These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks #1)
by Tarun Shanker, Kelly Zekas
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.
3.5 of 5 Stars
My biggest pull toward this series was my ongoing curiosity to try more historical fiction. I’ve had my eye out for something different in that genre, and this fit that perfectly. The story is an interesting mix of historical high society, mystery, suspense, and fantasy. Evelyn is our main character and while she’s a very strong female lead, I never fully connected with her. I usually love a strong and independent protagonist but in this case, it felt like those traits were used to weaken her rather than help her grow. As much as I didn’t connect with her and often found myself frustrated, she was still a great character. I felt engaged with the task of finding her sister Rose and really enjoyed the mystery that went on with that and with the other characters.
Both Sebastian and Mr. Kent are great supporting characters. I wonder now if an alternating perspective in the story would have helped the reader get to know them more. This story only touches on romance but I am very curious as to how the hint of a love triangle will continue to develop as the series continues. For the first time I can remember, I’m torn on who to root for. I like both men for different reasons. The ending of this book only cemented my confusion. I won’t reveal too much of my reaction because I don’t want to give anything away, but it did throw me. I also recommend bringing tissues to the final few chapters.
Overall, fans of historical fiction who want to dip their toes into fantasy will enjoy this book the most. My rating is largely due to the fact that I’m not as interested in the historical setting that this book was placed, even though I tried to be. That said, I think this would also be a wonderful choice for a book group who could discuss a number of social issues like gossip, class, wealth, the impact of personal decisions on family, and reputation.