These Vicious Masks by Tarun ShankerThese Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker

These Vicious Masks

byTarun Shanker, Kelly Zekas

Paperback | February 9, 2016

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Jane Austen meets X-Men in this thrilling Victorian adventure full of magic and mysticism, perfect for anyone who loves a confident, rebellious heroine, snappy dialogue, and a hint of romance.

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.

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, These Vicious Masks is an action-packed, genre-bending novel by debut authors Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas.

Praise for These Vicious Masks:

"This is a perfect pick for someone who wants a little magic in their Victorian novels, and its combination of historical fiction and mysticism will remind readers of Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy." -Booklist

"This tale has brisk pacing, plenty of action, and a heroine with more than her fair share of girl-power confidence." -School Library Journal

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.Kelly Zekas, an NYU graduate, writes, ...
Title:These Vicious MasksFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.24 × 5.51 × 0.82 inPublished:February 9, 2016Publisher:Feiwel & FriendsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1250073898

ISBN - 13:9781250073891


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heart Pounding Historical Fantasy Fiction The perfect mix of mystery, suspense, supernatural and romance were the catalyst for this delightful and entertaining read! This adventure-filled historical fiction is set in England 1882. Against her parents' wishes, Evelyn Wyndham traveled to London with the charming Mr. Kent as her travel companion, in search of her beloved sister Rose whom she believed was kidnapped. She crossed path with the mysterious solitudinarian Mr. Braddock, who is also looking for Rose, believing both sisters to possess special healing powers. Truth be told, I almost DNF this book. It was rather slow-paced for me in the beginning and I just couldn't get into it. Jaw-dropped, flabbergasted and book hangover when I finished this book! A very appealing plot with layers and layers of mysteries and twists throughout the story. Honestly, it was somewhat slow-paced for me in the beginning and at some point confusing (too much going on!), but everything fell into place eventually and it keeps getting better! The characters are interesting, and quite well developed with their backstories. Both Evelyn and Rose are not the only ones who has special powers. You will meet other characters with different special abilities too. These gifted individuals are being hunted by the nefarious Dr. Beck who wanted to conduct experiments & research on them. It reminds me of X-Men and The Heroes actually. There are a lot of characters in this story and was a little overwhelming for me to keep track. Smooth prose albeit there were some parts that I felt disconnected. I appreciate the clean language used throughout the book, and it is definitely appropriate for young readers. There are also lots and lots of dialogues, making this a fun and quick read; also one of the reasons that I find difficult to quit this book. In a nutshell, this heart pounding historical fantasy fiction is an enjoyable read and will certainly keep readers entertained. It may start slow, but it'll pick up. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series.
Date published: 2018-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jane Austen meets paranormal thriller I loved this book SO SO MUCH!! This was such a unique, clever, engaging plot. It is a very different twist on paranormal stories, combined with a Victorian, Jane-Austen-esque vibe, and I totally ate up every minute of it!! Evelyn is a wonderful character. She is smart, and determined and absolutely insistent on being herself, no matter what her parents, society or other people want to make her do, which is conform. I especially love that this story gives Evelyn consequences for her refusal to conform, as opposed to other books where the heroine magically avoids and issues related to being a rebel. Evelyn has to live with the results of her choices, which are not always perfect, and that makes her a much more human and relatable character. I also love the triangle here, because it is not only a choice between two very different men that Evelyn finds herself attracted to, but also a world and situations that make every single moment with either - and sometimes both - of them ridiculously complicated and difficult to navigate. I like complexity and challenges for my main characters, and Evelyn has to deal with bucketloads of it. The pacing in this story is fabulous! I had such a hard time putting this down at each sitting. So much happens and happens so quickly and unexpectedly, that I found myself racing from the end of one chapter into the next one. This was an easy read, and the pace made it very easy to keep going once you start. The ending was a proper ending to this story, although we are very much left knowing that there is SO MUCH MORE TO COME in Evelyn's life, and I am chomping at the bit to read the next book in this series. This is such terrific world-building and I cannot WAIT to dive back into this world and see what happens next. Highly recommended if you think the combining Jane Austen with Buffy the Vampire Slayer [although there are no vampires in this] sounds like an excellent idea. I loved, loved, LOVED this book!!
Date published: 2018-03-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good! I wasn't totally sure what to expect from this book but it was so weird in a good way. the powers seemed so normal in the society (not massive fantasy vibes with the history even though it was there.) I'm so interested in all the different powers! Keep trying to decide which one I would want. I really loved Evelyn but I found the male leads to be almost interchangable making it hard to keep them as separate characters
Date published: 2017-12-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Entertaining and fun, but won't leave any real lasting impression. Loved the cross between historical fiction and the X-Men-like powers. Evelyn is snarky and stubborn and is so willing to stand up for what she wants and believes in, which I really admire. The plot is pretty basic and I've definitely seen this kind of story before, but like I said, it's just fun. The romance isn't really in the forefront of the story and I don't mind too much because I can't say I'm a big fan of either love interest. Neither left any strong feelings. The ending left the story wide open and I'm interested to see where the second book goes!
Date published: 2017-11-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Victorian England suspense and teen fiction action. Set in 1882, Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas’s ‘These Vicious Masks’ is a fast-paced mystery adventure. The story revolves around two sisters, Evelyn and Rose. When Evelyn discovers that Rose has vanished, this pushes her out of her comfort zone and forces her to confront parts of herself that she has kept hidden. When I started this book, I was expecting Jane Austen with a little twist of mystery (and of course a little more action). In reality, the book details ‘powers’ possessed by the characters – and not your everyday powers! Through her search for Rose, Evelyn discovers that she has a power that she didn’t know about and that her sister also had a power that causes her to remember her in a different light. During her search, Evelyn comes across others who also have powers. Two of them, Sebastian and Nicholas, end up forming the other parts to a love triangle along with Evelyn. Now, I’m not a fan of the use of the love triangle in books, but in this one, I liked that the authors didn’t waste a lot of time on angst but I didn’t like that there wasn’t a resolution to the triangle. To be fair though, I think the door was left open in the event of a sequel. What I really enjoyed about the book was how well the authors described certain themes such as feeling different from everyone around you and therefore alone. This sort of theme definitely resonates with young adult readers. Also, there was a theme about rebelling against the expected and I thoroughly embraced that idea. The book had many twists and turns but I wasn’t on the edge of my seat. Also, while I liked the authors’ writing styles, in certain ways you can tell that this is a debut novel (although if you go by its caliber, you can expect excellent follow-ups). Note: just saw online that this will be a trilogy which helps to clear up why I thought the ending was unfinished – the next book comes out in the winter of 2017. Disclaimer: I’m an Indigo employee and I was gifted with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A book bigger than romance set in the 1800s. 4.5 Stars The one thing I love most about this book is, it proves that not every story featuring a strong female protagonist needs to fall in love to kick ass. Here's the thing: I did ship Evelyn with Nicholas and Sebastian. I did want her to choose between the two if it came down to being the only thing left in her life that would give her some kind of happiness because, in my opinion, both men liberated her from a life she never wanted to have but was imposed onto her by the reputation of the prestigious family that she was born into. Regardless, the liberation provided by both Sebastian and Nicholas was admirably delightful, especially for the time era in which this novel was set in. I saw romance in her liberation because, in my opinion, if there is to be any kind of healthy romance in this world, it is in liberation. So, where I see a woman/man treating another woman/man with a liberating atmosphere and attitude whilst also providing an aura of admiration like one which a crush does to her's/his' crush, I see a healthy bond, like the one I saw, and still foresee, forming between both Evelyn and Nicholas, as well as, Evelyn and Sebastian. Aside from that, the bond between the siblings and the need to protect one's own family, even if from each other on occasion, was truly believable, and something I profoundly understood on a personal level. If it came down to it, I will burn the world down and dig my siblings out of the ashes if they are ever kidnapped or taken away from me for the rest of my life. Another thing I loved about this was simply the strong will that flourished with every passing hour within Evelyn's mind. Regardless of the webs that were spun in front of her, truths unearthed and absurd ideas revealed, regardless of her shock, surprise and need for a relaxing, hot bath, she fought. She is one stubborn, arrogant, angry woman who doesn't care if she is on the brink of death while setting out to retrieve who or what is rightfully hers. She reminds me a little of myself.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Better than I thought! *I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review* This was a whirlwind of drama / action/ sci-fy / and romance that I loved! It was not at all what I was expecting, I didn't think there would be "powers" in this book as I don' think I have read any other sci-fy that was set in the past. I found it really engaging and interesting in how the authors combined the societal roles of the 1880s with the independence of a modern protagonist and threw some superpowers in to make it interesting! Some parts were a little too much for me, they seemed a bit far fetched in how the powers were used but all in all I liked the writing style and plot of this book. I'm looking forward to the next one!
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from X-men meets Victorian London! When I first received this novel, I was skeptic as to whether Victorian history and super powers would blend well together. I am happy to report that the theme combination was done flawlessly and nothing seemed the slightest bit out of place! I really enjoyed the main heroine, Evelyn. One aspect that I loved about her is that she was never described in depth; but rather the author let us focus on her quick wit and humour. This encourages readers to embrace the thought that looks are not an important aspect towards creating an inspiring protagonist! This novel also questions whether the life of one person is more important than millions of lives, or vice versa. If hurting one individual can benefit the greater good, should that pain be celebrated as science? Food for thought.
Date published: 2016-10-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Jane Austen meets X-Men When Evelyn's beloved sister Rose mysteriously vanishes in the dead of night, she knows something must be terribly wrong. Rose may have left a note behind telling her not to worry, but Evelyn knows her sister would never suddenly leave home like that. Her parents refuse to believe Rose was abducted, and even if they did, they still wouldn't act. The Wyndham family is on the edge of ruin, and the sisters can't afford to let scandal touch their names. Evelyn isn't going to let anything stop her from finding Rose—not her parents, and certainly not her reputation. Rose is more than Evelyn's sister, she's also her best friend. Gentle, kind, and an aspiring doctor, Rose brings out the best in everyone, even in headstrong, stubborn Evelyn. Grand balls and eligible suitors mean nothing to Evelyn, not when Rose isn't by her side, commiserating together as their mother hunts for a suitable gentleman for her daughters. Accompanied by the charming Mr. Kent and reclusive Mr. Braddock, Evelyn's search takes her to the seedier side of London, a dangerous place for a genteel lady. While she's grateful to Mr. Kent for helping her without a second thought, she's much more distrustful of Mr. Braddock's reasons for wanting to find Rose too. Mr. Braddock believes Evelyn and her sister have special healing powers, and that they're not alone in possessing extraordinary gifts... Jane Austen meets X-Men really is the perfect way to describe Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas' These Vicious Masks! Stolen kisses, witty banter, and a wild adventure across Victorian London cement These Vicious Masks as a memorable, fun read. Mr. Kent and Mr. Braddock are as opposite as night and day, but I think they'll both find a way to steal your heart. If you love YA historical fiction with a touch of romance and the paranormal, then I'd highly recommend adding this YA debut to your TBR! Please, Swoon Reads, say there will be a sequel! I need it.
Date published: 2016-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome read! Heart-pounding, heart-stopping, heart-breaking. These Vicious Masks is a thrilling read that takes you by the hand and whisks you along for the ride. If anyone needs to talk about THAT ENDING, you know where to find me. Get your swooning couch ready and read this book!
Date published: 2016-03-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really Interesting Story! Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. So I really enjoyed this one. I love anything that resembles Jane Austen because Jane Austen is my homegirl (I wonder how she would feel about being called that). And I mean my phone case has a picture of Kitty Pryde on it so I think we all know that I love the X-Men. And that is what really sold me to even try this one out was the tagline that it is Jane Austen meets X-Men. And it does deliver on that front. But there is something almost missing from this one for me. I loved that Evelyn hated society and that her friend Laura unapologetically loved it. I thought it was nice to see both sides of the spectrum and I am glad that Evelyn never faulted Laura for her love of society or wanting to properly fit in. Evelyn had her reservations about it but she didn't project that onto Laura and let her make her own decisions, even if she didn't necessarily agree with them. I also really liked that the prose didn't constantly remind you that they were in Victorian London. There were some things overtly stated to set the location and time period (like discussing women being unaccompanied, etc.) but this didn't detract from the story. I find that a lot of YA historical fiction try to "remind" you that you are in a different time period but I didn't have that issue with this one. I also liked our two love interests. I am NOT a fan of the Mr. Darcy trope but I do think that Sebastian was well written. I think my problem with the bit at 60%-70% was that it was Sebastian's friends telling Evelyn to just give him a chance and I wasn't chill with that. Evelyn should be able to form her own opinion of Sebastian based on the information he has provided and he never once tried to explain himself to her. Like, PSA to all men out there: just be honest. That's good enough. I loved Nick though. He was unabashedly himself and while he did some questionable things, he was at least honest about them. I liked the plot a lot too. I thought it made logical sense: people would obviously want to test these people with extraordinary abilities and see what makes them tick. I just would have liked a bit more action in the front half and less society in the second. I think that up until about 60% it had really good pacing but then there was a lull and I found it a bit difficult to get back into the swing of things at the end. But overall, it was extremely well written. I think this is going to be a big one. I think there is so much good in this one that there will even be a sequel (nudge, nudge, let's get one of those please). I ALSO LOVED THAT THE LAST CHARACTER INTRODUCED HAS KITTY'S POWERS.
Date published: 2016-02-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superpowers and Sass!!!!! I am going to try to control my gushy feelings for this book for this review but please excuse me if it turns all mushy and fangirly. I have been waiting for this book since forever and it was everything I wanted and hoped for. Well, maybe it needs just a bit more swoons but seriously, These Vicious Masks slayed! The captivating storyline, curious society and kickass characters with supernatural powers had me caught inside the world. "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 mask after mask, layers over layers. That's how one grows." (ARC, p.190). YES! This is utter perfection. It so fully encompasses humanity and captures how there is always more than meets the eye. We are all alike but so different at the same time. I love Evelyn! Her sarcasm, her sense of humour is the best! She has the perfect balance of snark and wit to make every thing that comes out of her mouth interesting and funny. I just want her to keep talking! Not a particularly well-mannered lady but I think Evelyn's classy in a nonchalant way. Her personality and demeanour doesn't make her a proper lady in society's eyes but she's totally my type of heroine. Evelyn uses her head and doesn't like anyone deter her from her goal: finding her sister. Willing to venture into less than tasteful places and putting herself in danger's way, her love for her sister is non-comparable. I admire all her qualities, especially the unladylike ones ;) These Vicious Masks wouldn't be a swoon read if I didn't talk about Evelyn's two suitors. Not to be biased but let's start with my favourite! 1. Mr. Braddock is the tortured lone figure. He's broody but for all the right reasons. There's this electricity (for real) between him and Evelyn. I am 100% loving it. They're not very fond of each other at the beginning but really their animosity just added an extra layer of swoons for me. That theatre scene! It was kind of random and abrupt but I ate it up. *heart eyes* Mr. Braddock has some dark demons to fight but I am totally rooting for him to come out the winning side. 2. Mr. Kent is the perfect gentleman. (So far at least.) It's more than obvious he has his eyes set on Evelyn but he doesn't push or prod her into having any type of relationship with him. He's a little too charming for me to completely trust but his honest and sweet confession/declaration had me cheering a tiny bit for him. His dedication makes me feel there's hope yet for him. The romance is a love triangle but one that seems to have direction. Evelyn does make it clear in her thoughts that she seems to have more feelings for one guy than the other. I will be anxiously awaiting to see how these feelings will blossom because they better bloom bright! I really enjoyed the unique powers some of the characters possessed. It was surprising to find out who had powers and how these powers worked. Some were subtle but some were just outright extraordinary. The story has several gut-twisting moments so do prepare yourselves. While I wasn't particularly fond of some turnouts, the potential is endless as evidenced in the ending. The hint at something far more sinister has my skin crawling but boy am I ever excited! I was very upset when the book ended. I just...I need moreeeeeee! With endless banter, constant action, These Vicious Masks did not disappoint! It has definitely made its way into my top favourites of 2016. I will be keeping a sharp eye out for any news on the sequel because These Vicious Masks deserves all the attention!
Date published: 2016-02-22

Editorial Reviews

"Striking a strong balance between romance and mystery, this novel captures society's rules just as well as it does the unbelievable powers of the main characters. Readers will easily be swept up in its fast pace and sympathetic narrator, who is filled with both self-doubt and resolve to do anything to protect those she loves. This is a perfect pick for someone who wants a little magic in their Victorian novels, and its combination of historical fiction and mysticism will remind readers of Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy." -Booklist"This tale has brisk pacing, plenty of action, and a heroine with more than her fair share of girl-power confidence." -School Library Journal"This is a great read, compelling and addictive. Well written and great character development you cannot stop reading. I was spellbound from the beginning and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey!" -Sue Speakman, Swoon Reader"My favorite thing about this book is the dialogue. The authors intricately composed period-style phrasing with a modern-day wit that is incredibly nuanced and thoughtful - very well done. I was successfully transported by the characters in a way that rivaled my indulgence in Harry Potterland." -Cayla O'Connell, Swoon Reader"So much fun! Like a story by one of the Bronte sisters or Jane Austen, except the characters are much more self-aware and genre-savvy." -Duncan Pflaster, Swoon Reader"I need book two!! Where is book two?? This sucked me in right away (it was a terrible idea to start reading on a break at work - I could barely bring myself to go back to work) and kept me engaged the whole way through. Some really great characters. (Also any book that mentions self-defenestration wins). But seriously, can I read book two now??" -Erin Keskeny, Swoon Reader