Release Date: September 25th, 2018
Dates Read: September 18th, 2018 to September 20th, 2018
Trigger Warnings: gruesome murders, descriptions of death, PTSD references, anxiety
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genre: young adult, mystery, romance, historical fiction
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?
R E V I E W
If you know me, then you know I am absolutely obsessed with Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series. This particular series is one that I just can’t get out of my head. In between the release of each book I can’t get the characters out of my head and find myself desperately yearning for the next book each year. As soon as I could get my hands on Escaping from Houdini I did. I waited patiently (not really) for this book and was absolutely devastated when I realised I was actually rostered to work the day that this book released.
It felt like a form of torture to not be able to read one of my favourite books on release day and have to spread it out over several days. It didn’t take away from my absolute enjoyment of it though. I was so absolutely enthralled with this book and just the spectacular world building that I am almost left rendered speechless. Kerri Maniscalco’s Audrey Rose and Thomas are such reflections of real life that it is incredible. I can’t speak about the era of Victorian England but, I love the atmosphere that is created.
At the end of Hunting Prince Dracula our formidable duo, their chaperone and Audrey Rose’s uncle were bordering a ship set to head to New York to solve a new crime. The pair had faced horrific circumstances of the two major crime investigations they had been a part of and are looking forward to some possible relaxing on an entertainment ship. Nothing is ever that easy so when a lady dies during a circus act on the first night Audrey Rose, Thomas and her uncle jump straight into the investigation. The trio has to solve the crime before the criminal gets off the ship in New York or else they’ll never be able to work it out. Problems arise and flirtations begin to confuse our dear lead main character. I’ll talk more about that one later though. This story follows closely with the carnival that is on board the ship. In a time where PT Barnum was creating show business and it is something spectacular throughout Escaping from Houdini.
Kerri Maniscalco knows how to use description. She weaves it so damn well that it makes you feel as if you’re aboard the ship or even Audrey Rose. It is such a unique experience and one that I rarely experience with books now. However, each of Kerri’s books has managed to take me to her unique historical settings.
Some may say there is a love triangle in this book as well or that Audrey is unfaithful towards Thomas. I don’t see it that way. Our main characters are seventeen. I was seventeen only a few years ago and in a relationship, I remember finding other people attractive but that didn’t mean I was unfaithful to my boyfriend of the time (it was super toxic but still). Audrey is clearly struggling with her feelings for the ringmaster and that is clear in the book. It is so damn clear what she feels for Thomas is on a whole other playing field. The romance and ship stay put but Audrey is allowed to explore her internal feelings of attraction without being slandered I believe. I think it was an incredibly realistic insertion by the author and give her major props for it!
Audrey is ultimately a complex character who I want to see stab someone. No, but seriously. She has so many layers and after the ending of this book, I am so excited to see where Kerri takes her character!
Thomas is so damn charming as well. I mean I absolutely adore him and I know many others do so it’s not a shock. But can we like all acknowledge that is he basically the ‘men doing the bare minimum’ meme on Twitter? He gives Audrey Rose free choice and allows her to choose between men without any of his input. He says he will always support her choices and everything he does shows that. But, like, every man should do this. It is absolutely lovely to see, don’t get me wrong! But it is straight up that Twitter meme.
I guess I should talk about the mystery element of this book considering it is a young adult mystery. I didn’t actually guess the killer in this one. Someone take my detective hat from me because it is all over for me folks. The mystery really kept me on the edge of my seat. It seemed that unlike the other murder that this one was random and that is probably the scariest part. It was so damn intriguing to see how the murders all came together and the characters reactions.
I think the only thing that bothered me slightly about Escaping from Houdini was that the PTSD representation was pulled back a little. It is still present in underlying conversations and thoughts but after everything that Audrey Rose has been through, most of it with no discussions, I don’t think it should have all but disappeared from the book.
Overall, I am so glad to say that Escaping from Houdini met all of my expectations. It quite literally blew my socks off and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to read it. It was such a spectacular story and the showcasing of the authors writing is so clear. Gosh, I could rave about these books for days. I just think everyone should give these a try, even if you aren’t particularly interested in historical fiction or mystery. Kerri Maniscalco creates the perfect harmony between the two that anyone would love.
Happy reading everyone!
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