Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Review: These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

The title reminds me of a line from the Billy Joel song, The Stranger: "We all have a face that we hide away forever." The only difference is that in the process of the book some of the masks are slowly stripped away.

Billed as "Jane Austen meets the X-men," the book pretty much lives up to its hype. It is a story set in the Victorian era, but with individuals with special powers. There are 3 groups. One is the group that doesn't know that much about their powers and is on the naive side. The second group knows, uses, and sometimes exploits their powers or the powers of others. And then there is a third group with no special powers.

Evelyn has come to London in search of her sister  Rosamund who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. On the way she meets Mr. Kent who arranges for her to stay with his sister and his parents and promises to aid in finding Rose. Evelyn meets Sebastian Braddock. Mr. Braddock claims that Evelyn and her sister both possess special healing powers. And he wants Evelyn to heal someone close to him. In return, he will help seek out Rosamund.

The book is very much a missing person mystery. Rosamund is gone and presumed in danger by Evelyn. After all wouldn't she take her medicine kit with her if she left voluntarily?

There is also a touch of romance. There is not quite a love triangle. The focus though is on finding Rose. There are dangers both mundane and extraordinary in the course of the search.

Evelyn especially is of interest. She doesn't care much for her role in society as a young unmarried woman. And she detests attending balls with her mother trying to set her up with some young man. She argues that there must be more to life. Her sister is milder in manner and appears to go along with her mother's designs at least at the ball in the beginning.

The ending was a surprise to me. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It could be read as a standalone, but it will leave you wanting more. Thank goodness the second book in the trilogy comes out March 14, 2017 from Swoon Reads.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It's a good mystery with a touch of romance and a touch of the gothic. It is a YA book, but I found it enjoyable as an adult as well.