Genre: Historical Thriller Age Range: YA Star Rating: 3 stars Series: yes - third book
*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for STALKING JACK THE RIPPER and HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA*
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 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?
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI is one of those books that is overshadowed by one decision that manages to seriously undermine the whole thing. Audrey Rose made a stupid, illogical decision that was clearly only in the the book so that she could keep a secret and flirt with someone else to cause “drama” with Thomas. Her agreeing to the bargain made no sense, and I simply rolled my eyes and new it was going to mean she and Thomas had tension and she would get all confused when clearly she’d end up with Thomas.
It was just dumb and a lazy way to add tension to the book. Better to have had her refuse, or insist that she could tell him what was happening. The deal was that she couldn’t tell him because it would ruin the finale, when it didn’t come up at all in the finale. I want YA to stop using such a “plot device” in books as it’s so common and boring and, frankly, lazy story telling.
My frustration with it overshadowed the rest of the book. I wasn’t able to fully focus on the story because I wanted to throttle the book for this issue. If it hadn’t been there, and instead we had a cute romance where they were learning more about each other and getting closer, then maybe the book would have been more enjoyable. What’s so wrong about romance not being a major part of a book, but instead seeing a healthy, steadily growing relationship?
That aside, the carnival onboard is a lot of fun, but the Houdini thing is a bit of a misleading title, as he’s a minor side character, not the lead or a threat. It feels a tad like cashing in on his name to make a title that fits the others better. The mystery was pretty gruesome – as I’ve come to expect from the series – and I like following Audrey Rose and Thomas as they try to solve them.
I will read the final book – I’ve got this far after all – but I’ll give it a bit of time, so I’m less likely to roll my eyes at the romance because I’m guessing it’s going to be just as “drama”-filled again.
Read my reviews of other books by Kerri Maniscalco:
Stalking Jack the Ripper (this series):
Kingdom of the Wicked: