ARC Review: These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zekas and Tarun Shanker

4/5 Stars 
Published by Swoon Reads
Publishing February 9th, 2016

*Thank you to Swoon Reads and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC!

Synopsis: 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. 

This book certainly lives up to its synopsis and my expectations! With These Vicious Masks being one of my most anticipated reads of 2016, I was hyping it up loads and loads. Ever since I read "Jane Austen meets X-Men" I was entirely devoted and willing to having this book mess me up - and mess me up it did. Kelly Zekas and Tarun Shanker, two debut authors, come together in this gripping story to provide us with a superhero-esque adventure filled with fascinating and daring quests that left me wanting more. These Vicious Masks had a slow, but steady, and compelling pace that had me intrigued from start to finish. I was really fond of the setting and the time period in which this book took place, and I enjoyed the language - wishing I could time-travel back to Victorian London to wear the dresses and speak with sarcastic wit (though I already do that now).

We are introduced to a fascinating cast of characters, which reminded me much of X-Men in its sense of different personalities and people coming together for a greater cause. I could practically picture Sunspot and White Queen hanging out with Evelyn and Sebastian, and honestly I hope that's the case in These Vicious Masks #2. Evelyn is a snarky, determined, kick-ass female lead. She does not take no for an answer and doesn't allow the men she surrounds herself with decide what she is to feel or do. Sebastian was almost, almost, a dark, brooding hero, but there was so much more clearly underneath the surface of his character. I really enjoyed watching him open up throughout the book, and I can't wait to see how Evelyn and Sebastian's intense (both physical and otherwise) chemistry develop into the second book. Though the synopsis states that it dabbles in romance, it is a very lightly touched concept, which made way for more action packed, sherlock-like adventure sequences. 

I loved the writing style in this book. It was witty, clever, and vividly expressive. Some passages were sophisticatedly crafted to portray emotion and thoughts in a way that was almost poetic. Zekas and Shanker were definitely a dynamic duo and produced a very promising start to a trilogy. Each chapter was crucial and every single character was a part of such a delicately crafted spiderweb of secrets, lies, and information. Everything flowed together so effortlessly and was constructed to have you thinking through clues and information given to you to solve the mystery. If there is one thing I could pick out and praise over and over it would be the relationship between Evelyn and Rose. There is a huge unconditional sisterly love between the two of them that drives this story forward and I respect that. It made the characters feel that much more real and rational. 

These Vicious Masks was an amazing read and I cannot wait for the sequel, despite how far away it may be. If you love superheroes or just the concept of powers, then this is definitely the read for you. If you love all things historical fiction, then this is for you as well. If you love to read and breathe and eat, then this book is certainly for you. You can pick up this exquisite beauty on February 9th, 2016!

"Then if that's what it takes, by all means, let's get ourselves killed ..."