Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: These Viscious Masks

These Vicious Masks #1
Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
Paranormal Young Adult
352 pages
Swoon Reads
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.

Rating: 4/5

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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.


  1. Nice premise, humour, it does seem to tick all the right boxes

  2. I love stories where women give their mind about restrictions and aren't afraid to do it. Though I totally know what you mean by wincing and being upset on their behalf when their smart mouths and reckless actions get them in trouble. Woooo! Yay for no true love triangle :) "making sure the romance remains both secondary and light while not lacking in substance" THIS IS MUSIC TO MY EAYS JENNY!!! I'm so happy you enjoyed it and thanks for putting this on my radar since it was never my intention to seek this book out until now :)

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imagination

  3. I saw another good review of this one a few days ago and with yours too, I confess that I'm more and more curious to try

  4. I'm really glad to hear that the triangle hinted that is not something to be truly bothersome in the first book at least, because I'm one of the eye-titchers for sure!

    Great review Jenny, every review I see for this one makes me more and more curious about it!

  5. This sounds like a fantastic story Jenny, I have no idea why it hasn't been on my radar up until now. I love the mix of Jane Austen and X-Men type vibe the authors have gone with, also I like how the potential romance doesn't take away Evelyn's main focus. Thank you for putting this book on my radar Jenny, it sounds like the sort of book I would definitely enjoy! :)

  6. Okay, I was really excited about this one and then I heard about the love triangle, but thank you for clarifying that situation. I feel much better about it now. I think I'll make it my next read.
    I love humor and you know just how much I adore banter. I like that the romance is secondary to the plot as well.
    Can't wait to read this one, Jenny! I hope I like it as much as you! :)
    Lovely review!

  7. I need to get a copy of this book for myself. I love the sound of it, especially after reading your review. Plus, it's set in Victorian England which I love and the Jane Austen vibe sounds like a lot of fun. Great review, Jenny! I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

  8. Amazing review! This one looks so great and good to know that there is so humor in it as well. :)

  9. Jenny. wasn't the banter between Evelyn and Mr. Kent fun - and the spark between her and Sebastian great?! I'm glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. Very fun start to a new series :)

  10. I'm so glad you reviewed this! I had this ordered for the store but I hadn't heard anything about it and hadn't read it so I wasn't sure if it was a good move or not. I just figured that cover (so gorgeous) had to be on the shelves. Plus it sounded good. But now I know I really want to read it! I love that it has some good humor cause it looks fairly dark.

  11. Jenny this sounds so good, and one I would enjoy on audio with the right narrator. I am off to see if it's available.

  12. I was quite surprised by this one. It was a good read, creative and different. I was a bit shocked by the turn of events at the end for sure.

  13. I was a bit worried about this one, Jenny. Although I do like the premise, it does sound a bit gimmicky. Since you liked it, I'm willing to give it a shot.

  14. Not my usual thing, but this sounds really good!

  15. *hile 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*

    Omg Jenny, I burst out laughing reading this. I'm happy I read your review because even though I want to read this one, it comes off as "standard YA." I'm happy to hear that there is no love triangle and that there is humor!

  16. LOL good thing you said so, my eye was already beginning to twitch at the mention of two boys ahaha! I only started paying attention to this one recently Jenny so of course I HAD to see how you made out with it :D I'm happy you enjoyed it so much, it certainly sounds like a book I would enjoy too! Thanks for the lovely review, as always ♥

  17. Thanks for clearing that up, Jenny. You know how much I abhor love triangles! Gah. Anyway, I like the sound of this one. The combination sounds pretty kick ass. I requested this from NG, but sadly, I haven't heard from them. Sigh.

    Great review!

  18. The blurb made me a little bit weary. Jane Austen meets X-¬Men? Not sure about it. Two heroes – definitely "the beginnings of a nervous eye tic”. I changed my mind after reading your review, Jenny. I love books with humor and it’s good to have a book there romance take a back sit for a change.

  19. Oh, yay for no love triangle! Even though I don't mind them that much to begin with xD Most books are better off without them in my opinion. Also, the synopsis compares this to a Jane Austen novel cross with X-Men. That alone hooked me. Your review only confirmed it all the more.