Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... These Vicious Masks

Monday, February 1, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... These Vicious Masks

These Vicious Masks
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!

16 comments:

  1. This doesn't really sound like my kind of book anyway but I run for the hills when any book is described as "x meets Y" lol

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. Well, this one was "Jane Austen meets the X-Men." But yeah, usually those mash-up comps make me scratch my head.

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  2. I hate book comparisons but I always 'try' to ignore them.
    You had me at "brave and sharp-tongued" I like historical fictions and this sounds a like a great read (setting aside the complications of the romance, I guess). Great review, Jen! :)

    czai @ the Blacksheep Project

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    1. She was a good character - if she can just get her love life worked out!

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  3. I agree. I really liked Evelyn but the "romance" bugged me, mostly because I hate love triangles.

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    1. I know, right? I mean, this is a Swoon book and I just wanted more swoon and less triangle...

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  4. I'm not the biggest fan of this kind of books, but I was really curious to know about this... But the romance, oh boy, I don't know. I really can't stand any kind of love triangle, so I don't know if I'll be reading it.
    Thanks for letting me know, Jen!

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  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, even with the X-men blurb, it was a fun mash-up. I agree with the ending though and would loved for this to have been a standalone.

    Lovely review, Jen :)

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  6. What?! As if a love triangle isn't complicated enough. Gah. I've been dying to read this book, but since you mentioned a love whatever, I'm disappointed. Boo.

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  7. I post for the tour for this one tomorrow and am hoping to get it read within the next week. I like superheroes and historical settings (with all the witty banter), so I thought I'd like this one. I don't really care for love triangles or non-swoon-worthy romance. I'll have to see what I think.

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings

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  8. Hehe - two peas in a pod... I don't like the X meets Y formula either. And as for superpowers and whatnots, I'm reaching a point where I feel overstuffed, so to speak. Excellent review.

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  9. I was really over it when "X-Men meets ..." was all the rage a few years back. Now that it's not everywhere, I wanna give this one a try. Evelyn sounds like my type of girl, especially for her time period!

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  10. I like the Victorian setting chosen for the novel! I cannot see any kind of letting-downs :) Love triangle is not such a destiny to a romance there! It is worth reading!

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  11. I really like the looks of this book so I am so happy to know that you really managed to love this one! The setting sounds nice. It seems like the romance wasn't really working for you, but the rest sounds great. It's on my TBR now :D

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  12. I don't mind books about superpowers and I love historical fiction so I guess this book would be totally up my alley! And I love that the sisterly relationship was very important too!

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