Review: “Escaping from Houdini” by Kerri Maniscalco

I figured it was about time to start this book since Capturing the Devil releases this fall (September, to be exact). While Hunting Prince Dracula sealed my enjoyment of the series, I had high expectations for Escaping from Houdini. Again, I think this was a case where I hyped the book too much in my mind.

Escaping from HoudiniTitle: Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: JIMMY Patterson
Release date: September 18, 2018
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction, mystery
Length: 436 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “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?”

new three and a half stars

new my thoughts

plot text
I enjoyed the mystery, almost thriller-like aspect of this novel, but I found the setting itself to be a bit boring. I expected them to land in America and forge on their journey there, but whole story took place on the cruise liner. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it does condense a lot of what’s taking place. While I had hoped the circus performers would help entertain me, I find myself unable to focus while listening to the audiobook. Granted, I did like the idea of including an traveling circus and all it entails, especially as we see Audrey Rose question some things in regard to her field of study and her romantic relationship. But for some reason, I thought the murders on this ship were…boring? I don’t know. There’s not really a proper word for it, or maybe I simply can’t put my thoughts into multiple coherent sentences outside of “I wasn’t feeling it”, lol. 😬 I can say that the plot did keep me guessing, but as I’ve stated before, I suck at predicting things and who I thought was the killer wasn’t the right person at all. So…there’s that.

characters
With the introduction of a traveling circus, we also meet a bunch of new characters. I liked learning about them, and how the ringmaster takes them in to become somewhat of a family…ish. One of the major things that baffled me was how Audrey Rose couldn’t seem to stomach and/or have very mixed feelings about the dead bodies that came along. She couldn’t seem to separate these dead bodies from the ones she sees in a laboratory. And, in turn, it made her question her career choice (okay, look, I know many women didn’t have careers back then but work with me here). Then another love interest (sort of?) was brought in and I just sighed heavily. However, we do explore a somewhat different side of Thomas in a sense. His inability to express his emotions well comes into play throughout this book, and the resolution in the end just felt meh. Despite this, I do like how we see a character from the previous books, which is someone I wanted to see more of anyway.

writing style text
I listened to this via audiobook, and while most of it does take place on a ship, it does have what I love about historical fiction and Maniscalco writes it well. I really can’t wait to see what she has in store for the final book, especially since it takes place in America. While there were some frustrating parts on my side, I was still able to enjoy the book and how the author creates this cast of characters and each one of them makes you feel something. This wasn’t my favorite book of the series (that’s still HPD), but it doesn’t diminish the fact that I enjoy this series.

One random qualm I have is the title. I don’t think it fits at all with what happened in the book, especially since Houdini really wasn’t all that prominent. *shrugs*

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You can purchase this book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble (B&N exclusive edition), Book Depository, or find it at your local indie with IndieBound!

2 thoughts on “Review: “Escaping from Houdini” by Kerri Maniscalco

  1. Veronika @ Wordy and Whimsical says:

    I agree with much of what you said – the only thing is that I liked this even less than you haha. I do think it may have been because I was very excited for it, as you also mentioned, and it just failed to meet those expectations. Especially in regards to the relationship – the end of the second book seemed to suggest that Audrey Rose and Thomas will be happy and together, and that obviously wasn’t what happened. This will-they-won’t-they (when we KNOW they will) was frustrating to read about, especially because the new love interest bored me so bad, and felt so fake and pretentious. It was interesting to see Audrey Rose question her career choice, but then again – it came too late in the series I think; had she had these thoughts in the previous novels they’d have felt more authentic. As for the mystery, I’m somehow never impressed by the mystery aspect of the series *hides* 😬 They are usually so easy to figure out, and while that didn’t happen here, I fully agree with what you said – it felt really boring here. Part of it was that the people on the ship weren’t more scared – I couldn’t believe no one tried to hide away in their cabin and take their dinner there. They didn’t act as though this was scary, and so it didn’t feel scary to me as a reader. I don’t know if that makes sense haha. Anyhow, great review and sorry for the long comment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • amyriadofbooks says:

      Ahhhh, I totally feel you. Thomas and Audrey’s growing relationship, both as friends and lovers, really made me enjoy Hunting Prince Dracula. But that seemed to take a back seat here, especially with Audrey questioning things. I normally don’t read mystery so it’s intriguing, but as I’ve said before because I suck at making predictions. However, this book didn’t give me the creepy feelings as SJtR or HPD did, lol.

      I love long comments with discussion! Thanks, Veronika! 🙂

      Like

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