Friday, February 5, 2016

Book review - These Vicious Masks

Title: These Vicious Maks
Author: Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Genre: historical fiction/sci-fi
Similar books: The Diviners by Libba Bray
                     The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni
not great, but not bad
Summary (provided by publisher): Evelyn has no interest in marriage and even the dashing Mr. Kent can’t make her want to live up to society’s expectations. She’d much rather assist her beloved sister Rose in achieving her radical dream of becoming a doctor. But everything changes the night she meets Sebastian Braddock – not only is the reclusive gentleman both vexing and annoyingly attractive, he’s also quite possibly mad, and his interest in Rose is galling. So when Evelyn wakes up to discover that Rose has disappeared, she immediately suspects Sebastian.

But then she discovers that Sebastian’s strange tales of special powers are actually true, and that Rose’s kidnappers have worse in mind for her than simply ruining her reputation. Surrounded by secrets, lies, and unprecedented danger, Evelyn has no choice but to trust Sebastian, yet she can’t help but worry that Sebastian’s secrets are the most dangerous of all… 

My opinion: I've read other historical fiction with fantastical elements like mental powers. For such novels to be truly successful, there needs to be a careful blend of historical elements and the fantastic, using the history to give the fantastic context and heavier impact. Unfortunately, in this novel, the balance is off. There's too much focus on Victorian propriety and match-making, not enough on the powers and conspiracy around them. While the historical elements are important, giving the plot and the characters context, they don't need to be the major focus of the novel. Evelyn is a great character, full of attitude and thoroughly fed-up with the society in which she lives. The other characters are less well-fleshed and the plot is a little murky. There's certainly room for growth, though, and future volumes could make the series as a whole quite strong.

More information: These Vicious Masks releases February 9.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

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