Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #3) — Kerri Maniscalco

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TITLE: Escaping from Houdini
AUTHOR: Kerri Maniscalco
SERIES: Stalking Jack the Ripper, #3
RELEASES: September 18th, 2018; Jimmy Patterson Books
GENRE: Historical Fiction/Mystery
AGE RANGE: YA
ACQUIRED: ARC

SYNOPSIS: 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?

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book 1 | book 2

Let me tell you guys, I have been dying to post this review! It’s been a few months since I read this one, but the publisher did request that I wait to post my thoughts until close to the book’s release, and naturally, I obliged. Now that I can finally gush freely with you all, I have to tell you that I adore this series. It is such a fun roller coaster of emotions and suspense, and I honestly think Kerri could write a dozen books following the adventures of Audrey and Thomas, and I would happily read each and every one of them.

He flashed a quick grin. “A lifetime full of surprises, remember, Wadsworth?”
“Indeed.” I could not imagine a future that didn’t include unwinding each secret he possessed.

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Just the same as in the past two installments, my favorite parts are each and every moment in which Audrey and Thomas are alone, whether they’re swapping flirty banter, admiring one another’s intellect, sneaking steamy moments in hidden corners, or confessing sweet, tender emotions and desires. That said, this installment relies less on relationship building and more on suspense, intrigue, and a bit of con work.

“Truth is often compared to a blade. I question those who marvel when it pricks.”

What I expect to be a controversial topic is Audrey’s behavior in this book, which I ultimately loved, despite struggling with at first. Escaping fell slightly below Hunting Prince Dracula in terms of enjoyment for me because of her actions, which I hold conflicting feelings about: on the one hand, her deceit is heartbreaking as we see the pain it causes her loved ones, but on the other, Audrey proves herself as a bright young woman who has come to recognize that she has to figure things out for herself and to see if she’s settling, or truly on the path she needs to be on. That said, I think readers everywhere will be pleased with the end of her curious emotional journey.

“Hope is an invisible, but mighty force. Don’t dismiss its power.”

On a less conflicting note, let me tell you, the setting is this book is fantastic; it is so delightful and intriguing. Nothing is ever quite what it seems to be on the ship, and there’s a lot of world-building for the circus and its performers that lends to an immersive, captivating arena for the murders.

“Miss Audrey Rose Wadsworth, conqueror of my soul—you are an absolute fiend. You’d like to flout tradition simply because of your need for my body.” He held a hand over his heart. “I swear I have never loved you more.”

As for my favorite aspect of the series, Thomas: he has developed into this delightfully kind creature when it comes to his love for Audrey, but his humor and snark are still fully present, as is his brilliant wit. Thomas is truly one of my favorite YA love interests of all time, because not only is he funny, charming, and cute—he’s also incredibly respectful and in awe of Audrey’s talents, and even when it breaks his heart, he’s fully prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure that she feels free to make the choices she needs to make. I just love him so, so much.

“Swords, secrets, and stolen kisses.”

Finally, our newest prominent player: Mephistopheles, the ring-leader of the traveling show. I know that there have been some mixed feelings about him from other ARC reviewers, but I have to say that, despite some of the really twisted things he does, I thought he was a phenomenal addition to the story. He’s got this moral greyness to him that you can never quite determine the shade of, and his motives are rarely, if ever, clear.

“You speak the language of my complicated heart, Wadsworth. I am a very lucky man.”
I hoped he still believed that once I’d confessed my morning activities in full.

Genuinely, I am so interested in seeing what the general consensus is when the finished release rolls around and reviews start to roll in, because I think Kerri made a lot of risky moves while writing this story (which paid off). I definitely looked at Audrey Rose a little differently by the time I closed the cover on this one (not in a bad way, though), and I wonder if it will shift even further once the finished ending comes out—because, in case you didn’t know, the ARCs don’t have the final ending. Kerri wrote a fake ending for the advance copies, which gives me the perfect excuse to reread this beauty when my pre-order arrives in September.

I’ll come back and update this review after I’ve finished, to let you all know if any of my thoughts have changed, but as it stands, I can promise you that I will still be recommending this series to anyone and everyone, as it is such a fun read with a truly lovable cast of characters.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Jimmy Patterson Books for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Buddy read with Kayla and Amy!

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Just a 26-year-old trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

31 thoughts on “Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #3) — Kerri Maniscalco

  1. Wonderful review! I agree that some of the choices made were risky, but I also really enjoyed this one! I think the Audrey Rose/Thomas banter was at it’s best in this one!

    I enjoyed Mephistopheles character a lot, but I was a little too worried about our favorite ship.
    I’m so excited to see the new ending!

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    1. Thank you, Becky! Oh yes, to everything you said – the banter was amazing! I really love how they’re skirting the line of “modesty” and all, it’s really fun and creating so much tension haha. They’re just adorable together. Like you said, though, Mephisto was so fun, but his presence terrified me a little! I literally thought at one point, “So help me god, if this ship sinks…”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so curious to know how I will feel about this now. I love Audrey Rose so I’m really interested to see if my opinion of her changes after reading this.
    I’m also dying to know the two endings and how they compare to one another!

    Do you think Audrey Rose is the main reason people don’t seem to be enjoying this instalment as much as the others?

    Fantastic review, Destiny!

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    1. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts, Ellyn! The thing about her character in this one is that I know some of her actions shocked and upset a lot of people, but at the end of the day, nothing that she did truly surprised me. She’s, in my opinion, this super unique heroine in the sense that she’s so pragmatic and she’s really written to portray this serious, self-committed sort of young woman who wants to go far in life, have a career, etc., and Thomas is really the cherry on top – not the base of her life, you know? You really get to see that in this one because so much of what she struggles with is ensuring that she’s being true to herself and her vision, and so, the more I look back on this one, the more I actually appreciate that.

      However, do I think it’s why a lot of people don’t like this one as much? YES. I think a lot of readers are very protective over their OTPs (I get it, because I am, too, lol!) and it can hinder the experience if they’re stressing over that. So, I don’t blame them, but I hope that it won’t ruin the book’s chance at success.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. AHHHH, so glad to see that you enjoyed this one so much! I keep staring at my copy of EFH, but am forcing myself not to pick it up until I finish my current read lol.

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  4. Just finished the book and wanted to know what was different from the arc!!! I am assuming the arc is missing the epilogue…. ahh I need to know all things Audrey and Thomas lol.

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