Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Received From: Amazon
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.
PAIRING: M/F but no pairing by the end of the novel
TROPES: enemies to lovers, surprise magical powers, close sibling relationships, love triangle, snarky heroine, broody hero
TAGS: historical, young adult, Victorian Era, mystery, romance, fantasy, paranormal
WARNINGS: violence, death, mind control, illness, mentions of forced institutionalization
“We do not remain the same each minute to the next. Every word you hear, every sight you see, every smell, every thought you have, every moment—it all changes you. We keep putting on maskafter mask, layers over layers. That’s how one grows.”
She scooped up a handful of a light cream and massaged it into my skin. My face felt lightened, malleable, fluid. “That sounds dismal. Never truly seeing someone.”
“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.”
With comps like JANE AUSTEN MEETS X-MEN, how could one possibly turn out a book that promises so much? I couldn’t and I was not disappointed in what I found!
THESE VICIOUS MASKS is the first of a series starring our lovely protagonist Evelyn Wyndham and an otherwise incredible cast of characters. In this novel, Evelyn is forced to travel to London when her sister is kidnapped, and must work with a man who insists both Evelyn and her sister, Rose, have the magical ability to heal.
At first glance, the plot of the novel seems fairly straightforward; it’s obviously a Sherlockian-type mystery, with semi-predictable twists and turns. However, the further in you go, you eventually come to realize that there is more to this story than there appears. There are multiple unexpected revelations, and you generally feel like you’re riding a rollercoaster. (That’s a good thing. I like rollercoasters. I guess it would be bad for people who don’t like that, though…)
The writing is reminiscent of an Austen novel, as promised. It’s simple and elegant, but with enough detail to keep you fully entertained. There is a snarky, witty protagonist who you cannot resist falling in love with, and two love interests: the broody hero who starts out as an enemy and the flirty, sidekick-like best friend.
Many of you may be reading this, thinking of turning away because of the love triangle, but I want to reassure you that it’s not the kind of love triangle that Young Adult has become infamous more. It’s immediately apparent, from chapter one, that there are two potential love interests. But even as this is obvious from the get-go, so is Evelyn’s choice; there’s no hiding the fact of who she prefers. (Plus, the tagline on the front cover basically gives it away.)
One aspect that I absolutely adored about this novel was Evelyn’s complete dedication to finding and rescuing Rose. Close sibling relationships is one of my weaknesses in books, and Evelyn and Rose do everything in their power to help and support the other. Evelyn willingly risks her reputation and her life, multiple times, in the name of finding her sister. It’s incredibly touching and heartbreaking all at once.
THESE VICIOUS MASKS is a fantastic start to what promises to be a wonderful series, and I look forward to continuing it, as well as anticipate many other great works from these two authors.
Kelly is a writer living in NYC. YA is her absolute favorite thing on earth other than cupcakes and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possibly too early age (12?), and still adores a good historical romance.
Mild-mannered assistant by day, milder-mannered writer by night, Tarun Shanker is a New York University graduate currently living in Los Angeles. His idea of paradise is a place where kung-fu movies are projected on clouds, David Bowie’s music fills the air and chai tea flows freely from fountains.