These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Publisher: Swoon Reads (9th Feb 2016)
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 fell in love with the cover of Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas’s debut novel, These Vicious Masks the first time my eyes zeroed in on the stunning masquerade mask on the cover. When the blurb on Amazon promised These Vicious Masks as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice meets X-Men and I couldn’t help but get giddily excited! I am such a geek, I know but can you blame me? A cross between my ultimate favourite classic and superpowers? I am sold!
These Vicious Masks follows the tale of Evelyn Wyndham who is very much like our much beloved and strong-willed Jane Austen heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, as she navigates the tricky social classes of the 1800s with her sister, Rose. However, her life gets uprooted when her sister mysteriously disappears off to London and Evelyn takes it upon her stride to find out what happened to her dear sister. Along the way, she discovers something much more sinister about her sister’s sudden disappearance and soon learns about powers that she potentially possesses.
“No, the true face is wretchedly simple and empty. 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.”
If you’re a fan of Regency era novels and superpowers, then These Vicious Masks is definitely for you because it’s a cross between Marvel’s X-Men and Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s novels. The writing was just delectable and I couldn’t get enough of it because Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas have perfected the proper style that complements the setting of the book and I, for one, am a fan of Jane Austen and I loved how extremely readable the book was!
I enjoyed reading about the mysterious superpowers and the theory behind selected individuals getting them. It was clever and imaginative and the powers these characters possess were quite remarkable and different from what we normally expect from superheroes – telekinesis, fire manipulation, etc.
“Miss Wyndham, when I first met you in London, I thought you the most intelligent and the strongest girl I had ever had the pleasure of meeting. She would never moon after some mopey, dark boy. She would look for the man that challenged her, amused her, and made her sparkle and enjoy life.”
Though I might have an issue with the romance of the book because, well, I am sucker for romance and love triangles after all, but in These Vicious Masks, I felt that the romance was somewhat lacklustre and I was actually hoping for some potential sparks between Evelyn, Mr Braddock and Mr Kent. But since it’s the first book of a series (not sure if I’m right but we’ll see!) I reckon they will make leeway for more romance in the continuation of the series. One thing is for certain, I did enjoy the banter between Evelyn and Mr Kent. Much flailing and fanboying ensued.
“Excuses are nothing more than neatly packaged reports on the messy, unknowable truth”
These Vicious Masks is a very readable and easy book to fall into because of its writing that fitted the setting so well and tinged with some light humour. It was a quick read for me as I finished it in a day and I would very much like to find out what the sequel offers and hoping for more surprises and a shocking plot twist!
I’d like to thank Pansing Singapore for sending me a copy of These Vicious Masks in exchange for an honest review.