Monday, October 8, 2018

#Review - Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco #YALit #Horror

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper#3
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: jimmy patterson
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Horror

The #1 New York Times bestselling series that started with Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula continues in this third bloody installment! A luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of madness and horror when passengers are murdered one by one...with nowhere to run from the killer.

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? 

Escaping from Houdini is the third installment in author Kerri Maniscalco's Stalking Jack the Ripper series. This third book continues the incredibly popular series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula. The series features 17-year old Audrey Rose Wadsworth as a forensic scientist in training along with her partner-in-crime Thomas Cresswell. This book takes place a short time after the ending of Hunting Price Dracula onboard the RMS Etruria heading for New York.

Rumors of Audrey and Thomas's adventures are now spreading thanks to two high stakes mysteries that they uncovered and brought an end to. In fact, Audrey's Uncle Jonathan has noticed a change in Audrey since she was sneaking into his workplace against her father's desires. Now, Audrey (who has tried to put the darkness of the previous adventures behind her) & Thomas must do so again, but not in New York, as previously thought, but onboard the RMS Etruria. Onboard the ship, the Captain of the ship has hired a traveling Carnival called the Midnight Carnival. 

"I inquire once more, which will you lose before the week is through? Your heart? Your head? Perhaps, you will lose your life, your very soul to this magical traveling show."

The Carnival's ring master, Mephistopheles, has promised 7 nights of magic, mischief and mayhem. One of the characters introduced in this story, is obviously Harry Houdini. It's fair to say, without spoiling, that the title is misleading at best, and has nothing to do with the murder mystery that Audrey and Thomas are set to investigate. You
should also know that the author took a whole lot of her own gambles by introducing Harry in this book, especially when in real life, he was only 15 years old at the time of this story. (1 January-9 January 1899). 

As the Midnight Carnival kicks off, the bodies begin to fall in earnest. Each night there is something more for Audrey and Thomas to discover. Each night they find out that they are not even close to discovering what is really happening. Each night the mysterious Mephistopheles takes an interest in Audrey, and Audrey's heart is torn in different directions. Mephisto is secretive, and dark, and willing to take chances, while Thomas, her partner, adds a bit of personal drama to the story.

"Truth is poison. Beware how much you ingest at once."

I think the scenes between Audrey and Mephisto are far more intriguing than the mystery itself. Audrey seemed much more human in this book compared to the last two. She's flawed and she has very real and complicated emotions, especially when it comes to Thomas and asking herself if Mephisto could make her happy. While I am not a fan of love triangles, I could imagine the possibilities were Audrey to choose to walk away her desired profession, and take a walk on the dark side.  

The story is less about finding out who the killer was and more about everything else that was happening on the ship. The carnival itself, the players who come from all sorts of walks of life, the curiousness of the diverse cast of characters, and Audrey's own cousin Liza who curiously or not found herself part of the Carnival, and in love with one of the players. The ending left me curious, and also puzzled. Nope, not going to talk about it except to say that I don't know where the author goes from here after what she put Audrey through. I can imagine she will continue her complicated mysteries into the next installment.

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