Book Review

Escaping From Houdini

Escaping From Houdini

  • Author: Kerri Maniscalco
  • Genre: YA Historical Fiction
  • Publication Date: September 18, 2018
  • Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Presents
  • Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #3

CONTENT WARNING: blood, murder, gore, prejudice

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Beware of midnight bargains… if you’re not careful, you might lose your life, your very soul, to this magical traveling show…”

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her ever-vexing companion, Thomas Cresswell, set sail on the luxurious RMS Etruria en route to their next investigation in America. On board, the ship’s seven nights of carnival entertainment — starring a promising young escape artist — prove to be the perfect distraction from the grim task that awaits. But the voyage quickly descends into a horror show when young women begin turning up dead.

For Audrey Rose, the Moonlight Carnival — with its disturbing acts and bizarre characters — becomes a nightmarish backdrop to her search for answers. With clues to the next victim’s identity pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

Oh, how I have missed the wonderful and creepy world of Audrey Rose Wadworth … the the ongoing romance with her partner, the dashing Thomas Cresswell. These two seem to just constantly get themselves into dangerous situations, and this is no different. 

Audrey Rose has a wonderful and disturbing talent for describing mundane things in the goriest terms possible. While I was constantly awed by the luxurious and beautiful descriptions in the book, frequently items would be compared to what Audrey Rose is most experienced with … blood. She still managed to make it sound charming, however, and it added to the overall creepy atmosphere of the story:

“Before I could respond, a drum thundered and a masked man emerged from a cloud of smoke in the center of the stage. He wore a frock coat the color of an opened vein and a starched shirt and trousers that were an endless black.”

She’s also the queen of feminist heroines, never backing down from a challenge simply because she’s a woman. Audrey Rose has already proven herself to be brilliant, highly capable, and exceedingly sharp-tongued, and those qualities are on display throughout this story.

“She was my partner in all things equality. We women could be called creatures, if only the men who said such careless words accepted our claws were fearsome things when we decided to scratch.”

She’s always wanted to be free to make her own choices, but she struggles with the full meaning of that in this book. As we all know, choices come with consequences, and while she means well, consequences don’t always come from intentions, but rather actions. And while Thomas has gotten to put himself in a different role in prior books, this time it is Audrey Rose doing so, and it’s easy to get lost in a role. 

“Was it possible to pretend to be someone else so thoroughly that you actually stepped into that life?”

There’s a lot more angst and tension in this story. I love the Cressworth relationship, and this story added in a little bit of a different angle to it. I was on the edge of my seat with this book, and I struggled to figure out who was behind the murders. As usual, Maniscalsco did a great job of weaving together her own creativity with historical information to make an engrossing story that I couldn’t stop reading. Naturally, there’s one more book coming, and I’m so torn between wanting to read it immediately and wanting to prolong my anticipation, since Maniscalco has become an author who has never let me down. 

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 15

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