I received this book for free from ALAMW in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zekas, Tarun Shanker
Series: These Vicious Masks #1
Published by Macmillan on 2016-02-09
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Historical, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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.
I was so excited to get my hands on this book because did you guys read that synopsis? Yeah, I was hooked. Granted I’ve never read Jane Austen before but I love X-Men and Victorian London, and I love that cover, so I most definitely wanted this one. After reading it, I can at least say that that description does hold up. But I think my expectations were set too high. I was hoping to love it but I ended up only liking it. It was enjoyable enough but a few things were just too frustrating for me.
My favorite parts of this book were Victorian London and the powers that are similar to those in X-Men. I love nothing more than snark that comes from characters in Victorian London who loathe high society. I love it! When it’s done right, the snark can be so much fun. And luckily in this case, I did enjoy Evelyn and her disdain for perfect reputations and fancy balls and dinners. It was a perfect amount of fun and hate and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also liked getting to learn about the powers that different characters had. I was even a little surprised by some of them when they showed up! I liked how they were revealed slowly throughout the book. Though we don’t really learn how they’ve happened or why some people have them and some don’t, I’m glad I wasn’t given some sort of brush off explanation. We get some talk about a theory for why it is happening but the book focuses more on other things and that was just fine with me.
On the other hand, the writing was a bit choppy. I had to read a couple of the action scenes over again because they would just jump from one thing to the next. I’m sure fighting scenes are exceptionally hard to write and visualize but I’ve seen them done very well and it just wasn’t here. Scenes would also jump around a bit and it’s just one of those things where you don’t really notice it when it’s done smoothly and it’s hard to even describe but you just know when it’s not quite working. Which is unfortunate because the book was fun and I enjoyed the characters. Especially Evelyn and Mr. Kent, who’s dialogue worked really well. But that brings us to the next piece of the book that annoyed me.
This book has a love triangle. I wouldn’t mention it with details but the synopsis has already laid it out for you so I’m not going to worry about it. On one side we have the dashing friend that we trust and know jumping at the chance to help us save our sister and on the other we have a mysterious and dark stranger possibly tied up with Rose’s disappearance. It’s just such a cliche. And I know I should have expected it because of that synopsis and the comparisons and all of that and I know we aren’t suppose to take the book too seriously, but this sort of thing just annoys me. Especially when the characters are taking it so seriously. We can’t laugh at it if they aren’t. And so I just roll my eyes. And I did. Quite a bit. It didn’t ruin the book for me like triangles sometimes can but it definitely kept me from really loving the book.
Overall, I did enjoy the book. The setting and the characters were fun. And the powers were awesome! But the problems with the writing and the love triangle did keep me from really loving it. The beginning had a very Gail Carriger book feel to it but it veered off about halfway through when the love triangle started playing a bigger part. Also, there are a few darker scenes in this. It’s not a dark book, really, but I would be misleading you if I didn’t mention that it does get a little dark. This isn’t a book I’ll say you definitely should or shouldn’t read. It was middle of the road for me so I think you’re just going to have to decide for yourselves on this one.
I’d love to know your thoughts on it if you’ve read it!