Book Talk: These Vengeful Souls by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

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

Book Talk: These Vengeful Souls by Tarun Shanker & Kelly ZekasThese Vengeful Souls by Tarun Shanker, Kelly Zekas
Series: These Vicious Masks #3
Published by Swoon Reads on February 20, 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance, Humor, Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book Depository

England, 1883. On the run with the grieving Sebastian Braddock, Evelyn wants two things: to be reunited with her friends, and to get revenge on the evil Captain Goode. Not only has he misused his and Sebastian's powers to rack up a terrible death toll, but he's also completely destroyed any hope of Evelyn or her friends regaining the life they once knew.

Evelyn is determined to make Captain Goode pay for what he's done, but is her revenge worth risking the lives of Sebastian and her friends? Or is it better to flee the city and focus on staying alive? And with the Captain spreading lies about Sebastian in an attempt to flush them out of hiding and turn the populace against them, does she even have a choice at all?

When I talk about this series, I inevitably end up talking about how it’s far and away the absolute best thing ever published by Swoon Reads. While absolutely true, this could also be misleading, so to be super duper clear: These Vicious Masks is great regardless of publisher. These books aren’t just amazing for Swoon Reads; they’re amazing in general. (Also, I know I sound harsh on Swoon Reads, but there are a lot of books and the great ones are the exceptions; I know because I’ve tried most of them.) I’ve now read These Vicious Masks thrice and These Ruthless Deeds twice because my poor memory means that I generally have to reread for each new book that comes out in a series; sometimes I resent that, but here it was a pleasure.

What I love most about this series as a whole is the humor. Though humor doesn’t tend to get massive cred in writing circles, it really should, because it takes so much more talent than melancholy. Throughout the series, Shanker and Zekas maintain many types of humor: sarcastic banter, witty rejoinders, recurring gags, and situational to name a few. Fantasy tends to the dark and edgy, and, aside from banter between characters, there’s not much that is truly hilarious, especially while also having a deliciously dark backbone. TBH, these books are so funny in all my favorite kinds of humor that I absolutely wish I were best friends with the authors because I feel like they get me. Which is mildly creepy but the best way I explain just how much I love the humor in this series and the fact that, even in the final book, it’s still just as funny as in book one.

In some ways, These Vengeful Souls turned out to be a bit lighter than I anticipated. Certainly, it doesn’t have the overwhelming intensity of These Ruthless Deeds, though I love that there’s a bit of a joke about that. The plot is, largely, less life or death than the prior books. In These Vengeful Souls, Evelyn’s crew is fighting, more than anything, public opinion. While less dramatic and cinematic in many ways, it’s a different kind of scary, and it is fascinating to watch them struggle against an enemy less easy to fight. Captain Goode isn’t the all-consumingly terrifying villain that the Doctor was or even the prior head of the society, but he does prove difficult to defeat nonetheless. (And I love that his name was absolutely a red herring in book two.)

The characters spend much of These Vengeful Souls reeling from the events of These Ruthless Deeds, unsurprising given how many of their friends and family members die. Shanker & Zekas manage to find both the humor and the tragedy in the way Sebastian, Evelyn, and Rose all believe themselves to be the ones guilty for those deaths. I also love the bit of satire in the moment where someone suggests that Evelyn might be able to bring people back to life, because, as a reader, you rather expect that based on other books, but Shanker & Zekas are way too badass for an easy out like that. I love that they didn’t back that out, even though I’m still in pain about some of the losses.

My biggest gripe is that I wanted a bit more Sebastian and Evelyn hotness. What we have is good, but I wanted some moments of pure, happy shipness, and I don’t feel like I got that. However, I will say that I ADORED the moment when Sebastian accused her of being the brooding, Byronic one; Evelyn’s offense was completely delightful. The background ship between Rose and Catherine is super precious too, and also I CALLED IT. Rose finally really becomes a character that I could sympathize with in this book. I’d always sort of expected her to be a villain and was a bit disappointed she wasn’t, because what she’s been is boring. But here we see her use her power and really come to understand how much her charm sucks for her and how hard she tries not to take advantage of others, because nothing is ever real for her.

I am so, so sad to see this series end, and I need more Shanker/Zekas books in my life ASAP. If you enjoy Deanna Raybourn, Gail Carriger, or Alison Goodman, you should absolutely be reading this series.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

One response to “Book Talk: These Vengeful Souls by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas”

  1. I need to read this one! I loved the other two, but I just haven’t had time thanks to grad school. I am sad the series is over. That last book was killer.

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