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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.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
May Contain Spoilers Thank you to XpressoTours for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review and the opportunity to host the blog tour! I have read the other two books in this trilogy THESE VICIOUS MASKS and THESE RUTHLESS DEEDS and loved them both! Ending are always something that makes me nervous in books. Will I like it? Will all most questions get answers? Will my favorite characters die or end up happy? These are a lot of things that keep me from finishing a lot of series. This year though I am going to start finishing series/trilogies starting with this one. Evelyn, Rose, Sebastian, Mr.Kent and the rest of the gang are all still together and things start up right where the first one ended. We see the characters dealing with what happened at the end of These Ruthless Deeds, and how Evelyn and Sebastian are feeling guilty for what happened. The whole gang is now spread throughout the series because of what Captain Goode and the people he has on his side have done and what they continue to do throughout this whole book. Once the gang is back together after a bit of a struggle, we see them struggling to figure out how to stop Captain Goode and his people all without getting themselves caught by the general public. Sounds easy enough, but it's not because of how despicable Captain Goode is and how he will use any means necessary to try and stop Evelyn and her friends. Overall I loved this one just as much as the others. I couldn't put it down and read the whole thing in a little over a day. None of the characters had a massive change after what happened and instead they are more determined than ever to stop the Society and Captain Goode from what the have been doing. Evelyn is still out of blood and won't stop for anything to get that until some things get brought to her attention. Sebastian is still blaming himself for everything and thinks he is the worst. One thing that we hadn't seen before is how Rose's powers affect her ability to trust peoples opinion of her. Its something I hadn't thought of before, but it's a real problem for her, but she also learns how to use it for good. We also see the rest of the group working on their powers and bringing everything together to try and help Evelyn stop Captain Goode. I say Evelyn specifically because like the other two she is the main person willing to take the risks needed to stop him. She risks everything again and again and makes some not so smart decisions, but she has good intentions. I loved how two characters end up working together for a change. The ending while not exactly what I was hoping for it, does make sense considering everything. I am so so sad to see this trilogy ending and I cannot wait to marathon read this whole series soon. I cant' wait to see what Shanker and Zekas write in the future as I know it will be fantastical and great!
pooled ink Reviews: This book had me incredibly frustrated but undeniably captivated. I felt myself standing beside Evelyn calling for blood. Absolutely thrilling I was already charging ahead before the story could even attempt to cart me along, so ready was I for the action and resolution promised in this grand finale. I remain absolutely pleased with this series, from the first book to its stunning conclusion. It has the thrill of James Bond, the forbidden allure of the inexplicable, the composure of Jane Austen, and the fiery heart of a heroine who refuses to let sins go unpaid for. A deceivingly lovely prose that spins a tale of blackhearts, monsters, and revenge, THESE VENGEFUL SOULS concludes its story with a final hurrah that will leave you joyously satisfied. **Read the full review on Wordpress: Pooled Ink
This wasn't quite the finale that I was looking for, but it still a pretty good ending to a fantastic series. Even though I wasn't as pleased with this novel, this is still one of my most favorite series. It does everything brilliantly from fantastic characters, witty and ridiculously entertaining writing, and more. I think this book just suffered a bit from a couple of different things, but it still brought so many smiles to my face and still something I couldn't put down. The first thing that always gets me about these novels is the writing. I don't know how Shanker and Zekas do it, but they do it so seamlessly and brilliantly. It's fun, witty, and so easy to read. You're never confused, you're always entertained, and there's never anything in the novel that doesn't need to be in there. I will forever be reading anything by these two authors - whether it's them being their dynamic duo selves or them going solo. They actually make me laugh out loud, which is so very rare to do. Mr. Kent was just absolutely brilliant in this novel as well. He will forever go down as one of my favorite characters ever. He's right up there with my absolute love, Carswell Thorne. He is honestly everything that Oscar Wilde would ever want with a character, and CAN SOMEONE JUST GIVE HIM HIS OWN BOOK SO I CAN CRY AND FANGIRL OVER HIM FOR ETERNITY? pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I felt some of the other characters were a bit contrasting for me in this one. Evelyn has been one of my favorite heroines that I've ever read, but I felt like she was so consumed in this novel about revenge and murder that I lost a lot of the characteristics that I loved about her. She seemed so unlike the girl that I had read about in the prior two books, and she acted so rash and impulsively that I just sat there going, GIRL, CHILL. I felt she redeemed herself in quite a few instances, but I just felt a bit of a disconnect from her in this one. I felt the same issue with Mr. Braddock as well. The cast of characters continued to grow in this one, and while I loved a lot of them, I felt like since the cast was SO large, a lot of the deeper characterization got a bit lost. I mean, I knew who a lot of them were and really enjoyed them, I felt that I just felt swarmed by cool characters and I was just really overwhelmed by them. However, I really liked the more in-depth characterization we got with Catherine and A-Person-That-Can't-Be-Named-For-Spoilers, and I absolutely adored the romance that was brought between them. I also really enjoyed that person a lot more than I did in the prior book. Shanker and Zekas can create a fantastic side character, though, and there are so many people that I absolutely loved like the addition of Mr. Adeoti and the Tuffins, and Miss Chen, Emily, and Laura were fantastic as well. I also felt a bit confused about Goode's motivations. Like, I know he was bad and we had to stop him, but I was confused about why he was doing what he was doing. I just felt a bit lost, and I just wanted more from this villain. The plot was interesting as well for the most part. I was totally enraptured in some parts, but some times, I was a bit unclear what was going on. I mean, they were kind of just sitting around and going in circles. It thought there were just things happening, and I couldn't figure out what was the big end game besides murder?? The ending didn't feel as concrete as I wished it would be.
(I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.) I'm not sure how to properly convey how much I adore this trilogy. The characters are smart and sweet and flawed and relatable. The plot is engaging and timely. The relationships are real and heart-wrenching. As a conclusion to the trilogy, These Vengeful Souls is right on the money. Shanker and Zekas tie up most loose ends while teasing out some new threads so that the characters can live on in your heart. Evelyn is such a compelling heroine, both courageous and selfish, and I loved watching her grapple with her flaws in this book. The supporting cast is just as compelling, with all the brooding from Braddock and all the wit from Kent that you've come to expect and love. The budding romance between Catherine and Rose is also so unbearably sweet, my heart could barely take it. Get ready for a twisting, turning ride full of squees and sighs and book-flinging and maybe some tears. I was so thrilled to get an early copy of this book, but now I'm just envious of everyone who still gets to experience it for the first time.