Review: These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly ZekasThese Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker, Kelly Zekas
Series: These Vicious Masks #1
Published by Swoon Reads on February 9, 2016
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository

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.

Remember back in like 2008 when paranormal romance was THE thing. Twilight launched a whole wave of vampire (or vampyre if they were feelings fancy) books, which then spawned every single PNR creature ever. And, though at the time I enjoyed them, a lot of them were not excellent. PNR in general tends to be home to basically all the romance tropes that make me groan, rage, and want to throw books at the wall. The magical exception to this seems to be historical paranormal, which I hope is the new trend. Okay, maybe The Dark Days Club and These Vicious Masks alone do not a trend make, but I want many more books like this, okay?

These Vicious Masks had my attention right off but didn’t totally sell me until the plot got moving. It starts out pretty much straight up historical, with balls and a sassy heroine who doesn’t have many fucks to give about marriage and status and her reputation. Like, sure, Evelyn would prefer not to lose her place in society and have her name run through the muck, but better that than lose her sister, Rose. Girl has her priorities sorted.

gif try wearing a corset

Now, if you’re thinking this is completely unrealistic for a historical, um there are people with powers in it. So like let the girl have a sassy backbone and not really care whether she’ll be able to marry well. Besides, much as I love Jane Austen and straight up historical fiction, I also delight in fanciful romps like this where the characters get to kiss before marriage and other wild and crazy things like that.

There’s a lot of clear reference to Pride and Prejudice in These Vicious Masks, especially at the start with the way Mr. Braddock totally gets off on the wrong foot with Evelyn. It will shock no one to know that I ship it. Though, actually, I have to say that Mr. Kent, the other leg (or penis idk) of the love triangle turned out to be surprisingly interesting. I’m still team Sebastian but I’m really shocked I came out of this book liking both of them. It’s rare when love triangles work like that, and I hope this  continues.

gif madness or brilliance pirates

Add to the P&P some X-Men vibes and you’ve pretty much got These Vicious Masks. Well, I’d actually say it’s a little bit more Shatter Me, but whatever. View Spoiler » The bones of These Vicious Masks are very much indebted to some other stories, but Shanker and Zekas do great things with them and make a new incredibly fun story with them.

Evelyn is a total delight. She starts out sassing everyone around her and basically doesn’t quit. Shocking that I love her, right? And omg the way she and Sebastian argue with one another. And one of my favorite romancey tropes too: View Spoiler ». Once I got to the part where Evelyn went all-in searching for her sister, I could not put this book down and why would I want to? Spoiler: I would not.

gif bow down bitches

The only thing I was little bit iffy on were Evelyn’s convenient dreams, which were totally necessary to move the plot along. And, like, okay, they’re explained, but I didn’t really like the explanation. View Spoiler » Prophetic dreams are just such plot cheats, like amnesia.

However, the ending of These Vicious Masks? OFF THE CHAIN. Like, holy shit you guys. I was totally not expecting the balls-to-the-wall badassery of that ending. Pretty sure my mouth actually hung open in shock. That’s where the book crossed over from crackish fun to wow slow clap give me book two right this second goddamn. View Spoiler » Also, mad props for the fact that there are multiple ladies with powers, not just the heroine, which was the only thing I didn’t love about The Dark Days Club.

So yeah. If you’re into historical settings with paranormal shenanigans, kissing, sexual tension, banter, and sass, get yourself These Vicious Masks. It is most excellent. Just when I was ready to give up on Swoon Reads, I got this excellent read to remind me not to be a snob. :-p

Favorite Quote:

“Oh look! Upholstery,” I declared, feigning fascination with a side chair in the corner of the room.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif romance period piece
Ignore what it’s from. I’m just imagining this as one particular scene don’t mind me.

7 responses to “Review: These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas”

  1. Duuuuude I had NO IDEA that’s what this book was about! Jane Austen meets X-Men?! Granted I’m not a huge X-Men fan but I do like historicals (esp Regency or Victorian era) with a little something extra a la Soulless. And it’s so refreshing to like all sides of a love triangle! Plus how I can I resist a balls to the wall ending?! I was just talking with someone about how you and Gillian are my two most consistent litmus tests for books. Odds are if you loved it and it’s a genre that I enjoy, I’ll love it too. Definitely putting this and Dark Days Club on my list! Loved the Pirates gifs too 😀
    Morgan @ Gone with the Words recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Would Make Great Valentine’s Day ReadsMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yesssssss, I was totally about to give up on Swoon Reads but then I read this blurb and the other Austen-y one and was like NOPE MUST HAVE. And, hey, they can be fabulous, so basically you’ve got me now, Swoon Reads.

      Soulless is so much fun, though I ended up getting really mad at that series. But still that’s exactly they sort of thing I like, minus some unnecessary drama in one matter.

      At first the one guy isn’t likable, but you get to know him more and he’s not a sleaze like I’d been predicting. So refreshing!

      THE ENDING, MORGAN. I just so did not see that coming. What even.

      Gillian and I both loved it, sooooooo yeah you need it desperately. 🙂 We have excellent taste, and so do you.

      • I’ve only read one Swoon Reads title and I thought it was just ok… the synopses always sound good. But I have high hopes for Been Here All Along coming out in August and now this as well! Hahahah I remember how mad you got at the Soulless series 😛

  2. Gillian says:

    “Though, actually, I have to say that Mr. Kent, the other leg (or penis idk) of the love triangle turned out to be surprisingly interesting. I’m still team Sebastian but I’m really shocked I came out of this book liking both of them”

    First of all i choked on my coffee at the penis thing and SECONDLY YES I FEEL THE SAME like I am Team Sebastian but I was so surprised at how much I ended up enjoying Mr. Kent (esp after TWISTS)

    ditto with the thing in the spoiler box



    I wants book two and I wants it now and I worry aobut my ship but also I dont for reasons we can DISCUSS
    Gillian recently posted…Top Ten Greatest Declarations of LoveMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      This is what happens when I write reviews late at night and I am whacked out tired. Actually it’s really fun and maybe I should do it more. Mr. Kent got so much more interesting. I had totally dismissed him as the douchebag love interest, but he turns out to be a nice, supportive guy. WIN.

      Still ship it but like really why do romances keep doing this trope?



      I worry about my ship and yes messaging you right now for discuss.

  3. WHAT IS THIS BOOK I MUST HAVE IT. Pride & Prejudice + X-Men / Shatter Me?

    It kills me that there are so many spoiler tags in this review but I daren’t click on any of them. *traipses over to Amazon*
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…ARC Book Review: Call Me, Maybe by Ellie CahillMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      YOU MUST.

      DO NOT CLICK THE SPOILER TAGS. Sometimes I tag stuff that’s marginally a spoiler but these are real spoilers. DO NOT DO IT. So much fun to be surprised.

      But yes it’s most excellent, and, unlike with Rebel Mechanics, there’s definitely another book coming, THANK GOODNESS.

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