Title: Escaping from Houdini
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books
Source: ARC (Thank you, JP Books!)
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?
If you know me, you’ll know that I have been a huge fan of Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series since I read the first book back in 2016. This book was absolutely no different. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the third instalment, Escaping from Houdini and it’s safe to say that I fell in love all over again with Kerri’s addictive murder mysteries. There’s just something about Kerri’s books that I can’t help but fall in love with.
I am obviously a big fan of history (being a History graduate and all) but I have also discovered in recent times that I also have a thing for murder mysteries. This book has both in the form of a fantastic Victorian-era murder mystery novel.
I would just like to note before going into this review that the ending of the ARC is different to that of the finished copy, so I will try to be relatively vague in my review as I haven’t read the new ending myself and don’t wait to spoil the book for anyone else!
The storyline is enthralling. I cannot help but be sucked in by the story line with these books and this was no different. Continuing almost exactly where Hunting Prince Dracula left off, I was really looking forward to seeing how Audrey’s story developed in the third book. The story follows Audrey as she travels from England to America aboard the RMS Eturia with her uncle and partner, Thomas Cresswell. The trip isn’t as smooth sailing as hoped though and soon enough, dead bodies are showing up with little to no trace of who the killer may be.
The characters are just as wonderful as previous books. I did find myself getting a little frustrated with Audrey Rose at some moments in this book as we saw her being torn by her emotions but other than that, I really enjoyed following her again in this book and seeing things from her perspective. Thomas Cresswell was, of course, charming as always. After the events of Hunting Prince Dracula, the relationship between Audrey and Thomas was different and the difference in their relationship continued throughout this book. I am interested to see where their relationship develops to in the next book. I feel as if I can’t comment too much on their characters due to the change in endings.
There was the addition of new characters in this book, some enchanting and others not so much. There were a few new characters that were added to the mix that I didn’t really like that much. I thought that they were necessary to the book, I just didn’t really like their characters that much. One of the characters that was introduced that I am allowed to mention because Kerri has mentioned his name before is Mephistopheles. He is quite the charmer but not in a Thomas Cresswell kind of way. I’m still undecided on how I feel about his character but you’ll have to read the book to find out why!
What I found most interesting is how difficult it was to determine who the killer was. I won’t say much as the killer may have changed between the ARC and finished copy, but I thought it would be really easy to figure out who the murderer was in this book due to the significantly smaller setting but it was almost just as difficult. I did surprise myself though as one of my predictions was, in fact, right! No, I hadn’t guessed everybody as the killer. I had narrowed down my suspects to a couple and for once, one of them was right! But that doesn’t mean this book was predictable. If I’d have had to have picked one suspect, I definitely would have got it wrong.
The setting really gave itself to this book. The whole book was set at sea and the suspense of a killer on the loose in a location where nobody can escape (unless they jump into the Ocean, of course) worked really well in this book. I did wonder before reading this book how this setting would work as I knew there would be several murders and mysteries to be solved and although ships are rather large, it’s not exactly the size of London or Bran, where Hunting Prince Dracula was based in Romania. I knew that Kerri would be able to pull off this setting because she is wonderful at what she does, but she really pulled it out the bag and it was better than I could have hoped for. It actually surprised me at how perfect a setting it was.
The writing of these books is just fantastic. I can never get enough of Kerri’s writing. I feel like her writing really puts you into the story as if you are there and solving murder mysteries with the characters.
I would love to comment on how the book finished however, as mentioned, the ARC does actually have a different ending to the finished copy. Therefore, I will refrain from commenting on it because I know that it is different and it would be unfair to talk about the ending when it’s changed. All I will say is that I am looking forward to reading the finished ending and seeing the differences.
I absolutely loved this book and I’m super excited for it to go out in the world. I’m so happy that we still have another book with these characters as I’m really not ready to leave them yet.
If you want to see my 5 reasons for why you should stop what you’re doing and drop everything for this series, see below the picture!
Five reasons you should pick up Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series:
- The Characters – The characters are charming and relatable
- The Story Lines – The plot in every book carries you away and is so easy to follow.
- Historical – I don’t think there are that many books in the YA historical genre in comparison to Fantasy and Contemporary
- Addictive – These books are seriously addictive and you’ll find yourself yearning for the next book before you’ve even finished the one you’re reading!
- An Interactive Experience – As our characters try to piece things together, it encourages the reader to form their own theories.
Bonus reason: the series is coming to an end (booooo) which means that you’ll be able to rattle through all three books that are currently out and you won’t have to endure the long wait after each book…I mean, you will have to wait after you’ve read Escaping from Houdini but that’s not so bad. The wait is always worth it for these books!