These Vicious Masks #1
Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
Paranormal Young Adult
Available February 9th
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (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.
These Vicious Masks is a fun start to this series, a heroine with a delightfully quick wit bringing a smile to our faces even when life and death are on the line. Mr. Shanker and Ms. Zekas have a gift for writing hilarious banter, making the interactions between Evelyn and everyone she encounters–especially Mr. Kent–a highlight of this first installment.
Evelyn is a young woman with modern sensibilities stuck in a time period governed by societal rules that have her chafing at the bit, and while we can't help but applaud her for flaunting her disregard for those rules as she tries to find her sister, we also wince on her behalf when the might of Ton shows her that their apparent frivolity has real power behind it. Evelyn's smart mouth is only one of the reasons she's such an enjoyable protagonist however, with her determination to find her sister and her ability to actually communicate with those aiding in her search also joining the list. She does go charging into a number of potentially dangerous situations in the hopes she'll find Rose, but she at least doesn't do so on her own and takes what precautions she can to ensure her safety.
While the mention of both Mr. Kent and Sebastian Braddock in the synopsis might give many an avid young adult reader the beginnings of a nervous eye tic, no true triangle forms in this first book as Evelyn's focus is almost exclusively on locating her sister. Mr. Kent does makes his romantic interest known toward the end, but the banter between them feels like that which exists between longtime friends, and though a spark between her and Sebastian certainly exists, the authors poke fun at his typical YA love interest broodiness through Evelyn's early observations of him. As a result, it's difficult to label Evelyn's relationship with both young men a triangle, and Mr. Shanker and Ms. Zekas do an outstanding job of making sure the romance remains both secondary and light while not lacking in substance.
Overall, These Vicious Masks pleasantly surprises with its humor, but it's certainly not all laughs as Evelyn uncovers a world she never thought possible. We're given a solid resolution to Rose's kidnapping, but the journey to track her down opens a whole new set of doors and gives this series legs to stand on moving forward into the next book.
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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.