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.
Title: 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?”
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.
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.
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*
Check out these other reviews:
- Yomi from Stark Pages gave this book 5 stars!
- Bec at Bec’s Bookish Reads felt the same way I did about this book.
- Katerina provides an excellent, in-depth review of this book, complete with gifs!