Escaping From Houdini
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Genre: YA historical fiction
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.
But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?
This is the third book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series so If you haven’t read the previous books turn away! There wont be spoilers but it will spoil things for the previous books.
Last year Hunting Prince Dracula was one of my favourite books of the year. Escaping From Houdini is my most anticipated book of 2018. So you have no idea how excited I was when I received this ARC.
I really enjoyed Escaping From Houdini, it was fantastic but Hunting Prince Dracula is still my favourite. Lets hop into this review!
Its a never ending mystery set aboard a floating death trap.
Are you looking for something wicked to get swept away in? Are you searching for a twisted tale full of mystery, death and mysterious character? This is the book you’re looking for. The plot of the book is excellent, the story is fast paced and the way the story progresses keeps the air of mystery, the dark atmosphere, the tantalising pull of The Moonlight Carnival and it’s very easy to get swept away. I really appreciate how Kerri Maniscalco can paint such a dazzling setting making you feel like you’re there in the audience experiencing the terror and awe. The story picks up right where Hunting Prince Dracula left off, its a few days later and Audrey, Uncle Jonathan and Thomas Cresswell are aboard the RMS Eturia making their way to New York for a case.
Escaping From Houdini was mysterious, magical and a twisted ride. Between the sombre atmosphere of the ship, the Moonlight Carnival and a slough of deaths that took place the the book is very dark. And very dark is what i’m here for. The ship was an excellent setting because it limits the amount of space where things can happen like the murders and stolen moments, being out at sea adds a bit of a spooky atmosphere and the ship also has a lot of nooks and crannies where the murderer can hide, do the deeds and hide bodies. So much room for brutal activities.
Aboard the RMS Eturia brutal murders are plaguing the week long voyage. Luckily aboard the ship Audrey Rose, Uncle Jonathan and Thomas Cresswell are there to save the day.. maybe, if they don’t get killed in the process. The murders seem to be surrounded by The Moonlight Carnival with tarot cards and playing cards left at the scene of the crime, this seems like the logical explanation. Not to mention the carnival has numerous weapons, talented mysterious frightening people and an air of mystery.
My favourite thing about the book was obviously Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell. How can you not like these two? Audrey and Thomas are such an amazing team, they get each other, how each other works, how their brains work, and what they are thinking. They get each other deep down, they belong together. I went into this book expecting lots of swoony stolen moments between the two based on how the previous book left off and sadly I didn’t get as many as I would have liked. Don’t get me wrong there were a few but not a lot and that’s because of how the story developed.
Audrey Rose took an interesting turn in this book, she basically made a deal with the devil thinking she was doing the right thing while at the same time alienating poor Thomas and lying to everyone around her. She had a secret life in this book. There were several moments in this book where I wanted to shake Audrey and say “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” because her actions were so out of character and uncalled for.
Now lets get into the reason Audrey Rose became a different person. Aboard the Eturia there is a wicked wild show: The Moonlight Carnival. The Moonlight Carnival boasts a cast of magnificent, fearsome performers along with a mysterious, dark, dazzling masked Ringmaster. Oh the Ringmaster, causing SO MUCH trouble. The Ringmaster is all about pushing the limits of science and magic, he puts on the most spectacular terrifying shows that have the guests holding their breath and fearing for their lives and the lives of the performers. The Ringmaster is highly intelligent which makes him very intriguing to Audrey Rose, she’s amazed by how his brain works an the things he has accomplished. Can you smell trouble here? I sure can.
As the story progresses and the murders get more brutal and gruesome all fingers point to the dazzling mysterious Ringmaster however, Audrey Rose isn’t convinced and she believes someone else is causing all the havoc. At several points through the story there are many plausible and fitting characters for the role of the murderer so you don’t really have any idea who it really is. Once it’s revealed though and all the clues are laid out to you, you’ll be like “OMG, how did I not put that together”.
The only reason this wasn’t a five star rating was because of how the relationship between Audrey Rose and Thomas progressed, it wasn’t fitting with the direction the first two books took and was unexpected. I also wanted more snarky and witty Thomas moments, I felt like he didn’t have enough page time. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the ending but I am very excited to see how the ending changed in the finished copy. My fingers are crossed it takes the direction I want it to.
All in all, this was an amazing, captivating story. If you liked the first two you’ll love this, I highly recommend this series to everyone.
Cressworth will always be my number one OTP!