These Vicious Masks #1, by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
Description: (from Swoon Reads )
“Evelyn has no interest in marriage and even the dashing Mr. Kent can’t inspire her to give in to society’s expectations. She’d much rather assist her beloved sister Rose in her radical quest to become a doctor. Then she meets Sebastian Braddock. The reclusive gentleman is vexing, annoyingly attractive, and quite possibly mad—and his interest in Rose is galling. So when Rose disappears, Sebastian is immediately suspect.
Yet Sebastian’s strange tales of special powers soon prove to be true, and Evelyn learns that Rose’s kidnappers have much worse in mind for her than simply ruining her reputation. Surrounded by secrets, lies, and unprecedented danger, Evelyn has no choice but to trust Sebastian, yet she can’t help but worry that his secrets are the most dangerous of all…”
The catch phrase from goodreads totally worked on me : “Jane Austen meets X-Men in this gripping and adventure-filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.” As soon as I saw it, I needed that book.
If you read Pride and Prejudice, you’ll smile at a lot of situations and will guess some things, but it doesn’t spoil the book at all. The X-men comparison however might not have been the best. I guess it was chosen because of the special abilities some of the characters possess, and not because there’s some kind of school or super team (maybe in the sequel?). Still, I wasn’t disappointed at all. It was all perfectly balanced according to the setting and the time.
Speaking of which, the story is set in England, 1882. The protagonist, Evelyn, resembles Elizabeth Bennet a lot, she has only one sister who’s dearly loved by her family and their neighbourhood. Evelyn doesn’t want to marry and to mingle with people, she is extremely bored by the rules of society; it really felt like a girl from our time was thrown to the 1880s and was totally not okay with the way things are (as one should). She’s also very witty and sarcastic, my favourite kind of protagonist to follow!
Mr.Braddock reminds us of Mr.Darcy in a very exaggerate way; but it’s really funny and it all makes sense when you read more about him. It’s the case for almost all of the characters, they are not really what they seem to be, which explains the title. There’s a lot of secondary characters that are very well written and that I loved to read about.
“What on earth is his hold over you? Did he threaten you? Beat you up? You know, I could help if he injured you—” “Dearie, we owe ’im our lives.” I gaped at them, certain I was mishearing. Perhaps they owed him their wives? Knives?”
The villain is my only disappointment, he could have been better, scarier. Maybe the light tone of the novel made me not really care about him, I don’t know. But it was not a really big regret, it was still better than in other books and I’m sure we’ll see more of the true evil in the sequel!
Evelyn is constantly worried and focused on finding her sister and even if this could be a gloomy subject, the book remain funny and made me laugh out loud many times. But the book still manage to do so without turning Evelyn into some sort of weird girl or into a person glad to have an adventure at the expense of her sister. It all gravitates around this disappearance and the search which is very interesting. Alongside Evelyn, we’ll go through the streets of London, and as I love Victorian London setting (if you don’t know what I mean, picture yourself the last Christmas Special of Sherlock, or the last Assassin’s Creed game) it was a pleasure to read.
“Please wait for me, I’ll be home shortly. Feel free to save Robert’s life if you’re bored.”
Evelyn always wants to see for herself, doesn’t want the guys to go without her and to be left behind, and if that’s the case, she goes alone (quick reminder: that was not proper at all at the time). She’s betrayed, manipulated, but always heading head first into troubles. She never gives up, no matter the risks for her reputation.
As you’d guess the two men can be seen as love interests but even if Evelyn feels some things (which is understandable) she tries to keep her head on the main issue : her sister. I tend to hate love triangle but here there was almost no romance, mainly some flirtation but all this with a very fast paced story and it never bored me, it was really fun.
I will totally keep an eye open for the sequel and preorder it as soon as I can!
“All the ending does is ruin perfectly good suspense,” he said with a wink and headed for the door.”
(originally posted: 15th April 2016)