Review: These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks #1) by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas10:00
Series: These Vicious Masks #1
Author: Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
Published February 9th 2016 by Swoon Reads
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.
This was another book I read during the Easter holidays, and again, I adored it. Pride and Prejudice remains the only classical book I have read more than once, and I watch as many Austen adaptations as I can, so sticking her name into any synopsis/tag line is a sure fire way of getting me wanting to read any book.
In These Vicious Masks, Evelyn, our main character, is tired of going to society balls, and wants more in life than just to be married off and expected to sit inside like a dutiful little wife. Her and her sister, Rose, are interested in medicine, and are known around there village for being particularly gifted in treating the sick. To Evelyn, her biggest wish would be to learn medicine properly, and do something with her life. After Rose goes missing, Evelyn's world is suddenly thrown into chaos, and she has to join forces with her old friend Mr Kent, and the new acquaintance Mr Braddock. As she journeys to London in search of her sister, she realises that Mr Braddock might just be right, and she may actually have special powers which could mean everything in discovering Rose.
Sometimes when a book teases its connection with Austen, it's completely off the mark, but that wasn't the case here. When I was reading These Vicious Masks, I could imagine Lizzie Bennet and Mr Darcy walking past Evelyn in London, or Emma Woodhouse playing matchmaker. The regency era was the perfect setting for this book. Again, the X-Men part of the synopsis was also very true too, with the different types of powers the characters had being very reminiscent of those in the comic series. If you can't tell, it made me really happy to know that the synopsis hit the mark, and wasn't a let down.
The characters, especially Evelyn and Mr Braddock, may just become favourites of mine. Each character was hiding something at one point or another, but it made it seem realistic. In the regency era, especially in the gentry and nobility, showing your emotions on your sleeve was not the way to go, and the language used in the book fit the period to a T. Evelyn was a strong character, sometimes a bit too headstrong, but her love and devotion to her sister took my breathe away - think of how much Lizzie cared for Jane in P&P, and how she would do anything for her sister.
From the beginning, I thought there was something about Mr Kent that I just didn't like, so I was glad to find how much more I preferred Sebastian throughout the book. Though they both had ulterior motives for wanting to help Evelyn find Rose, at least his weren't going to harm anyone - rather he wanted to help a close family friend recover from a debilitating illness. Sebastian was aloof for most of the book, but you could see that Evelyn was breaking through his barriers, and he was starting to come out of his shell.
On that note, I loved the romantic aspect of These Vicious Masks. I knew from the start that Sebastian would be a potential love interest for Evelyn, and as their acquaintance grew, and they began to really know each other, it only got more and more palpable. I only wish there was more romance, but that's what to expect from a regency era story - the feels come more from the hint of attraction, rather than a full blown love affair. With how it ended, I'm seriously hoping for much more romance between Sebastian and Evelyn in book 2, maybe even with some banns being read in the future ;)
If you love Jane Austen, or the regency era, and want a wonderful, full of feels romance, this is definitely a book for you! These Vicious Masks was a wonderful debut by Shanker and Zekas, and I'm looking forward to reading more from them in the future - both together, and on their own.