These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas Review



General Thoughts
Where fantasy and historical fiction collide, you have These Ruthless Deeds, the second novel in the These Vicious Masks series. I will admit, I did not read the first novel in the series. However, I did not truly need to. The authors did a marvelous job of letting the reader have a recap of the last novel's events without rehashing the entire book. I enjoyed this novel immensely, regardless of having a previous attachment to the series. As a lover of both historical fiction and fantasy, this had the makings to be a dream novel for me. While it was not perfect and fell flat of being a dream novel, it was definitely entertaining. One of the biggest quips for me is how the plot drug at times due to detailed descriptions of needless society interactions. There was, in particular, tons of descriptions of the clothing people were wearing. While I do understand this accompanies historical fiction, it detracted from the fantasy aspect of the novel and came across as useless fluff. The novel continues with the love triangle that was established in the first of the series. I typically detest love triangles, but this one did not detract from the plot thankfully. There was also a bit of a resolution to the triangle as well by the end. There was one major plot element involved with the ending I did not like. It nearly spoiled the novel for me. As a result, it bumped the novel from 4 stars down to 3. However, I am excited to read the final installment in the series to see how the cliffhanger is resolved.

Characters

Evelyn Wyndham
Evelyn, our MC and heroine, was back in full force in this novel. She is stubborn, vivacious, compassionate, and intelligent. That being said, she is fully blinded by her love of others at times as well as hindering relationships due to an innate distrust of others. As a whole, she is well-rounded due to having both true flaws and personality traits, as well as being dynamic. Until the end of the novel, she was a strong heroine who was true to herself

Mr. Kent
Mr. Kent was often used for comedic relief by making snarky comments, he was one side of the love triangle. He is a dynamic, vivacious character with a penchant for mischief. He is loyal and kind, incredibly protective over those he loves. He does have a habit of debauchery, but it is portrayed in a fun way versus a real issue. He is a dimensional character, but not fully well rounded due to lack of true flaws.

Sebastian Braddock
The other side of the love triangle, he is vastly different from the loveable, easy-going Mr. Kent. He is dark and brooding, being frequently compared to the romantic leads of gothic novels. Unfortunately, beyond the brooding and habit of running away, the reader only hears about his other personality trait: that he is kind. There is such little dialogue and interaction in this novel with him that it does not truly come across. As a result, he falls flat and comes across as a generic character.

Captain Goode/Mr. Redburn
Captain Good and Mr. Redburn are brothers and both have powers. They are introduced as new characters in this novel. The reader only receives rudimentary information on them. Captain Goode is characterized as loyal, generally good, and a stereotypical soldier. He is right below the head of the Society of Aberrations and must often act as a leader. Mr. Redburn is given even less personality traits and truly can only be described as impatient and cruel. Both brothers do have a strong love for each other. They are both flat and rather generic, particularly Mr. Redburn.

Lady Atherton/Lord Atherton
Lady Atherton is a shrewd and calculating woman. She is strong willed, an indomitable force with a penchant for cruelty. She was not well rounded, as the reader received limited information about her beyond her love of society and the rules that accompanies it. Lord Atherton is another character used for comedic relief, however it is because the reader is encouraged to laugh at him versus with him (like with Mr. Kent). His character is completely bland and dull. He is the human equivalent of mashed potatoes made with only water, absolutely no seasoning. He is flat, and the most exciting thing about him is his urge to be a meteorologist.

Antagonist Analysis (light spoilers)
The antagonist in These Ruthless Deeds is the mysterious head of the Society of aberrations. That person decides who to recruit and how the society is best run. Whomever it is tends to not hold back towards recruitment, making sure a person joins regardless of the means of having them say yes. They are not above ordering nefarious deeds to be completed by the lower members of the society. The antagonist appears infinitely more frightening when the identity is unknown. When the reader discovers the identity at the end, it ruins the illusion and any fear the head may have built.

Writing
The writing fit the historical aspect of the novel well. It was fluid and had almost a lyrical quality to it at times. The writing was rich with descriptions, particularly regarding clothing. There was not enough world building to support he fantasy aspect of the novel. While most readers are accustomed to London, this is a historical piece so more details could have been given in regards to the setting.

*Spoilers Ahead*

Romance
The love triangle is in full force in this novel. There is kissing with Mr. Kent, and pining looks along with missing clothing in regards to Sebastian. Thankfully, there was a resolution of sorts by the end of the novel. Mr. Kent recognized Evelyn loved him as a friend, but regardless of how she tried, she just lacked any romantic feelings towards him. He also acknowledged the chemistry between Evelyn and Sebastian. Sebastian is even able to admit he loves Evelyn and ends it with his supposed fiancée. The novel ends with Sebastian and Evelyn clinging on to one another, but not in a particularly romantic way. I hope that the next novel has actual relationship progression because it felt odd to me for them to love each other when so little time was actually spent together. I will admit, this could have been due to my lack of reading the first novel, so I missed out on relationship building.

Ending
That ending, holy hell. To know she was also under her sister's spell was heartbreaking. I understand why Rose would question every relationship in her life, and I am honestly shocked she went looking for Evelyn after she caused everyone to die on her behalf. It really ruined the novel for me. I truly wanted the sister bond to be true, for Evelyn to love Rose as her sister not because her powers forced her to. Every interaction, down to her mourning, felt tainted after that. I am also curious how the next novel will even work with majority of the character's being dead. The only survivors are Mr. Kent, Emily, Laura, Catherine, Rose, Evelyn, and Sebastian. That makes majority of the secondary characters deceased. I hope they explore how it plays on Evelyn's conscience and if she recognizes her actions are due to Rose's power. She does need to acknowledge that at some point, as well as stopping blaming Captain Goode solely.





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