Evelyn and her friends face ever greater dangers as they navigate tense battles, stunning revelations, and the limits of their own powers in this epic final novel in the These Vicious Masks trilogy.
England, 1883. On the run with the grieving Sebastian Braddock, Evelyn wants two things: to be reunited with her friends, and to get revenge on the evil Captain Goode. Not only has he misused his and Sebastian’s powers to rack up a terrible death toll, but he's also completely destroyed any hope of Evelyn or her friends regaining the life they once knew.
Evelyn is determined to make Captain Goode pay for what he's done, but is her revenge worth risking the lives of Sebastian and her friends? Or is it better to flee the city and focus on staying alive? And with the Captain spreading lies about Sebastian in an attempt to flush them out of hiding and turn the populace against them, does she even have a choice at all?
You won’t want to miss These Vengeful Souls, the thrilling conclusion to the These Vicious Masks trilogy by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas from Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads.
Praise for the These Vicious Masks trilogy:
These Ruthless Deeds:
"Utter brilliance." BookCrushin
"It is a romance, a suspense, a comedy, a fantasy, an adventure." thebookcorps
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
About the Author
Kelly Zekas, a New York University graduate, writes, acts, and reads in New York City. YA is her absolute favorite thing on earth (other than cupcakes), and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possible too-early age (twelve?) and still loves a good historical romance.
Mild-mannered assistant by day, milder-mannered writer by night, Tarun Shanker is a New York University graduate currently living in Waltham, MA. 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.
Together, they are the authors of These Vicious Masks and These Ruthless Deeds.
Read an Excerpt
"MY MA'S LANDLORD was there! She swears it were a man with glowing red eyes that burnt them alive!"
The city was still full of talk of the ball three days later.
We had already heard two arguments the day prior about who could have committed such crimes. The French were suggested, but, more disturbingly, so were unnatural people with unnatural gifts. The Queen was even planning to make a rare public appearance to quell the panic. Which, of course, only made the rumors grow more outlandish.
"And the only part he didn't burn were his victims' eyes. He left 'em behind as a warning. A ballroom full of ashes and eyes!" I resisted the urge to reach out and smack the loudly arrogant fool trying to convince his companions. I did not know if it was my paranoia or if London really was bubbling over with suspicion and fear of something more than human responsible for the crime. But either way, I knew I'd feel safer if we found our friends soon.
The air was still and almost warm, but Sebastian and I huddled together as we walked toward Hyde Park Corner, faces down, hoping to draw little attention. The streets were filled with the usual morning crowds — the ton in carriages on their way to Rotten Row, bakers finishing the last of their morning sales, young men on their way to apprentice and clerkships. Nothing inherently suspicious, but I remained full of dread. I glanced up every few feet and everywhere I looked, I saw a potential threat, a potential ally of Captain Goode's waiting for us, waiting to finish the job started at the ball.
We were almost at the park when Sebastian stopped midstep, jerking me back. I turned to see what had finally arrested his attention after these three days. The answer was pastries.
In the dusty window of a pastry shop, a police notice was posted for a tall, dark-haired, high-cheekboned young man last seen fleeing from the scene of the Belgrave Ball three nights earlier.
A sketch of Sebastian's face filled the page, a caricature made of his deep-set eyes and thin lips. He looked vicious, monstrous. But he was still recognizable. A lump filled my throat, and I swallowed it down like a stone. In all my worries about Captain Goode and in the rumors flying across the city, I hadn't thought that the police would be looking for Sebastian. I surveyed the street. One, two, three, four, five of the notices decorated building walls and lampposts, and those were just what I could see from where I stood. Which likely meant hundreds if not thousands were plastered across the city.
"Why, it's ... it's ridiculous," I said shortly, looking between Sebastian and the warrant that looked too much like him. Why didn't he have a scarf he could pull up over his face? A hat to pull down? The man didn't even have a blasted hat to wear!
I turned him to me and pulled the collar of his coat up around his ears, wishing for the hundredth time that he was less tall and striking. He did not respond, did not look nervous, just utterly defeated.
"We will find our friends." I stared at him, willing him to believe it. "We will find our friends, find Captain Goode, and make him confess."
He still said nothing. I continued walking, gathering his arm in mine and pulling him down slightly so he was hunched over, hopefully disguising him somewhat.
"The plan is still the same," I said, wondering why I was even bothering. Sebastian did not notice, let alone care, what I was saying.
My eyes darted around till I felt almost sick. My heart was beating uncomfortably by the time we reached the park entrance. Any person could stop and notice Sebastian, could cause a scene and ruin everything.
As soon as was possible, we turned off to smaller paths, winding quickly toward the south. "Good morning," a male voice said. A well-dressed stranger approached us on the path, tipping his tall hat. Was his scarf tied a little too tightly? Did his eyes linger too long?
"I — Good morning," I muttered back, tightening my hold on Sebastian's arm. I tensed as the man passed us by, my lips painfully caught between my teeth until I realized he wasn't here for us.
"They will come today," I said, eyeing the sword of the Achilles statue ahead. "Catherine and Mr. Kent will see the Agony Column and know what it means."
Sebastian's arm moved slightly then, and I realized I was still gripping it far too tightly. I began to slip my arm from his to stretch my stiff fingers, but he reached out and clutched my hand. Even with our powers returned to their normal levels, he refused to put any distance between us. I turned to catch his eyes on mine, as bleak and broken as a dead tree in winter. His tongue darted out and wiped the smallest drop of blood from his chapped lips.
I squeezed again, leaving my aching fingers in his. His breath warmed my skin slightly, his head so near my shoulder. How tired he must be. How tired we both were.
The statue of Lord Byron loomed ahead, fittingly, in such a remote corner of the park. Surrounded by trees, Byron sat high above us, chin held arrogantly in his hand, passing judgment on those of us who dared to continue living after he and his brilliance had passed on.
Cautiously, we approached. Sebastian's eyes did not seem to see anything, but mine were straining to look for signs of danger and signs of hope. The only figure I could make out was an older man smoking on a bench some distance away. There was a carriage on the road just outside of the park but not another soul in sight. Damn and double damn. As grateful as I might be that no one was here to spot Sebastian and accuse him of the murders, it was yet another blow that our friends were not here to meet us. I needed to see my sister, needed it more than I needed to breathe.
A slight breeze provoked a chill, and as I pulled my cloak tighter, I chanced a quick glance behind me and felt my hopes fall even further. Two men were on the path behind us, one with a tall hat. The man who had greeted us not five minutes ago.
"We're being followed," I told Sebastian, tightening my grip. I veered us north on a path away from the Byron statue.
He said nothing.
"We have to go," I said, filling in his side of the conversation. We had to get them off our trail before returning. We couldn't lead them to our only meeting place. I prayed we hadn't already given away the secret with that brief pause.
Steering Sebastian down another path, I continued to sneak looks behind us. Our pursuers had increased their pace. Wonderful.
Why, oh why, had I chosen a statue in Hyde Park of all places! The entire point of Hyde Park was to see and be seen. And now it was going to get Sebastian arrested.
And suddenly, our luck got even worse. For entering the park from the opposite direction of our two pursuers was a pair of policemen, their proud, bright uniforms gleaming in the morning sun.
As they quickly closed in, I could make out a sheaf of police notices held in one man's hand.
"Oh blast. Oh blast," I muttered, trying to calculate my options. Could we duck off the path and run? But the murmurs behind me were equally suspicious and growing louder. I chanced another look behind — the man in the hat was indeed pointing at Sebastian. And now we were coming up on the policemen. The only saving grace was that they were not paying us any attention whatsoever. If Sebastian wasn't going to help (and he wasn't), it was up to me to decide. And I decided to brazen it out.
Just before we crossed paths with the police, I reached for something absurd to say and pulled out the catty purr of the worst debutantes I had encountered during my Season.
"It's simply terrible, John! She copied my hat entirely! I had not even worn it yet! Can you imagine such a horrid creature to treat me so? And I considered her my greatest friend! You know how I feel about my haberdashery!"
Sebastian did not pay my change in character any mind, but most important, neither did the police as they continued past us.
Safe, for now. I continued my nonsense for another second in case they turned their ears to us, but I also moved us forward at a quicker pace, increasing the distance between us.
"You! Wait!" The shout came from behind us at just the right moment for the police to have crossed by the suspicious men following us. Blast and damn and bloody damn.
We kept moving, exiting the park where the police entered, crossing the street to a narrower, empty one. I chattered about something earnestly at Sebastian, hoping maybe the men were yelling for someone else out there. But their boots clicked determinedly closer and closer, echoing off the brick buildings around us. Should we run? Or pretend to know nothing? Play mute? No, they had already heard me speak.
"Oy!" A hand reached out and turned Sebastian around, swinging me with him.
"Well, I never!" I twittered, fluttering my hand nervously. "What on earth is the meaning of ..."
But they weren't paying attention to my babble. Their eyes were only on Sebastian. One of them was pulling a club out cautiously.
"You're the one, aren't you?" he spoke up, taking a brave step toward us. "Killed a lot of people, we hear."
"Just come quiet," the other said. "Don't want your lady to g —"
I didn't wait for him to finish. I seized Sebastian's hand, yanked him in the other direction, and felt myself anchored. One of them had grabbed Sebastian, and the other one was striking from behind with his club.
Sebastian winced and struggled against their hold, but he refused to fight back, to hurt anyone else. I held on to his hand as long as I could, our fingers turning white with strain, but one of the policemen struck his arm, and Sebastian lost hold. They pulled him away and shackled his hands behind his back. He looked helplessly at me, confusion and panic flitting across his features, the first emotions I'd seen from him in days. His power would overwhelm these men, and he knew it.
"Stop it! He's terribly dangerous!" I shouted.
Sebastian was moaning, wriggling hard to free himself as they dragged him away and the distance between us widened. My mind scrambled to think of what to do. Unfortunately, violence was at the forefront of my thoughts. I flung myself at one of the policemen, slapping him solidly across the face. My palm went numb for a second, then prickles of pain bloomed across it.
"We're both terribly dangerous. Arrest me, too," I yelled in the shocked silence.
The policeman pushed me away, and I immediately latched on to Sebastian. The man looked at his companion, a sneer on his face as they both began to laugh. "She says she's dangerous!"
"The little lady!"
Which was ridiculous. I wasn't little at all.
And less and less a lady.
I threw myself at them again, this time with dagger fan in hand. The blade sliced deep into an arm, and the smaller man recoiled back in surprise. "She stabbed me!"
"It ... it was a stab to help you!" I argued back.
Ignoring my poor reasoning, the other policeman pulled out his club to strike me, but Sebastian slammed his shoulder into the man's gut, throwing them both off balance.
My hand found Sebastian's jacket, and I pulled him to me. "Run."
And run we did, a whole five steps.
"Stop there!" A huge policeman stepped out from an alleyway, triumphantly blocking our path. He held up a policeman's club, but it was his sheer bulk and his eager crouch that bothered me more. Sebastian and I were both dazed and weary from the fight, little sleep, and less food, while the policeman looked ready to pounce. I doubted we could slip by him. I doubted even more that Sebastian wanted to risk hurting him.
"Harrison!" The other two officers were back on their feet, trapping us from the other side.
"See, I told you it works. Wait off to the side and then catch them off guard!" Harrison smiled proudly at the other two. "They never suspect a third."
A gun cocked loudly behind the big policeman. "By God, you're right; they never do."
A man appeared behind Harrison and pressed the muzzle into his head. He wore the most hideous hat I'd ever seen, a bushy mustache, and pince-nez. He didn't look familiar, but that voice, equal parts silky and cutting, I'd recognize anywhere.
"Mr. ... Kent," I managed to gasp out.
"Mr. Lent," he corrected with a pointed look. He pulled the policeman back into the alleyway. "Now, all of you come in here and join your friend."
Once we followed him in, he nudged his hostage forward with his gun. Harrison slipped past us and stood in front of his partners. They whispered something to one another.
"I didn't hear that," Mr. Kent said. "What did you say?" "I said we could charge you at once because you can't shoot all three of us," Harrison admitted.
"Oh Lord, why'd you tell him?" the mustached officer groaned.
"I don't know."
"Officers, let me tell you what you will do. One of you is going to come over here and gently uncuff this man, then you'll let us be on our way, while you return to your station and tell your superior that a Captain Simon Goode is truly responsible for the Belgrave Ball."
"I liked my suggestion better," Harrison replied.
"But my suggestion doesn't involve the three of you having your darkest secrets revealed to the public," Mr. Kent said, waggling his eyebrows. They didn't look convinced. Mr. Kent gestured to the stout officer. "You, what is your darkest secret?"
"My father couldn't afford to keep his bakery because he owed too much money, so I told him to purchase insurance for the shop, and then one night I got a barrel of kerosene by robbing a local factory owner who was —"
"You committed arson and fraud, yes?" Mr. Kent interrupted.
"All right, that's plenty, thank you. Now come over here slowly and remove this man's handcuffs." Mr. Kent kept his gun on the officer as he meekly stepped forward and unlocked Sebastian's restraints. Mr. Kent looked to the mustached officer. "And what is the abridged version of your darkest secret?"
"I have been unfaithful to my wife," he said, looking shocked and ashamed.
"Fitz!" Harrison exclaimed. "How could you do that to Mary?"
"I ... It was a foolish mistake," Fitz said remorsefully.
"It certainly was," Mr. Kent said. "I'll do my best to make sure poor Mary doesn't find out. Now you, tall one, what is your darkest secret?"
"I once lied to a man and said his hat looked very good when in fact it did not."
"Oh Lord, you're one of those," Mr. Kent said, rolling his eyes. "Fine, what question would be the most damaging one to ask you?"
"Which of my friends I like more," the officer answered, his eyes nervously flitting to the other two officers.
Mr. Kent let out a faint snort. "Good. Handcuff yourselves to one another and start walking toward the northwest corner of the park, and I won't tear apart your friendship. Though, dammit, now I can't help but be a little curious. I like that Fitz's mustache but —" "Mr. Lent," I said, backing away to our escape.
"Fine, fine," Mr. Kent said. He eyed the policemen threateningly. "But remember: Do what I said. Or Lent ... will give you up."
He allowed a moment for the threat to sink in, then slipped the gun into his coat and turned on his heel to lead the way out.
"Thank you, Mr. Kent," I said.
"I've been saving that one for you two," he replied.
"Truly," I said. I wanted to tell him my thank-you was not for the horrible quip but for the rescue and for ... well, being alive. I didn't quite know how to say that.
He seemed to figure it out anyway and gave me a sad sort of smile. The bravado fell from his face, and I could see the grief and exhaustion the last few days had wrought on him. "Of course." He eyed us both for a long moment, lingering on Sebastian, then cutting to me. I nodded at his unasked questions: Yes, Sebastian was in a very bad way. No, I did not know how to snap him out of this.
Except by murdering Captain Goode in thirty-six ways.
"Come." Mr. Kent clapped his hands together bracingly. He led us out of the alley to an idling carriage and opened the door for us.
I shook my head. "No, we still have to wait for —"
Excerpted from "These Vengeful Souls"
Copyright © 2018 Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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