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These Vicious Masks #1

These Vicious Masks

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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.

320 pages, Paperback

First published February 9, 2016

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About the author

Tarun Shanker

7 books316 followers
Tarun Shanker is a mild-mannered assistant by day and a milder-mannered writer by night, currently living in Boston. His idea of paradise is a place where kung-fu movies are projected on clouds, soul music fills the air and chai flows freely from the fountains. He is the co-author of the These Vicious Masks trilogy with Kelly Zekas.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,046 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,534 reviews9,937 followers
November 5, 2017
I enjoyed this book a great deal. A lot of my friends here on goodreads didn't like it too much but I did =)

Evelyn and Rose are sisters and they supposedly have powers. They are told they have the powers of healing by a man named Sebastian Braddock. Mr. Braddock seems like a jerk when we first meet him but he has his reasons and it is a very good reason indeed. Mr. Braddock also has powers.

When Rose goes missing one night and leaves a sketchy note saying she's going to London to be a nurse/doctor, Evelyn heads out to find her sister. Their parents are jerks and I won't go into that.

But Evelyn is not alone. She is accompanied by a sort of love interest, Nickolas Kent and of course Mr. Braddock shows up.

They all end up finding out some revelations, some other people with powers, some not so nice things and a hopeful ending.

I enjoyed it and will have to get the next two books < -- Naturally!

Happy Reading!

Mel ♥
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews1,011 followers
February 26, 2016

Buddy-read with my best super-girl.

“No, the true face is wretchedly simple and empty. The absolute joy in life, in friendship, in love, is learning about a person, deciphering them, taking each and every mask off to find a new one, waiting to be explored and understood.”

I chose this leading quote for a reason: this books also consists of masks hiding its true meaning, or maybe blending with it, creating in the process something quite different from the initial goal. This book is like a marshmallow: light and airy but filled with a specific flavor. I won't write a detailed review, describing cons and pros, because the pleasure is in knowing the story in person, unraveling it mask by mask and deciding for yourself what it is that you see: truth or illusion?

Annotation of These Vicious Masks promises us a blend of Jane Austen and X-Men taking place in Victorian London. I do not usually trust such announcements before I read the book and make sure whether the claim is valid or just an advertising move. This book proved to be a 100% true about its claim. We can see the love authors express toward Jane Austen and X-men in every curve and line of the writing, but also the book does not turn into a fan fiction - no - it has its own unique, beautifully woven story.

The soul of this book is Evelyn - our MC. She tells us her story in a marvelous sarcastic way. I swear, I haven't laughed that much, because of the narrator's voice in a long time. Every page is literally filled with intelligent humor that perfectly blends into the background, making it whole undivided entity. For example, the book begins with the words:

“Rose,” I said, turning to my younger sister. “In your esteemed medical opinion, is it possible to die of ennui?”
“I . . . can’t recall a documented case.”
“What about exhaustion? Monotony?”
“That could lead to madness,” Rose offered.
“And drowning in a sea of suitors? After being pushed in by your mother?”
“It would have to be a lot of suitors.”

Not only this dialogue is funny, but it also shows us a glimpse into high society, and what if felt like for a girl with a lively temperament to live in that world. I admit, sometimes Evelyn acted a little bit off for a 19th century girl, because of her free spirit and total lack of demureness. But I am thankful to authors for creating her the way she is. Such an amazing heroine. And you know what? She reminded me of Lizzy Bennet from Pride and Prejudice - one of my favorite heroines ever! Fans of this amazing classics will find a lot of cute details in the story. And don't forget about brooding gentlemen with too much pride:
Ah, yes, just my type: a stiff, prideful lord-to-be with impeccable, cold deportment to prove his perfect breeding.

Good Lord. His appearance was nearly a caricature of the dark and brooding hero from every gothic novel. He stood very tall, even more so than my gawky frame, arrogance oozing from every inch of his broad-shouldered form. Alert, hooded eyes scrutinized me fiercely, as if trying to turn my blood cooler. His lips were drawn into a slight frown, presumably a permanent state, while the crease in his brow gave the absurd impression of perpetual deep thought. With a gloved hand he brushed away a strand of mussed, straight black hair to afford us a better view of his captivating face. I felt sure he knew exactly the effect this would have on most young women.

But of course our heroine is immune to his charms!

Let's sort the painful part at once: this book has a love-triangle and at the same time it doesn't. If you read the book and know whom Evelyn talks about in the quotes above, you know whose team I am, but, I'd say, so far the first part of the trilogy does not has a full-formed love-triangle and hopefully will not require one, though, a lot of people will disagree with me on that topic. I can't deny, though, that this story has two very dashing gentlemen, and it's hard to determine whom to give your heart in the end.

Now, I've almost forgotten myself in a dreamy haze filled with alluring gentlemen. Let's get back to the story. The mystery. It is very solid and the less you know about it, the better. Usually my Sherlock intuition never fails me, especially when an intriguing mystery presents itself, but in this case I just idly flew by without noticing the bread crumbs (I blame everything on boys!). I think Mr. Kent - one of the MCs - stole my Sherlock powers and used them for himself:

“How in heaven’s name did you do that?”
“Well, first you might notice the shop was called Mortimer’s, rather than Mortimer and Son’s, but the man wore a wedding ring and didn’t look portly enough to own a successful shop and be childless. So you might look for signs of a daughter and find the display case in the back holding two dolls dressed to fit the distinctive tastes of two little girls. They were English wax dolls from the craze of 1876, but one wore a hat that was fashionable in 1879, which might make you wonder why one was more neglected than the other. The answer to that is sitting in a vase containing lilies and cypress, which any flower girl worth her salt will tell you means innocence and mourning the dead. So mentioning Mr. Mortimer’s daughter would arouse his emotions for both the tragically deceased one and his precious living one.”

Not fair! It was my line, Mr. Kent!

A short list of adventures awaiting you: carriage pursuits, brothel visitations, bare-handed fight scenes, jumps from the buildings - and that all without counting an X-men part!

The writing style in this book is as superb as its other components. I enjoyed the language immensely, especially some of the epithets were so brilliantly selected, I couldn't contain my admiration with the beauty and precision of it:

Still, he simply ignored me and stormed up the steps, taut as a bent bow. I flew after him like an arrow.

Such a simple phrase, but the way it's build, sending a message straight to our hearts!

Overall, a highly recommended book. Historical fiction slowly makes its way in YA genre, and if you haven't read any historical YA yet, These Vicious Masks is a wonderful book to begin your journey with.

Profile Image for Katerina  Kondrenko.
498 reviews842 followers
December 31, 2020
10 out of 10

Ревью в моем блоге/This review on my blog
Living A Thousand Lives
(please use Chrome/Yandex browser or Android/IOS to see the page; otherwise, spoiler-tags I use to make my post compact may not work)

David Arnold and Michael Price – Victorian Opening
Zarema Aliyeva – Jealousy Tango
Gavin DeGraw – Everything will change

Genre: historical fantasy, YA
Stuff: superpowers,
Setting: Victorian London
WOW: writing style, humor, final
POV: 1st-person, female
Love-Geometry: next to nothing

“The true face is wretchedly simple and empty. The absolute joy in life, in friendship, in love, is learning about a person, deciphering them, taking each and every mask off to find a new one, waiting to be explored and understood.”

It was another buddy-read with my dear Nastassja (seems like I acquired the taste of our reading sessions and now I don't know how to read something alone, it's not even funny)).
“We do not remain the same each minute to the next. Every word you hear, every sight you see, every smell, every thought you have, every moment—it all changes you. We keep putting on mask after mask, layers over layers. That’s how one grows.”

You know that feeling when you read a book and you're able to foresee plot-twists and moves of characters and that's actually good because it's not predictability that helps you to look ahead, in fact you don't do it at all, you just wish for something, imagine how you would write next scene or what you would do with this or that, and then authors follow your lead. It's like you create a book with them along with reading the result. That happened to me with These Vicious Masks. But in the end Tarum and Kelly were writing only by themselves, 'cause the final really surprised me. That's what I call excellent writing: make a reader believe that he knows it all and then slap him in the face with the ending.

I noticed this book months ago and knew it would be pretty interesting read, but I didn't expect to love it so much. I mean, have you seen how it's written? Beautiful, witty, elegant. I adore the story to every word, syllable, letter, dot. And humor, guys, These Vicious Masks is hilarious: I was either smiling or laughing quite all the time. Okay, sometimes I was angry or shattered or even crying... Let's just say that the story is able to make you feel. Also I was charmed by the setting and atmosphere: by language, manners, places, vivid descriptions (not overwhelming ones but very accurate and laconic). To be honest, there wasn't a thing I disliked in this book, and I think that These Vicious Masks will be on my TOP-10the end of this year.

Okay, let's talk of the story itself, which is about Victorian X-men. You may think historical decorations and superpowers do not suit each other, but you would be wrong. It works! Not for a second, I thought that something is off. Now I don't know how to read a book about 19 century without people with extraordinary abilities. It seems so natural!

The story starts with our meet with the Wyndham family on their way to a ball. Evelyn, the older sister, our MC and a voice of the book, isn't thrilled about dancing and suitors, she leads a snarky dialogue with her younger sibling Rose and wonders of death from boredom. I liked her from the very first page. You have to be pretty talented to grip a reader's attention and make him love your character with a few passages.

Ev and her sister are used to nursing people in their provincial hometown Bramhurst, it's not a proper business for young misses but they don't care. And while Evelyn dreams about traveling the continent, Rosamund seriously wants to become a doctor, but of course, both of them may forget suchlike ideas, 'cause all their mother is dreaming about is wedding bells and ASAP. They go to the ball and have no idea that this evening will change their lives forever.

Soon we'll meet our two potential romantic-interests (yes, there's a love-triangle, but it's a subtle one and doesn't bother the plot) and a dark-horse of a hero: one of them is brooding and mysterious Mr. Sebastian Braddock (tall brunette with dark-green eyes), the second is playful and charming Mr. Nicholas Kent (with average height, light-brown eyes and serious aplomb), the third is enigmatic giant Mr. Cheval (he's huge and that's it) with questionable motives. The last one's eager to speak with Rose, he seems nice, but in a matter of several hours the younger daughter of Wyndham's would be gone. She would leave a false goodbye-letter, take the wrong clothes, and forget her medical supplies, but no one except Evelyn would consider it a strange thing. Even their parents would be sure that the daughter just ran away to nursing some Londoners. But Evelyn won't sit and wait, she'll be determined to save her young sister.

You have to know one more awesome thing about These Vicious Masks. There is no dull moment: if characters decide to do something, they do it on the next page: no water between your pages! Everything will be happening fast enough, so watch closely! And pay attention to details, would help to solve the main mystery of the book. Sometimes authors don't give you any clues and you have no chance to spend some time as a detective, but Shanker and Zekar aren't like that.

I won't lead you further into the plot, just not to spoil you even accidentally. Everything that is referring to superpowers has to be discovered by yourselves. So I would rather talk about the characters. And we will start with Miss Wyndham. She's already one of my favorite YA-heroines. Evelyn's narration is brilliant, thanks to her sense of humor.
Our cab set off down the crowded Victoria Street toward the heart of the city, trundling past drab buildings and gray street corners at an agonizingly slow speed rivaling that of a dying cow. To make the trip even more enjoyable, pungent city scents seeped through the hansom doors—strangely enough also reminding me of a dying cow.

By the by, have I mentioned this series reminds me of Secrets of the Eternal Rose and Evelyn is definitely has something common with Cassandra? Lack of instinct for self-preservation, for example. In real life, this is a very dangerous thing, but in books, it is a source of endless fun and adventures (creepy at times, enjoyable at others).

What I really liked in Ev is her focus on a goal. She wants to rescue her sister, everything else can wait. Men don't distract her. She always thinks about Rose first and only then allows herself a few moments for herself. Remember all these heroines who were trying to avenge their families, find something, kill someone, and so on? Once they met a pretty face and fine muscles they forgot everything else. Evelyn is different and I'm really proud of her.

Moreover, she's quite... humble. We don't know what she looks like! I mean it! She describes quite every person in the book (forgetting about Mr. Kent's hair, how dare she!) and says not a word about herself. All we know, she is tall (shares the same height as Nicholas), pretty (but no the prettiest girl on earth), and... Let's see her through other people's eyes.

Nicholas' opinion:
“Miss Wyndham, when I first met you in London, I thought you the most intelligent and the strongest girl I had ever had the pleasure of meeting. She would never moon after some mopey, dark boy. She would look for the man that challenged her, amused her, and made her sparkle and enjoy life.”

Sebastian's POV:
“I still think you’re angry, stubborn, and infuriatingly willful. But I’ve come to rather like it, especially when it’s directed at someone who isn’t me. You simply refuse to settle. You keep pushing forward to get what you want, no matter what gets in your way, no matter what hurts you. It’s most admirable.”

Laura's thoughts:
Evelyn Wyndham is here! This is truly, the most absolutely perfect and wonderful week.

Tuffin's vision:
Miss Wyndham feigned an illness, sneaked out of the house, and walked the London streets unaccompanied for most of the night. At the very least, I’d say she’s a better influence on Miss Kent than Lady Kent is.

Lady Kent's judgment:
“Miss Wyndham, I’ve seen girls like you and your sister for years—it never changes. You all think yourselves so clever, so pretty, and so entitled that you believe the rules of society don’t apply to you. That you’re free to do whatever you wish while the rest of us have to struggle and suffer and sacrifice to get what we want the right way! No one cares to ever look beyond appearances. Society prefers it to be simple. And you spend years reaping the benefits, and suddenly, when it no longer works for you, everyone must change then, is that right?”

I hope it will help you to make something of her.

Oh guys... now I see. I think it was done purposely. I mean the lack of features' description of Ev. I'll be back to this topic at the end of my review.

Let us go to the next character. It would be Mr. Kent aka Nicholas. I feel like there wasn't enough development of him. *le sigh* But he's indeed a sun in this book's skies (he and his step-sister, I'll introduce her to you later). Every time he opens his mouth, I laugh and hard. I would love to quote for you all his parts, but instead, I'll give you a little teaser:
“My, my, it’s a surprise to see Mr. Braddock here,” Mr. Kent said, a hint of acrimony lacing his voice.
“Yes, it is.”
He leaned in confidentially. “Perhaps he’s come to apologize. Or maybe that also needs to be done in his bedroom.”
I strained to keep a whisper. “You know very well why I was in his bedroom! He was injured, and I needed to check on him.”
“No one is going to make an exception for that where your reputation is concerned.”
“I had other concerns at the time.”
He put his hand on his chest. “I’m feeling quite injured myself. Perhaps we might—”
“Mr. Kent! This is not an appropriate place for that kind of talk!”
“Very well,” he said. “If you wish to speak about it somewhere much more inappropriate, just say the word.”

So, if Evelyn is Cass, then Nick is Falco, without a doubt. Though noble and thoroughbred. Despite the fact that he frequently was somewhere else, readers would feel that he is the main character. Maybe it's his behavior... he acts like he owns the book and decides the characters' fates. Very confident young man.

We know him mostly through Ev's eyes, but she met Nick only a few months ago (simple deduction: winter is coming, so the last season was a half of a year ago) and I'm sure there are many things about Mr. Kent those are masked. Evelyn sees him as a careless and funny eternal bachelor, a self-centered person, and a nice friend to spend her seasons with hiding from other suitors. But during the book, she would find out that not everything she decided about him is right.

He's not your typical hero, BTW. This man won't sacrifice his life for you without a second thought. At first, I was like, what a coward! And then I was like, hm... it has sense. Now I think he's not a coward, he's just a pragmatist. That makes more valuable his efforts to help Evelyn in the end. It's not in his nature and still, he does it.

Nick has a young sister, her names is Laura and she's 15. Oh my goooood, this girl is insufferable: silly, naive, even crazy a bit (a lot?). But at the same time, she's incredibly loyal and funny.
Laura shook her head, fresh tears streaming down her face. “Even Nick won’t try to convince Mama! I refuse to talk to him.”
I shook my head, trying to shut my trunk. Overloaded, it wouldn’t close. “Don’t do that—he’s your brother.”
“And I hate him. I hate everyone! I just want to run away from home . . . or set it on fire. Or set Miss Verinder’s house on fire! Oooh, we should do that, Evelyn!”

At the end of the book, there's a bonus in form of Laura's diary. Her thoughts saved me a river of tears (yes, the book has a tone of funny moments, but it's sad prose as well), I just couldn't cry after reading her charming fiddle-faddle.

GR limited review length so 5k characters of this one are now available only on my blog. Sorry(

These Vicious Masks (Эти порочные маски):
These Vicious Masks (Эти порочные маски) #1/3
These Ruthless Deeds (Эти безжалостные деяния) #2/3
These Vengeful Souls (Эти мстительные души) #3/3
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
261 reviews4,944 followers
June 5, 2017
100% Adorbs. It was absolutely hilarious, and so very very charming. Loved this book to pieces. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy.

Evelyn might be my favorite protagonist ever. Every thought is dripping with sarcasm and blatant honesty. I love how her mind works.. she kept me so very entertained.

And with Evelyn, we have the charming and wild Mr. Kent, and the brooding mystery, Mr. Braddock. They are on a wild adventure, trying to solve the mystery of Evelyn's missing sister... but the story becomes much more than just that. What made this book so much fun in my opinion is the constant banter between these characters. I can't tell you how many times I actually caught myself laughing out loud! You know

All that to say, this book is not without its hidden gems. I found myself marveling more than once at the profound beauty hidden in the pages...

“We do not remain the same each minute to the next. Every word you hear, every sight you see, every smell, every thought you have, every moment—it all changes you. We keep putting on mask after mask, layers over layers. That’s how one grows.”

The only reason I couldn't give this 5 stars is that the ending felt a bit abrupt and unsatisfying. I guess I was hoping a bit more of an epic conclusion.. even if there was a cliffhanger. I just felt a bit disappointed .. or maybe it was that I wasn't as into it as I was hoping to be with the last 20%.

That being said, do not let this deter you from reading this book. It is well worth the investment.

My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
Profile Image for Simona B.
898 reviews3,009 followers
February 10, 2017

"The greater good is all that matters."

Wait, where have I already heard it? Oh right, everywhere. Repeatedly. With various degrees of histrionics.

•And this is my first point: a little more attention to the villain's characterization would have improved the book to no end. The development and the employment of the deranged Dr Beck as main antagonist (and several other things truly: I'll get there) speak of sloppiness and of a hastily sketched character, and it does not convince me at all. It hardly helps that he's meant to be the tip of the iceberg and, as it is made clear from the beginning, he's only one member of a far larger organization. It's still not an excuse to reduce him to the stereotype of the mad doctor obsessed with the greater good even if it means hurting innocent individuals.

The last part of the book, let's say the last third, considerably weighed on my decision to lower my rating to three stars -until then it was an almost full four. I think that in her haste to pack the ending with more action, the author let slip a few errors too many.
First, Robert, the insignificant guy we see in the first chapter and who's smitten with the main character's sister, Rose. After disappearing for the whole central part of the plot, he suddenly (and pathetically) appears again without a shred of a good reason and just does things, all of them resolving in him getting in the other characters' way. His presence is completely unjustified and random, and he is useless in his good moments and utterly annoying in the bad ones -his hysterics do not help.
Pretty much the same can be said for Miss Gray. She is supposed to be an important secondary character, and it is more than hinted that her role in the next book will be even more significant, yet she feels like no more than an extra, totally forgettable, lame and absolutely inadequate to keep up with the supposedly key role she should play. Other characters, for instance Camille, Mr Hale and Mr Cheval, seem to suffer from the same symptoms: their roles in the story come off as improvised or at best just carelessly drafted.
Considering that the characters are not that many, shortcomings like these were very, very noticeable and bothersome. They showed that while the story was really enjoyable, it was not refined at all, or just lazily so, and the details were left to themselves. As I belong to that class of fools who'd rather not do something than do it inadequately, I particularly despise this (expanded) oversight.

•On the other hand, I very much enjoyed the interactions between the three main characters, or main character and sidekicks, also known as Evelyn, Mr Braddock and Mr Kent. Many of their conversations are priceless. And, love triangle. These three were truly fun to have around though, and Evelyn, despite being slightly too hot-headed and impulsive for my personal taste, is a relatable and validly characterized heroine.

Special powers: I will never get tired of this. And when we're talking about many kinds of special powers, one different from the other, I'm already sold, no need for anybody to trouble themselves. In this regard, I particularly liked the ending and its atmosphere, in a sense: how it hinted at a bright future but also conveyed Evelyn's suffering for what had just happened and her determination as to what to do next. It was bittersweet and full of promises, just as I like them.

➽ All in all, These Vicious Masks is a very promising first instalment, but I hope we will see considerable improvements in the next ones: some flaws that I could turn a blind eye on now would not have been so easily excusable in a second or third book in a series. In spite of this, if, like me, you can't resist a Victorian setting, special powers and witty main characters, then this is a book I fully recommend.
Profile Image for Heidi Heilig.
Author 9 books1,324 followers
October 25, 2015

I feel I can't rightly review this book without spoiling things but I am still thinking about that ending.
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,663 reviews1,231 followers
January 5, 2016
An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts are my own. This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.

This was JUST what I was in the mood for when I read it. (And honestly, still is what I'm in the mood for.) Special abilities. Banter. Snark. A heroine who just. Will. Not. Give. Up. Two handsome fellas, both vying for her attention. Fancy balls. Chase scenes. Missing sisters. Reputations damaged beyond repair.

It's hard to believe there was ever a time when I thought I didn't really like historical fiction. Sure, I've read some that I've loved -- and some, not so much -- but it's never been my go-to genre. Until lately, that is. I've read three or four in the past month alone, and I am hooked. I think it's the propriety and decorum that I'm drawn to -- and the fact that most heroines attempt to flout those rules, just as Evelyn does in These Vicious Masks.

Whereas some historical fiction novels are more thickly rooted in all of those stuffy old rules of society, the characters in this story are more likely to throw all manner of propriety out the window. It doesn't help that they all have special abilities that it's already a hindrance for them to hide. So, really, this was bound to happen. And included in those powers is the ability to heal, the ability to sway one's thoughts, and the ability to discern the truth. Nifty, right?

I loved all of the characters in These Vicious Masks...except maybe the villains. They're all hiding something. They're all protecting someone. And because of the nefarious lengths some will go to -- all in the name of science -- their world is about to be turned completely upside down.

In other words, this book was FABULOUS. Fun. Exhilarating. And the type of book I just love to read cover to cover, with no interruptions. There's no cliffhanger, not really, but this is most definitely only the first book in what will be a very fun and exciting trilogy.

GIF it to me straight:
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,736 reviews711 followers
January 8, 2016
4.5 stars

I will read anything that's pitched as "Jane Austen meets the X-Men". Thankfully, it lived up to its tag line.

I absolutely adored Evelyn. She's snarky as hell and her inner monologue was like being in my head. I loved how she refused to be left in the dark about the situation and repeatedly inserted herself right in the middle of things. There are two boys in this book and I was amused by both of them.

The plot was engaging and entertaining. I had that delicious problem of wanting to hurry through it and wanting to savor it at the same time. From the first page, I was captivated by Evelyn's fight between acting proper in London society or hunting for her sister.

The only reason it's not 5 stars is because of a few things I didn't care for at the end. Perhaps some of them were to keep the door open for a sequel? Regardless of the why, I know I'll be on the lookout for future works by Tarun and Kelly.

**Huge thanks to Swoon Reads for sending me the arc**
Profile Image for Kells Next Read .
533 reviews537 followers
February 24, 2016
My Ratings 3:5

This was a fast paced, lighthearted fun read. I liked it but it wasn't an over the top read for me. At times I found it to be a bit rushed and the OTP I'm backing seems not to be likely. Set in an England setting the plot line consist of our heroine discovery that her sister has powers and
We are also introduce to minor characters and we see gradually when and what there "powers" are and how it affects those around them.

For the most part I liked our lead Evelyn and her witty nature. I also liked her witty banter with her possible love interests, Mr Kent and Sebastian ( yes people there's a triangle ; / ) . The other characters where interesting and entertaining enough to make the read a bearable one. It should be noted that I'm currently reading a trilogy that I find to be freaking Awesome so it could be a reason why I didn't like this read as much as I thought I would.

Sidetone: I thought it necessary to mention that it did not go unnoticed, of the underlying message the the authors were trying to convey. That we all, in one form or the other wear different masks. It only varies depending on the people that we are interacting with. Whether it be a defense mechanism or basic human nature, the reality is, Masks are a constant in our daily lives.

I would definitely recommend that you give this book a read as it's premise and the characters are worth getting to know.
Profile Image for Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*.
2,473 reviews1,079 followers
June 12, 2017
"The absolute joy in life, in friendship, in love, is learning about a person, deciphering them, taking each and every mask off to find a new one, waiting to be explored and understood.”

Evelyn is not the typical Londoner consumed with society balls and high-rising affairs of the heart and social status - instead she tries to shy away from societal obligation, much to the annoyance of her determined mother. After leaving a particularly strange ball that opens the story, she finds out that her sister has disappeared - and is reputed to have healing powers. Convinced she was kidnapped instead of running off, she enlists in the help of some unconventional and surprising allies. What follows is a fun ride filled with adventure and humor, but also the reader has in store for them a bittersweet and surprising ending.

It's kind of hard not to fall head-over-heels with the writing style. Shanker writes easily and effortlessly it seems, with plenty of convincing humor that left me grinning as much as it did my gnawing my bottom lip in suspense. The plot is paced perfectly to coincide with the story's events, and while it does stay humorous through most of the story, it doesn't shy away from uncovering the underside of London's seedy societal woes.

Scheming and backstabbing women, money-motivated parents, shunning matrons? Check.

Magical powers, psychics, secret societies, and mad scientists? Check.

I don't think the potential, dangling love triangle was needed. It's not a heavy one and the main heroine is consumed with finding her sister, not tying the knot, so romance isn't actually on the horizon with anyone - it just seems like the possibility of romance between two exists, but this is solved by the end of the book anyway so it's a non-issue.

There isn't an actual cliffhanger but there are some dangling ends, especially with one of the main characters she pairs up with; since this is to be a series, that's acceptable. It's not an over-the-edge, almost fall off ending. I will say the book feels slightly incomplete at the end, though.

It's fun, it's adventurous, there's actual detecting involved with the investigation, I laughed a few times, the story players are quirky and enjoyable, and the story's depth held my interest the entire ride. Recommended for fans of historical fiction especially, but any should enjoy it since it's a blend of leading heroine meets hidden X-men.

Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews842 followers
December 23, 2015
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (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.

What I Liked:

I should probably give this book a lower rating but I can't. I enjoyed some aspects so much! Other aspects really REALLY annoyed me. Not nearly as polarizing as Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman - the only thing I really couldn't stand about that book was the ending (everything else was lovely!). But there were some big things that didn't sit well with me - it could just be me though!

Evelyn has always been bored when it comes to society and balls and operas and social gatherings. She's made her debut so she's supposed to be on the hunt for her husband. Unfortunately, her younger sister mysteriously disappears, and it's up to Evelyn to find her. She heads to London with her friend Mr. Kent, but stumbles upon a situation must larger than her or Rose. To save Rose, Evelyn must accept Mr. Braddock's help, as well as accept some frightening things about the world - and herself.

I absolutely adore Evelyn. She's hilarious and so snarky/sassy - her sarcasm and wit is EXACTLY like my sense of humor/camaraderie, so we'd probably get along well (I don't *think* we'd hate each other?). Evelyn is a bit angry, confrontational, bold, and outspoken. She's somewhat impulsive, and she's absolutely determined to find her sister when Rose disappears. Evelyn's qualities make her a very likable heroine, one that I enjoyed following.

The story is set in nineteenth-century England, which I'm very familiar with and really love (I read waaaay too many adult historical romance novels!). The authors did an excellent job of constructing the world and getting the time period correct, as well as authentically creating the setting and dialogue and whatnot. And then there is the paranormal aspect, which I also thought was well-written.

There are people with extraordinary abilities, like superhuman strength, healing, being able to create doors out of nowhere and travel through them, see the future. Several key players in the story have abilities, which Evelyn slowly discovers. At first she's skeptical, but then she sees the abilities at work with her own eyes.

There are two male protagonists - unfortunately. Sebastian (Mr. Braddock) is our lovely brooding hero who helps Evelyn enter and understand the hidden paranormal world. Sebastian is such an intriguing and captivating character, and I really liked interactions and scenes with him involved.

Nicholas (Mr. Kent), on the other hand, just wasn't as interesting. He's Evelyn's friend, but I had a weird feeling about him from the start. I think he's an okay guy in general, and he's loyal to Evelyn, but there is something off about him.

There is romance in this book, but not nearly enough to really discuss. You could say that things have transpired between Mr. Braddock and Evelyn, but not enough to say that they have some earth-shattering love or something. I adored the interactions between Evelyn and Sebastian - they had a lot of cute banter and temperamental "fights" and general hilarious encounters.

I think I was a bit let down by the end of this book! This book could benefit from a sequel (I really really hope there will be a sequel). A lot happened all at once, and the ending felt open. Hopefully there will be more to follow!

What I Did Not Like:

For a book published by an imprint called "Swoon Reads", there was a distinct lack of actual swoon. That would be my first complaint. Where the heck are all the feels and swoony scenes? And kissing scenes too? Hmph.

Next complaint - you could say that there is potential for a love triangle to appear. Sebastian has feelings for Evelyn. I think Nicholas always had feelings for Evelyn. Evelyn... doesn't love Nicholas and has feelings for Sebastian, but the ending of this book isn't good enough for me, in terms of the romance, to make me think that there will be NO love triangle ever. Like it really wasn't a love triangle in this book, but I could see the authors throwing one in there just for the heck of it, in future books. If there will be anything to follow this one.

On that note, my third complaint. What the heck was up with that ending?! It wasn't necessary cruel, but it wasn't "nice" either. Hello? Swoon Reads? There was little swoon and no HEA. Not to mention the romance could have been a little more *there*. Also kissing. There was a death in the ending, and that didn't really bother me. The lack of resolution in terms of the romance? Definitely bothered me.

So... sequel? I'm pretty confident that there'll be one, but it would help to know for sure. It probably wouldn't make my rating go up to know that there will be one (if there will be one), but it would certainly make me feel better. Or worse, if the authors are planning to develop a love triangle. In that case, no thank you. End everything where it is.

Would I Recommend It:

Okay look. I think I liked this book. It was good! But those things mentioned above are pretty big and pretty annoying to me, so the rating went down and so did my chances of recommending this book. Perhaps read it at once book two publishes (I'm almost 100% sure there will be a sequel. Gut feeling.). This book is a feel-good cute one but like, up until a point.


3 stars. I'll definitely read the next book (I'm going off the assumption that there WILL be a second book), but I'm slightly disappointed by this book. It's so sad because of all of Macmillan's spring publishing, this was the one I was looking forward to the most! And it was... okay. Somewhat.
Profile Image for Fafa's Book Corner.
513 reviews305 followers
March 27, 2016
Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner !

Beware spoilers ahead!

This book was recommended to me by my dear GR friends Lola and Katerina ! Click on their names to read their reviews!

I had heard about this book through Netgalley. It sounded interesting so I requested it. I was denied. When I went to re-read the synopsis I was immediately put off by the X-Men meets Jane Austen tag line. I have never been a fan of Jane Austen. I watched Pride and Prejudice but found Elizabeth to be rude. The way Keira Knightley presented Elizabeth might have been what ticked me off. Then Katerina and Lola recommended me this book. It has never happened where two of my friends recommend the same book. I became curious and decided to give it a shot. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book!

The book begins with Evelyn and her family attending a party. Evelyn does not understand the point of always going to the same parties and balls, with the same people. She feels that she's just wasting her time and would much rather travel the world. Her younger sister Rose is the only one that understands her views.

They hit a bit of a detour. The people who are in front of them are trying to get their carriage upright. Evelyn's family offer their help but the people refuse. They take off but not before Evelyn sees a large man put their carriage upright. The man is clearly very strong.

When they reach the party Evelyn tries her best to make a run for it. But her mother manages to keep her next to her. When the host arrives he introduces his nephew Mr. Braddock. It seems that Evelyn's mother intends for her to marry Mr. Braddock. They introduce themselves. Mr. Braddock seems very interested in Rose and he starts to talk to her but then dashes off with some weird excuse. Evelyn is very annoyed at this. It was really rude that he just ran off like that.

Evelyn uses this as her excuse to go and hide. So that she can avoid her mother's friends and the dancing. While enjoying some cake her friend Mr. Kent arrives. They talk for a bit and then they dance. After they're done dancing they go on to eat some more cake and talk to their friend Robert. Evelyn has had too many drinks and accidentally says that Rose will most likely marry Robert.

Embarrassed Evelyn runs off to find Rose. After some searching she finds Rose with the large man that lifted the carriage and Mr. Braddock. It seems that they were in some sort of an argument and Evelyn interrupted it. Mr. Braddock gets the man to leave and tries to talk to Rose. Evelyn sensing something off about Rose pushes her out and tells Mr. Braddock that Rose isn't available for a conversation. They argue and then Evelyn goes home.

Rose and Evelyn decide to talk about all that has happened. Rose explains that the large man has a sister that is very sick in London and needs Rose's assistance. Evelyn then reveals to Rose about what she told Robert. Rose says that she would love to travel the world and become a doctor. Evelyn tells Rose that they can try to convince their mother together in the morning. They hug each other and go to bed.

That night Evelyn has an odd nightmare. She seems to be in Egypt and is conversing with her governess Miss Grey. For some reason Evelyn can't really hear Miss Grey's voice too well and nor can she respond. Miss Grey informs her that someone is after Rose.

I was surprised that I enjoyed this book! I honestly did not expect to enjoy it this much. I liked the writing style and the banter between the characters. This book was pretty fast paced which was nice. And I absolutely loved the sibling relationships! The plot was well done. And the powers were really cool!

I absolutely adored Evelyn! It was lovely to read about her character development through this book. And about her relationship with the other characters. I really felt for her when she was frantically looking for Rose. Her reaction to powers existing was realistic. Mr. Kent was kind of annoying at first but he started to grow on me once I started to understand things from his point of view. Mr. Kent's love for his sister Laura was adorable! I loved how much he cared about her and looked out for her. I felt really bad for him considering his family situation. Mr. Braddock was nice and definitely anti-social. I do feel for him as well as he's been through a lot. Mr. Braddock's power is particularly interesting. I've never read about someone who has the same power. Laura was a doll and I enjoyed reading about her friendship with Evelyn! Miss Grey was interesting. And while Rose didn't come in that much she was nice.

It was really cool that the authors included a masks theme in this book. Everyone behaves differently with some people. We usually have different masks on depending on who we're interacting with. And it is interesting once we get to see different layers about a person. I felt that this was Incorporated well. I was very surprised at the ending. I didn't expect the authors to take that route. No doubt it'll be interesting to read about all the characters stories in the sequel. This just goes to show that the authors are not afraid of killing off characters.

I only had a few problems. I was really surprised with the love triangle. I didn't see the point of it but it didn't bother me once I started reading. I do hope it gets resolved soon so that it doesn't drag out. I felt that Evelyn's parents reluctance to look for Rose was done for plot's sake. So that Evelyn would have no choice but to accept Mr. Kent's help. Also the villain wasn't really anything new. The same villains have been written before. With the same motive.

Overall this was a really great book! I recommend it to fans of X-Men and Jane Austen and anyone looking for a new and interesting fantasy series.
Profile Image for Sophie.
1,235 reviews446 followers
April 5, 2016
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.
Profile Image for booknuts_.
756 reviews1,189 followers
March 7, 2016
review found at: www.awesomebooknut.com

I’ve been on a good run! I’ve read some amazing books recently! WHOOT!

I LOVE this time period, the gowns, the balls, the society, the rules, it just makes for a fantastic setting in any book!

This story follows Evelyn and her sister Rose. Rose is a nurse and in society that’s a bit of a ” no no” especially when their mother is trying to get them married off. Evelyn detests society and it’s rules and takes every opportunity to let people know that. Rose on the other hand is the “gentler” of the two. However she LOVES to practice nursing and word gets around how good she is at it.

At a ball Evelyn are introduced to a dark and brooding Sebastian Braddock. He then tells Evelyn of these powers that both she and her sister Rose have. Well boy does Evelyn think the worst of Braddock along with how he is nuts!

However, when Rose goes missing Evelyn finds that she must find her, without her parents help and on her own. That’s when the ever lovely Mr. Kent comes riding in to say he will do whatever it takes to help Evelyn find her sister. But then so did Sebastian Braddock. hmmm

Though the adventures of trying to find Rose we find out more about Sebastian Braddock and some interesting things about Kent that makes you wonder who is the good guy.

I loved the twist and turns of the story I loved the characters as well as the setting (I think I mentioned that already), I loved the paranormal side to it, and I loved the romance. It was just an overall fun fun fun story! I cannot wait for book two! GAH! I thought it was a standalone…nope….grrrrr…

Sexual Content: mild (talk of a whore house-nothing raunchy)
Language: mild
Violence: mild/moderate
Drugs/Alcohol: mild (social drinking)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jill.
542 reviews801 followers
July 27, 2017
Oh my lorrrrrd the main character in this book drove me insane... absolutely insane... like I couldn't deal with how out of the loop she was

The ending of this book has me a bittt intrigued about the next book but I seriously don't know if it's worth being in Evelyn's head again...

Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,752 followers
Want to read
February 10, 2016
To be honest, I wasn't terribly interested in this one--I saw the masks and automatically categorized it as Victorian and/or Steampunk (not my thing)--BUT . . . Then I saw this :

We love Jane Austen, and we also love books that are inspired by Jane Austen. These three books are each completely different, but amazing in their own ways. If you're looking for a sweet contemporary romance check out First and Then, a Jane Austen meets X-Men mashup look at These Vicious Masks, and for a historical fiction with a quick and witty heroine get ready for Love, Lies & Spies, out in April.

. . . a Jane Austen meets X-Men mashup look at These Vicious Masks.

YES, please!

Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,738 reviews1,306 followers
August 29, 2016
This was a YA historical/fantasy story, about a girl trying to find her kidnapped sister.

Evelyn was an okay character, and it was obvious how much she cared for her sister. I liked the way that she saw clues where other people didn’t, and I liked her she wasn’t afraid to stand up and say so as well.

The storyline in this was about Evelyn’s sister Rose being kidnapped by a man believing her to have special healing powers, and Evelyn setting out to try and find rescue her. We also got the fantasy angle of certain people having some interesting supernatural powers, and a bit of a love triangle popping up as well (although there wasn’t that much romance in the book).

The ending to this was a bit sad, and I wasn’t all that impressed with the end to the romance storyline either.

6 out of 10
Profile Image for Christina.
262 reviews228 followers
May 19, 2016
3.5 Stars!

"We do not remain the same each minute to the next. Every word you hear, every sight you see, every smell, every thought you have, every moment -- it all changes you. We keep putting on mask after mask, layers over layers. That's how one grows."

This is a historical fiction YA that takes place in England in 1882. Evelyn and Rose Wyndham are bored with society and what it has to offer. They'd much rather travel the world, nursing ailing patients along the way. Rose in particular has developed quite a reputation for nursing. Their mother wants nothing more than for them to find and marry the most eligible bachelors of the season.

Then suddenly after a ball one night, Rose is gone the following morning. There is a note left behind, saying that she left for London to provide nursing care to a new acquaintance's sister... but something about it rings false and Evelyn is doubtful that she wrote it without being coerced into doing so and she tries to convince her parents that Rose has been kidnapped and they must go after her immediately.

Their parents think Evelyn is being dramatic. They decide to tell anyone who asks after Rose that she is in London visiting relatives and they will simply await her next letter. Unsatisfied with this and convinced Rose is in danger, Evelyn decides to leave for London at once on her own to find Rose. She is aided along the way by Nicholas Kent, a flirtatious friend and she is invited to stay with his family under the pretense of visiting with his younger sister Laura.

Once in London, she seems to be followed by the reclusive Sebastian Braddock, who is attempting to find the sisters because he thinks that their talent in nursing is actually due to special healing powers. He and Evelyn strike up a bargain so that Sebastian will help in the search for Rose. It turns out though, that Sebastian is right about some people having extraordinary powers...which means that the danger to Rose may be worse than she thought.

I've seen great reviews for this book, and I'm pretty sure that, for me, it was a case of it being me and not the book. It could be that I'm just impatient with my library book pile ( only 1 more to go! ) and want to just jump into my ACoTaR re-read...usually I love historical fiction and I love that more and more YA lately have had historical settings, but I just couldn't get immersed in this story. It took me 5 days to read this...and for 2 of those days I only read a total of 30 pages :( I just wasn't very motivated to pick it up.

I thought that Evelyn started out as a very strong character, but by about halfway through she was frustrating me a bit. While she was, for the most part, very focused on the search for her sister, I thought she was also too concerned with society's expectations and her reputation. She was still attending plays and dinner parties while Rose was missing and in danger, though she did voice frustration about it...but still. There is a kind of love triangle, but it doesn't turn into a huge thing in this book, it just adds background to the story and it's characters.

I did really like the concept of the special powers in a historical setting, versus in a post-apocalyptic/dystopian type setting. The ending was a bit darker than I expected it to be, so I'd like to see where the authors go with the next book.
Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,187 reviews1,338 followers
March 11, 2021
Full Review on The Candid Cover

These Vicious Masks took me by surprise in the most amazing way! It is a historical fantasy, and the characters have special powers. The main character is also the perfect heroine, which made this book even more enjoyable. A Victorian setting adds a wonderful backdrop to this beautifully written novel.

The old motto, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” is definitely fitting for These Vicious Masks. While the cover is quite gorgeous, it certainly doesn’t give off the vibe that it contains magic or powers of any kind. The fantasy elements in this book are a wonderful surprise and add a mind-blowing quality to the story. If you enjoy fantasy, this book will absolutely take you on an amazing journey!

As if the element of powers wasn’t incredible already, the main character in These Vicious Masks, Evelyn, is extremely likeable. Evelyn has three perfect traits in a YA heroine: she is smart, strong, and sassy. After her sister is kidnapped, Evelyn sets out to find her, despite her parents’ contradictions. That’s pretty gutsy, if you ask me. Also, Evelyn is the queen of sarcasm and sass. I love a good amount of sass in a book, and These Vicious Masks definitely left me satisfied.

These Vicious Masks is set in Victorian London, which is a very interesting and unique time period. The descriptions of the fashion and just society in general are so beautifully written and paint a very vivid picture for the reader. Being whisked away to a Victorian ball and imagining oneself in the posh and elegant setting definitely provides the ultimate reader’s escape.

These Vicious Masks is a historical fantasy with powers and a likeable and sarcastic main character. The Victorian setting adds to the aura of the story and makes it very delightful to read. If you are a fan of books like Shatter Me, you will definitely enjoy These Vicious Masks, as both books have characters with powers.

GIVEAWAY (on the blog):

You can win one (1) finished physical copy of These Vicious Masks. Open to US and Canada.
Profile Image for Glory.
350 reviews50 followers
February 13, 2016

Представьте, что вы можете загадать желание, и тут же какой-нибудь талантливый автор воплотит на бумаге придуманный вами сюжет. Точнее, не просто сюжет, а некое необычное сочетание... Что бы это было? Хотите отправить Гамлета в открытый космос? Или переместить эльфов и троллей на Перл-Харбор? Или оставить Мета Деймона на необитаемом острове, а Тома Хэнкса с волейбольным мячом бросить на несколько лет на Марсе? Ну, что?
Я вот давно уже грезила супергероями в Викторианской Англии. Честное слово, не вру. И вот как-то, мазнув взглядом по обложке "These Vicious Masks" и не зацепившись ни за картинку, ни за название, я все же решила проглядеть аннотацию и очень так красочно зависла.

Jane Austen meets X-Men in this gripping and adventure-filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

Да, да, еще одна замануха, но какова вероятность? Надо чаще отправлять свои мысли в пространство.
Вы можете сказать, что такое уже было, что, вообще-то, такого полно, но все не то, господа. Везде примешана магия, демоны, вампиры, еще какая-нибудь фигня. А чтоб вот просто суперспособности и 19 век - неа. По крайней мере, я не встречала.
И конечно, как человек, который так жаждал увидеть воплощение данной темы, я уже все себе представила. И атмосферу, и героев, и злодеев... И бралась за роман с определенными, не просто завышенными, а весьма конкретными ожиданиями. Они не оправдались. Совсем. История получилась... другая, как ни странно)) Не лучше, не хуже, просто авторы, видимо, уловили мой посыл не целиком xDDD
Я не в обиде. Потому что это все равно было круто.

Англия, 1882. Пропавшая девушка, разыскивающая ее сестра, люди со сверхспособностями, сумасшедший ученый и один, но зато какой поцелуй.

Сначала я хотела выделить плюсы и минусы, но когда начала анализировать, поняла, что они сливаются. И то, что мне не понравилось, в то же время является самым крутым в этой истории.

1. Героиня. Эвелин. Юная, саркастичная, смелая (даже безбашенная), импульсивная, взрывная, преданная, искренняя. Из тех, наблюдая за которыми, думаешь: "Ну куда ты лезешь, дура?!", и тут же приговариваешь: "Давай, давай, я в тебя верю". Да, она ринулась на поиски пропавшей сестры, наплевав на все приличия. Да, она поставила репутацию семьи под удар, но как бы поступили вы, когда жизнь самого дорогого человека в опасности? Да, она лезла в самое пекло, несмотря на то, что имела под рукой помощников мужеского пола, которые пытались ее оградить, защитить, оставить дома и сами во всем разобраться. Но она им не доверяла и, как выяснилось, не так уж и напрасно. Ведь все, абсолютно все носили те самые маски из названия. А кто-то и по несколько штук. Не успеваешь содрать одну - под ней другая. И уверена, даже сейчас не все персонажи раскрыли свое истинное лицо. Да и не у всех оно имеется.

Из самого начала))
“Evelyn, see there. The eldest from the Ralstons. I hear they have a lovely collection of stained-glass windows.”
“Set a date. I shall marry him immediately.”
“Not this childish behavior again. You will give these men more than a second’s thought or deeply regret this attitude in a few years’ time.”
“Yes, when I’m crying next to, God forbid, a plain window”.

2. Герои. Мистер Кент и мистер Брэддок. Минус: треугольник. Плюс: треугольник. Потому что он необычный, классный и даже как бы и не треугольник))) Все знают, как я их ненавижу, а тут прониклась. Парни получились такими разными и яркими, что предпочесть кого-то одного просто невозможно. Хотя нет, вру, я свой выбор сделала, хотя, боюсь, Эвелин и авторы со мной не согласятся.
Ник Кент - остроумный, язвительный, местами легкомысленный, но при этом самый взрослый из всех. Да, он иногда идет на поводу общества и мачехи, но за спинами чопорных матрон поступает так, как считает нужным. То есть думает головой и умудряется творить непотребства, сохраняя репутацию. Та же Эвелин подобными глупостями не страдает.
Себастьян - мрачный, депрессивный. Весь в себе и в чувстве вины. Но рядом с героиней он оживает, начинает шутить и подкалывать. Нет, вторым Ником не становится, но и на гота уже не похож. Вообще, со всем этим "ах, моя способность - зло" Себ дико напоминает Роуг из "Людей-Х". Пока он предпочитает бежать от проблем, думая, что тем самым кого-то спасает. Но, кажется, скоро его излечат от этой привычки.
В принципе, авторы не наводят тень на плетень, Эвелин и Ник слишком похожи, он ей скорее друг, а вот Себ - явно будущая великая любовь. Будущая, потому что пока с романтикой туговато. Есть несколько мощных искристых сцен, но в остальном - не до того было ребятам.
А так я согласна с Ником:
Miss Wyndham, when I first met you in London, I thought you the most intelligent and the strongest girl I had ever had the pleasure of meeting. She would never moon after some mopey, dark boy. She would look for the man that challenged her, amused her, and made her sparkle and enjoy life.

И хотела бы видеть его если не с Эвелин, то хотя бы просто счастливым.

3. Концовка. Сначала я ее ненавидела. Ну, знаете, тот неловкий момент, когда читаешь взахлеб, а в конце только одна мысль: WTF???
А потом поняла, что меня не просто все устраивает - я довольна, как бы жестоко это ни звучало. Потому что каждый из героев оказался там, где нужно для начала их героического пути. Ведь с последней строчкой этого романа все действительно только начинается.

Имхо, трилогия ожидается классная. Жду продолжения с нетерпением.

Единственное, чего я не могу понять и переварить: поведение родителей Эвелин и Розы. Дочь якобы сбежала (хотя старшая вас уверяет, что ее похитили). Ну, допустим, боитесь вы за репутацию. Боитесь, что если поедете в Лондон, то все поймут, что вы отправились на поиски, и слухов не оберешься. Но хоть что-то сделать можно! Потихоньку, помаленьку, что-то поузнавать, кого-то послать... Они же уселись на попы и типа "сама вернется".
Авторы сильно хотели отправить на поиски Эвелин, да, но можно было как-то поподробнее описать мотивацию старшего поколения. О них, конечно, вообще мало сказано, но судя по диалогам и тому, что девочки выросли вполне адекватными, там нормальная семья.
Короче, такая вот ложка дегтя.

В остальном - читала запоем. Правда первую треть книги было впечатление, что чего-то не хватает. Увлекательно, интересно, захватывает, но... Однако потом цепануло, затянуло и не отпустило.
И да, на первый взгляд роман может показаться чуть поверхностным. Ну приключения, ну экшен, ну подколки... И читается так же - легко и задорно. И только потом понимаешь, что на самом деле много всего было. Просто авторы не давили, герои не рефлексировали, а тебе теперь самому решать, что страшно, о чем страдать и над чем смеяться.

Фух, выдохлась. И хочется рассказывать и рассказывать дальше...
Оценку завышаю, да. Авансом. Не подведите, ребята.

Пы.сы. Еще одно имхо: от третьего лица было б круче.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,721 reviews260 followers
February 25, 2017
Evelyn is bored and fed up with society and her parents expectations. When Evelyn's sister, Rose, mysteriously disappears, she travels to London against her parents (who are doing nothing to find Rose) wishes to find her with her dashing friend Mr. Kent by her side. They quickly realize that they aren't the only ones looking for Rose. The young, and irritatingly Byronic, Mr. Sebastian Braddock is also searching for Rose, claiming that both sisters have special healing abilities. Evelyn, already convinced Sebastian is mad from previous encounters, believes she needs no further proof of his insanity until she stumbles upon the truth, which leads her to realize that Sebastian isn't as crazy as he sounds. Her sister may be in a much different kind of danger than she feared - it's not just her reputation that's at stake now.

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas is a fun YA debut. I was intrigued as soon as I heard it's billed as Jane Austen meets the X-Men, and for the most part it doesn't disappoint. Evelyn, our leading lady, is quite sassy and bold and not at all content to have her life dictated for her. She cares deeply for her sister and when no one wants to make a move to locate her, she realizes she'll have to do it herself if she ever wants to see her again. Regardless of what it means for her reputation, she's willing to do what she needs to do to get her sister back. In fact, Evelyn reminds me of Elizabeth Swann from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies with just a dash of Claire Bennet from Heroes.

Mr. Kent and Mr. Braddock round out the main cast and of the two Mr. Braddock is far more interesting, although he certainly gets off on the wrong foot with Evelyn when they meet. I liked getting to know his character's background as tragic as it turns out to be. When Evelyn learns the truth about his power, I was surprised to learn that it is something like . I was totally expecting something different, but I liked that reveal. Also, coming from a imprint called Swoon Reads, I was prepared for swooning and romance in general - even a love triangle, but I was happy to see that it's actually pretty light on that front leaving all the more time for adventure, powers, and snark.

Overall, These Vicious Masks is a fast-paced read that has a lot going for it including a tough heroine, superpowers, and a strong sisterly bond. I'm looking forward to more from Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas, and, of course, the sequel (and there has to be a sequel after an ending like that!).
Profile Image for The Sassy Bookworm.
3,459 reviews2,355 followers
February 5, 2017
I ran across this book the other day and just knew I was going to pick it up! First, because that cover is awesome, and second because it is billed as...

Jane Austen meets X-Men

So really, I had no choice but ti buy it!

This was a thoroughly delightful read! The plot was engaging and kept me interested. The characters, both main, and secondary were well written, and intriguing. Evelyn was funny, and feisty. Sebastian was broody, and mysterious. Nicholas was charming and also mysterious.

This book is set in 1882 London, and Rose, Evelyn's sister has gone missing. Evelyn leaves home and with the help of Mr. Kent (Nicolas) and Sebastian Braddock, she sets about trying to find out what happened to her. Of course during all this she discovers she and others around her have these secret supernatural powers.

Overall I really enjoyed this one. My only small complaint was the ending. I assume that there will be a book two, but I was hoping for more of a resolution with the but I have my fingers crossed I will get that closure in the next book (if there indeed is one)

Just read this is going to be a trilogy!!


Profile Image for Maggie ☘.
538 reviews659 followers
June 24, 2018
This was such a lighthearted and easy book to read. I kept hearing how fun it is, but.. It didn't make me laugh at all, it was more like light in a simplistic and cute way. Even though with a bit too much young-ish sounding narrative to me. The writing was ok. I was somewhat invested in the streightforward plotline, until about halfway through where I felt a bit meh about it. I liked all the characters enough, but I also wanted more from them. This book never deviated from the lighthearted historical fiction romance fluff it was. Thankfully, it didn't even pretend to be anything else but exactly that. The love trinagle was predictable, but I found myself being fond of both options for different reasons, which rarely happens. Though the characters overall were a bit too one dimensional for my taste.

“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?”

Then there was the cartoonish villain whose only motive for everything was 'for the greater good'. Now, I'm not saying that this motivation is not plausible and interesting - if done well! - or that many of my favourite villains weren't on the same page, becuase they were. My problem is that there was NO complexity behind his character at all. He was supposed to be this highly intelligent doctor, but we did not see it on the page. He kept saying 'for the greater good', 'to save the world', but.. Why? Why did he felt the need to do so? What was his maybe tragic?? backstory? Was there any or did he just do it for kicks? We don't know because being a one dimansional cartoonish villain was all there was to his character. And we all know that villain is what largely makes a book.

“Perhaps he anticipated our anticipation of his anticipation . . .”

Overall, an enterteining enough book with typical fantasy elements. It gave me exactly what I expected. Which means I was not dissapointed, but not overly excited about it either. I actually had similar feelings about this book as about Stalking Jack the Ripper: An ok book to read, but nothing overly memorable to me.
Profile Image for Hailee (haibooklovers).
498 reviews91 followers
February 5, 2017
A delightful story!

More plot-driven than character-driven, but I was certainly fine with that.

Reminded me a bit of Gail Carriger's Soulless, which I also loved.

Looking forward to continuing with the series!
Profile Image for Victoria.
157 reviews22 followers
June 4, 2016
4,5 stars

Whoa. Jane Austen meets X-Men???
I'm sold!

I knew from the page 1 that These Vicious Masks is something special. This book truly delivered everything I was hoping it would.

So. Meet our main characters:

"Evelyn, see there. The eldest from the Ralstons. I hear they have a lovely collection of stained-glass windows."
Ah, yes, just my type: a stiff, prideful, lord-to-be with impeccable, cold deportment to prove his perfect breeding.
"Set a date," I declared solemnly with a wave of my hand. "I shall marry him immediately."

Eveline is our female lead. She is headstrong, opinionated and wants to travel the world ( but her mother has different plans). Little did she know that the adventure would find her right on the ball. That one day changed her life completely. Her sister vanishes. So Evelyn travels to London to find her, accompanied by Mr. Kent aaand Mr. Braddock.
Evelyn attends brothelsdancing rooms, meets more people with extraordinary powers and ruins her reputation.
I like that Evelyn operates outside of society norms but she's not trying to change society by her actions.

Mr. Kent
"Sir, are you wrong in this matter?"
"N-no," the shoe shiner stammered."I'm trying to be fair."
Mr. Kent turned to the customer.
"Are you wrong?"
"Yes, of course I am," he said, his face blushing.
"Then avoid stepping in the mud, shut up, and be on your way! I'm trying to convince a girl to love me!"

I like him (surprise). He is charming, witty and funny. He is love with Evelyn and he'll do everything for her.

Then there is Sebastian Braddock.
“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 like him too (surprise surprise). He is a dark brooding soul, full of mystery and good looks. His story is horrible and I can forgive him almost everything :(
Evelyn's first impression of Sebastian Braddock leads her to form a negative impression of him. They meet each other at the ball. All the girls attending the ball are greatly attracted by Mr. Braddock. But Not Evelyn. Their relationship is steamy and hilarious. It was a pleasure to follow their fights :)

Together they make a extraordinary team. Witty back and forth banter, feisty discussions and a battle of wits lead to a blooming connection that I can hardly wait to see progress.

Love triangle
If somebody had told me that I'd love a love triangle before I read this book.. I would have laughed.
I usually don't like love triangles. I HATE them. Even if it's really well done. Like a love triangle in which you have no idea with who the main character is gonna end up. And most of the time is really easy to predict who is going to be the chosen, and in general the other guy is so friendzoned, all the time, that is horrible.
But this one.. I like both guys. I can't choose :(

These Vicious Masks is a great book with awesome plot, cool concept, good pace, amazing characters and cover is a beauty.
And I was dying from laughing after reading the household notes of Edmund Tuffins. Sweet Tuffins. He is amazing and I hope to see him again in the next book.

P.S. Did I tell you how gorgeous is this cover?
Profile Image for Alafiya.
53 reviews272 followers
April 9, 2016
Uhmm, can ya'll hear me? *mic screech*

*Takes a deeeep breath* Wellll. I'd like to start this review by thanking, the lovely, Katerina Kondrenko, for recommending me such an awesome novel. Kat, I truly am thankful, specially considering how I really needed the health a good book provides a good book. I was utterly exhausted of, first, the reading slump, next, the dnf-material or not-as-cool-as-expected books. Without you, I might have never given this book even a single chance. I don't usually read recommended books (no offence, please say 'none taken') not because I mind to or am arrogant but because my own tbr pile is exploding and majority of the recommendations are just not my thing. In this case I was gripped by Kat's magical review.

The above para is making my review seem oddly like a dude-i-just-won-an-Oscar speech, so I'll just drop the act and move on. Set in Victorian London, These Vicious masks is (copying this right from the synopsis) Jane Austen meets X-men awesomeness! Young, reckless Evelyn Wyndham is uninterested in the humdrum of dance-at-parties, marriage-is-a-rainbow stuff when one morning, all of a sudden, her sister disappears. Searching for her sister, Evelyn is plunged into a world full of lies, deceit, and above all, secrets.

This book is a perfect blend of two totally different genres and the writers have done an impeccable job. The world building is so perfectly detailed, the writing is so on-fleek that you get lost in the depth of it. The humour, the witty banter, the characters, every single aspect, from every single angle is flawless. The book is unpredictable too. And very, very Victorian. Yep I said that. Sci-fi meets Historical jazz like long lost lovers meant to be together. And trust me guys, the X-Men game is dark and brooding strong. Diverse characters so real, they could pop outta the book (come to think of it, that's a very creepy thing to say), also very loveable. The romance is just the right amount, done just the right way. 1 star less 'cause there was something missing here, something hmm-no-not-cool there.

I'd love to chatter about every single character and his or her unique awesomeness, about their powers and all but I don't want to spoil the book for anyone. All I can say without giving anything away is... nothing. I am not saying anything.

Bonus: Oh and there's a Mr. Dracy-ish charcter too!

All in all, I enjoyed this book, most ardently. *wink wink*
Profile Image for Trang Tran .
279 reviews143 followers
March 12, 2016
(3,5) description

Full review here :https://bookidote.wordpress.com/2016/...
Two sisters Rose and Evelyn are pretty girls and have a talent in nursing people. However, they have two completely different personality. While Evelyn is straightforward, not afraid to speak her mind, wants to travel the world, Rose is more reserved and obedient. Suddenly, Rose has been abducted one night and left a note. Evelyn strongly believed it wasn't her doing and someone must have forced her. Even if the commercial pick-up line for this book is Jane Austen meets X-men, I'd say it's more.. A Prelude to X-men. Because honestly, during 95% of the book there are only 3 people with powers (and a very different kind of powers) and it's only in the end (5%) that we see more people with powers. Jane Austen vibe is definitely there but again, not the same language... I believe the language in that century had completely different expressions (having read all the Jane Austen novels myself) and the authors of These Vicious Masks didn't meet that standard. However, I think it's a good thing for the target audience because it's easier to simply enjoy the actions. A younger and much lighter writing...

Trang- Book Blogger and Book Reviewer
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