ARC · book reviews · Kelly Zekas · Tarun Shanker · these ruthless deeds · ya · young adult

These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

theseruthlessdeeds

“There is a system. There are rules. Do you abandon all of London society when you disagree with a single rule?”
I have been known to do that.”
Thank you very much to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Swoon Reads, and Netgalley for providing a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

If These Vicious Masks was an impressive novel, These Ruthless Deeds is an exceptional one. I don’t think it is possible for me to fault the novel in anyway. The storyline is fast and intriguing, the characters lovable and entertaining, and the writing flawless. I think I spot a new favourite series on the horizon!

Evelyn Wyndham is still recovering from a devastating loss, but she is determined to use her newfound powers to help other gifted people. Accompanied by her former governess, the dashing Mr. Kent, and a loyal gifted teenager, Evelyn and her friends attempt to save a telekinetic girl, but find themselves indebted to the secret society that kidnapped her sister. The Society of Aberrations convinces Evelyn that they had nothing to do with what happened to her sister, and that they are want only to recruit and protect other gifted individuals. As Evelyn begins to work for the Society by healing the sick and embarking on dangerous missions, she finds that her problems have disappeared. Her tattered reputation is repaired, her parents suddenly become wealthy, and her friends are protected. But Evelyn is still suspicious, even more so when she begins questioning the Society and their rules, and they respond through violent means.

“You play at altruism, Miss Wyndham … What you don’t understand if that you don’t just ‘help people.’ Any choice to help someone, hurts someone else. You want to help Britain? Then hurt Egypt. You want to heal someone? Then you leave someone else in pain, waiting.”

These Ruthless Deeds ups the tension and drama by a tenfold. The plot was engaging and well-thought out, to the point that I was perched on the edge of my seat as I devoured the novel in one sitting. What stood out immediately was the growth of world-building. The Society of Aberrations described the long history of gifted individuals and how they secretly work for the British government and had been for centuries. I loved learning about the Society, their history, and the hierarchy within the organisation. Shanker and Zekas were so thorough in the development of their fantasy world; it was beyond impressive and left me wanting to know more.

We were introduced to a lot of new characters in These Ruthless Deeds, as well as encountering many beloved ones from These Vicious Masks. I will admit to something embarrassing: I squealed like a fan-girl when Mr. Kent came onto the page. I think it is safe to say I have dubbed him a book boyfriend – he has now joined the same league as Rhys from ACOTAR and Jace from the Mortal Instruments. Mr. Kent was a remarkable character: incredibly funny, charming, and so loyal to Evelyn. Even during the tense fighting scenes, he still managed to leave me in stitches.

“Before I met you, I went to brothels, gambling halls, scandalous music halls, all sorts of indecent places.”
“And let me guess, ever since you met me, you’ve changed?”
[Mr. Kent] shook his head. “No, I just want to do these indecent things with you.”

Mr. Braddock was a delight, albeit a big brooding one. The chemistry between him and Evelyn was so tangible, I almost blushed (and that is saying something when the book is set in Victorian London and the most a couple can do is hold hands). I felt so much for Sebastian, and I want him to get his deserved happy ending, but, like in These Vicious Masks, I was once again torn between the two alluring love interests. Who do I prefer, Sebastian or Nicholas? I don’t know.

I said, I DON’T KNOW. Please don’t make me choose!!

You can expect Evelyn to have one hell of a decision on her hands regarding her romantic life, which took a backseat to the issues surrounding the clandestine Society. Evelyn is fast becoming one of my favourite female YA characters, and an exceptional role model. For a woman trapped within the constraints of Victorian society, Evelyn frequently spoke her mind and was unabashedly independent. She was strong, touchingly kind, and highly spirited; she adored her family and, even when she disagreed with her marriage-minded mother, Evelyn still attempted to do right by them. Evelyn’s character developed steadily and admirably from a headstrong girl to a powerful, gifted woman. I am still in awe of her character.

“If you don’t wish me to think of you as some kind of tragic Gothic figure, you really must stop acting like one.”

As I read the novel, I, along with many other readers, thought I knew where the story was going, but I was so wrong and you will be, too. The last quarter of the book, specifically the last five or so chapters, featured some of the most shocking and incredible scenes I have ever read, especially in YA fiction. Can someone inform Swoon Reads that the ending of this book is not very … swoony? Do they know what they published? I mean, the book is glorious, but not at all like the few other Swoon Reads books I have read. I must be honest, I am glad that’s the case, because the book is so refreshing and unique compared to many other YA books being published at the moment.

These Ruthless Deeds is everything the title suggests: it is ruthless, but the synergy between Shanker and Zekas allows the novel to be so much more. It is a romance, a suspense, a comedy, a fantasy, an adventure … it is everything I love in YA books and more and I cannot wait for the third and final book in this amazing series.

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4.5 stars

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