Published by Swoon Reads on February 9, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Historical, Romance
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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.
Set in a historical setting, These Vicious Masks features a set of vibrant characters with supernatural powers that have the power to change the world – in both good and bad ways. We start out with Evelyn, who is telling the story from a first person point of view. She dislikes the monotonous patterns of English society and the fake faces that everyone presents. From the very first chapter, I knew I was going to enjoy reading through Evelyn’s perspective. She has a refreshing voice and is honest and upfront about things – so different from the facades that dominate the rest of the community.
“But what was point of all this? Was anyone truly satisfied with seeing the same people over and over again, mouthing the same false words, feeling nothing, and saying less? Even my London season felt like I was in a prison, trapped in the same routine of balls, dinners, theaters, and concerts that all seemed to blend together, just like the shallow people in attendance.”
I like how the authors take into account the setting. Our characters know what propriety allows them to do (or not do) and the boundaries, instead of just frolicking around and doing whatever they want. That is, until they start coming upon life-or-death situations. I must admit, it was funny to read things like “Oh we must investigate this-this-and-that to get to the bottom of this!” and the reply “Okay, I’ll call you at 9 am sharp tomorrow morning so we can start doing so.” I think it’s just me, but I find the delay in the investigation quite amusing. Either way, it helped me even more become immersed in the setting of the 1800’s.
In the story, Evelyn is on a quest to find her kidnapped sister Rose, and along the way discovers her own dormant abilities. The supernatural aspects are nicely weaved into the story and provided an interesting dynamic. It was especially fun to see the characters unravel more and more of the mysteries surrounding their abilities and why Evelyn’s sister got kidnapped. We are lead from ballrooms to brothels (or, er, dancing rooms) to discover what happened to Rose and each event was more exciting than the last. The story really kept me on my feet as I read quicker and quicker to find out what the characters have discovered.
Quite honestly, I enjoyed reading about each and every character. Some were self-motivated, while others liked making decisions for other people, but the bottom line was that they were intelligent, flawed, and learned many lessons throughout the story. Among those characters include Mr. Kent, who fancies himself a detective, as well as Mr. Braddock, who is mysterious and knows more than he’s telling about the “powers” that Evelyn and her sister have. I thought that Evelyn’s initial reaction to Mr. Braddock’s claims were quite realistic: disbelief and incredulity. But as the story progresses, the more she’s willing to believe them. This was a nice change from the usual “Oh, of course I’ll go along with what you say – you’re good-looking, after all!” that we see sometimes in Young Adult books.
There is an evident love triangle (which you guys know I’m not a big fan of), but there is definitely a lean towards one guy more than the other. Seriously, the air between them was literally crackling with tension. Despite that, it’s definitely a subtle romance that grow on both characters (who refuse to acknowledge it). I loved reading their bickering and witty dialogue – seriously, they were made for each other. Despite the romance being quite in the background in favor of the exhilarating story, it still managed to make me swoon.
“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.”
Adding to that was the ending. Wow – I did not expect what happened to happen! Be warned, readers, that there is a cliffhanger. The main points are resolved in this book but there’s a lot left hanging, which makes me angsty for the next book. We see glimpses of a bigger organization working behind the scenes and the authors set it up real nicely for the sequel. Which I
want desperately need!
You need to get your hands on this historical book that contains, warning: an intricate plot, electric romance, headstrong characters, and massive cliffhanger with a dose of the supernatural that’ll leave you begging for more.
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