Authors: Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
Genre: historical fiction. supernatural, romance
Series: These Vicious Masks #2
Published: expected March 14 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.
As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears...
Early last year, These Vicious Masks was a surprise hit for me and many other YA readers; it was an excellent series beginning with imagination and originality. Though verging on the shorter side, it and its sequel have managed to be great mixes of the supernatural and the historical with fast-paced and twisty plots. They are not perfect, but they are very entertaining. Like These Vicious Masks before it, These Ruthless Deeds was a fun, funny, actiontastic romp of a read, featuring some truly excellent and memorable characters. For the second time in two years, dual authors Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas have concocted a whirlwind plot for their intrepid cast to weather to various degrees of success.
There's imagination aplenty to be found in this sequel; these two authors have a unique version of history/the world and use that vision creatively and expansively. The action may be somewhat toned down in Evelyn's second novel, but there's plenty afoot to keep her and the characters busy and readers invested. Evelyn remains a lively and interesting point of view for both her station and her abilities; a strong main character with power and relateability. She has changed a lot over the course of both novels; she's accepted herself and her power, but that doesn't mean her character evolution is complete. The romance(s) of the previous novel are once again on display here, though less overt and less central to the main plot of the story and to Evelyn herself.
I enjoyed Evelyn and Mr. Kent as always, but there were several new characters introduced and older characters that were used less. I appreciated the various new angles introduced with the Society of Aberrations but some of the cast camaraderie from book one was lost because of it. I really missed the humor in These Ruthless Deeds. Book one was hilarious -- I lol'd THREE TIMES in the first 100 pages -- and there's very little of that in these three hundred and twenty pages. There's very little of substance happening here at all, tbh. I enjoyed it overall because of the affection I have for the characters. The plot was admittedly minimal and feels inconsequential at the close of the story. Sequel syndrome strikes again!
Though it was not a perfect sequel, These Ruthless Deeds is still a fun and imaginative read for fans of the first novel. It suffers a bit for being the bridge book in a series of three, but readers who enjoy secret societies, powers, and/or Regency historical reads will find a new niche read.