These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas [ARC]

Evelyn’s sister, Rose, has been kidnapped–only, no one believes her. There is the little detail of Rose’s goodbye/apology/”I’m running away from home” note…but Evelyn knows that it’s actually a clue left for her by Rose. The only thing left for Evelyn to do is to follow Rose to London and try to bring her sister back home herself. If only that annoyingly Byronic Mr. Braddock would stop talking about her and Rose’s “special powers” and let her search in peace!

I23688792 saw this book advertised as “X-Men meets Jane Austen”. I thought to myself, “I like both of those things. I guess I’ll give this book a try…” Honestly, I didn’t expect much–I thought it would be a dud. Boy, was I wrong. This book really delivered on that initial promise! Everything that I love about X-Men and everything that I love about Jane Austen were combined in an utterly believable way. At first I was worried that the characters’ powers would be lame or wouldn’t make much sense in the context, but I thought they were all interesting and unique.

I thought Evelyn was a spunky main character and I really enjoyed viewing the world through her eyes. At the same time, her sister Rose is a great compliment and they’re both portrayed as strong women which was just great to see. A warning to readers: there is a love triangle in this book. With that being said, I was legitimately torn between our two suitors which usually doesn’t happen. Typically I pick a favorite pretty early on and stick with it, but with this book I kept switching between the two. Mr. Braddock and Mr. Kent are very different from each other in nearly every way which is an interesting and fun contrast. Overall, the love triangle felt a tad forced perhaps and didn’t seem overwhelmingly necessary, but I’m willing to overlook that.

The pace of this book was a little slow at times, but the characters and the world created were so enjoyable that I didn’t mind. There are a lot of times throughout the book when Evelyn is forced to pause in her search for Rose so she can participate in Society in order to maintain her reputation. This creates some downtime for the reader as well since the story is only told from Evelyn’s point of view. It’s interesting though, because the reader is also left wondering where Rose is and what’s happening to her–but can’t answer those questions because we’re forced to watch a play along with Evelyn.

I thought the ending was very interesting…I won’t go into any detail, but I liked it. I don’t think everyone will, but I thought it was a bold choice that I honestly did not see coming. My only complaint is that the last chapter seemed a little too much like X-Men. We have one person who has the ability to find other “mutants” and one person who has a demonstrable ability to convince their fellows to join with them. We’ll see how this series progresses, but I for one am excited to see what they come up with next.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Sexual Content: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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