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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

ARC Review: These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

These Vicious Masks by Taurn Shanker & Kelly Zekas
Paperback ARC, 296 pages
Published by Swoon Reads
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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 pitched as "Jane Austen meets X-men" and frankly, I wish they never met. This book had such a strong beginning and I was really excited to be reading it. However, after about a fourth of the way through, I started getting confused by the X-Men elements and felt like they took away from the plot instead of adding to it. I pushed through until the end because I really liked the characters—especially Evelyn—but that sadly wasn't enough to save this book for me. There was definite potential in the plot, but the execution was all over the place. I started liking it again towards the last third of the book, but was ultimately disappointed with how everything wrapped up. It wasn't satisfying by any means, and if anything, it was just frustrating.

1) Evelyn. Oh, her and I would be best friends. She made me laugh and I found myself nodding along with her thoughts and feelings. Evelyn is the main reason that I kept reading all the way until the end of this book. I truly relate to and admire her character and personality.

2) This book reminded me so much of Pride and Prejudice, and I really loved that. You have a broody, mysterious guy, two sisters who love each other, and a mother who is doing everything she can to get them married off. 

1) There are two love interests but it wasn't clear who exactly Evelyn liked. It seemed that she liked them both (yes, in a romantic way) but there was no way of telling who she liked more, which was frustrating. She just kind of bounced back and forth between the two—and when one randomly annoyed her, she suddenly became closer with the other love interest.

2) I didn't like the X-Men aspects of this book. In my opinion, they didn't fit. Although these details are at the very core of the plot, it was all just not well done. The character's skills were not developed and simply emerged out of nowhere. There were no clear descriptions of how the powers worked or how they went magically unnoticed by some characters and not by others.

3) The actions scenes were really confusing, and even comical, at times. There would be an actual fight going on, and then there would be two characters standing off to the side, just having a conversation as if nothing was going on around them. How can I take the action scenes seriously this way?

4) The main plot of the book revolves around how Evelyn goes searching for her sister, Rose, who has been kidnapped. Throughout the book, there are traces of Rose here and there, and hints of her well-being, etc. But then, in the last pages of the book, Rose is killed with Evelyn right there. This wouldn't have bothered me as much if Evelyn and her crew weren't just dawdling around during the rescue mission! If they honestly had simply gotten their shit together, Rose would be alive and well. The way it read, it seemed like the authors wanted Rose to die, but didn't necessarily have a decent and well-thought-out way of handling it, so they just made it happen.

“ Why don’t—” He stopped abruptly and took a breath. “ Normally I’m good at being polite, but with you, I have to try very hard.”

“ Were you trying very hard the two times you’ve compared me to a prostitute today?”
I glanced at Robert, who looked at Rose, who looked back at Robert. Well, odd one out, then. Maybe he would propose if I disappeared.

"Oh look! Upholstery," I declared, feigning fascination with a side chair in the corner of the room.”
“ You are right about one thing, Mr. Kent. I don’t need a hero,”  I said in a firm, even voice. “ But I could never love a man who would not be my ally.”


  1. Awww I'm sad you didn't love this! But I definitely understand what you mean about the spoiler. I was like 'uh what the hell just happened... you're kidding right... we just found heeeer'. I love the twist about their powers though :)

    1. I think I'm the lone wolf in my feelings for this book. The spoiler really killed the book for me but I think this book was too close to X-Men (I'm a big X-Men fan) and just didn't mesh with the plot how I would have wanted it to.

  2. Aw, that is such a bummer! I have this one sitting on my shelf but I haven't been in a big rush to read it. :S I might do someday, just because it's there though. But man, that sounds annoying. I read the spoiler (naughty me muahaha), and that sounds frustrating! Great review, Britt! <3

    1. I really wanted to love it so I was really disappointed!! I'm really careful about buying books now because this happens to me a lot haha. And yes, the spoiler was extremely frustrating.

  3. Oh bummer! I thought the premise of this sounded really good, especially the X-men part of it. Sounds like the execution wasn't great though. Can you believe I've never read Pride and Prejudice OR seen a TV/movie adaptation either? I know... Am I even a female??

    1. It sounded really good to me! I'm sooo disappointed =(

      YOU HAVEN'T READ OR WATCHED PRIDE AND PREJUDICE?! xD Honestly, I know a lot of people who haven't and it's not everyone's cup of tea so don't worry haha.