by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
To be published by Swoon Reads
on February 9, 2015
Source: eARC from publisher for review
Synopsis 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.
My take: First, a confession: I'm the weird person who, when I see the phrase "X-Men meets whatever," says no thanks. I'm not really crazy about superhero or superpower books. I guess I'd rather read about what people do with their regular human powers.
That said, I love historical romance and did enjoy this book. To me it read more like a paranormal historical, like the Great and Terrible Beauty series. Yes, the special powers were a very important part of the plot, but there was other stuff to balance it out, like balls and witty banter and sisterly loyalty.
Evelyn was a great character -- brave and sharp-tongued. Bored with the tedium of her life of social events and suitors, she finds more adventure than she bargains for when her sister Rose disappears. Defying her parents, Evelyn races to London to find Rose. The Victorian setting is fun and well-drawn.
What could have been a little better for me was the romance. I didn't mind that it was complicated -- kind of a love rectangle between Evelyn, two guys, and another woman -- but there wasn't much swoony-ness to be had. (Possibly because Evelyn was busy racing around London, getting herself into scrapes, and possibly because I didn't find either of the two guys to be 100% compelling.) The plot was brisk, but as said, mostly consisted of Evelyn running around London chasing down clues. The ending was ... unexpected. I didn't realize this was the first book in a series, and I think I probably would have preferred this as a standalone with a defined ending -- maybe with some companion books featuring crossover characters, like the Starboard series.
But all in all, this was a fun and engaging read. If you're a fan of historical fiction or of superpower books, give it a try and see what you think!