Uuuugh. So glad I did not want to read book one, haha. Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts Alyssa. <3

  10. A Swoon Reads books without any swoon?! That's the worst! Honestly I was quite intrigued by this series before your review, but after your description of the horrible love triangle I'm thinking that I'll have to steer clear. Sebastian sounds exactly like the kind of romantic hero I adore, but not when he doesn't even get to use the powers of swoon!

  11. Oh goodness. That's a lot of nope. It's bad when you get to the end and struggle to find any positives :(

  12. I haven't read this series, but it doesn't sound to great. I always feel worse when I am iffy about a book and then the ending is blah I am like why did I spend time reading this. I hope your next read is a great one!!!

  13. I'm sorry to hear this book was disappointing. I have the first book on my TBR but honestly I am going to put it off until the next book comes out and see the reception it is getting.

    Thank you for the honest review

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

  14. Whoaaaa Alyssa, I was excited to read this book and then the 2 stars you gave it threw me off! I enjoyed book 1, but still had problems (especially with the love triangle). I guess book 2 doesn't get better... I really dislike seeing Evelyn's character so passive like that, and her choices just seem yawn-inducing. Plus, the way you describe that ending... :/ well, maybe I should just leave this series unfinished as it is, lol. Save myself some time and disappointment.

    Weird thing about Swoon reads is that they're branching out to non-romance books as well? Haha, I don't even know. :P their books are a hit or miss with me! Awesome review though.

    - Aila


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