Review: Escaping from Houdini

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, 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 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?

Okay, so, I kind of love to hate this book. As in, I don’t hate it at all but it caused me an intense amount of angst and anxiety so I freaking wish I hated it. AKA-it was pretty darn good. Let’s get on with it, though.

Yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking…: “Is this girl ever going to review something that isn’t a historic fiction novel again? It’s getting old.” Well, no one seems to be giving me feedback on my intense amount of historic fiction reviews, so, alas, no I will not be stopping because these books are the And, Escaping from Houdini was marvelous. 

The storytelling in this novel was vivid and colorful, almost more so than the previous two stories in the novel. Whilst the past two stories were dark in an almost gorey way, Escaping from Houdini was dark in a “scary but gorgeous circus gone wrong” type of way. Every scene was vivid and magical, but almost always ended with someone found murdered. 

Now, this same magical intrigue is part of what caused me some pain with this novel. There was, in fact, a love triangle. Now, if you’ve read the past two novels, this probably makes little sense. Cresswell and Wasdworth seemed pretty set in stone, right? However, a big part of this novel’s character development centered around Wasdworth discovering her wanderlust and desire to be truly free–a concept that was pretty mind-blowing to her, and other women around her at that time of history. She was struggling with figuring out how she could be free, but still fit into the society she had always been a part of.  So, she may or may not start to fall for a magical ringmaster gentleman who seems to be able to grant her this freedom (though, I am hoping that the fourth installment results in her ultimately realizing that she can grant herself this freedom).

Now, yeah, who likes a love triangle (definitely not me, I am pretty darn tired of them). However, that was not what was irritating to me. It was, of course, the general disregard for my forever bae, Thomas Cresswell. In order to make this a more dramatic and irritating love triangle, it seemed that Thomas (who was becoming ever more charming and vulnerable as he grew closer to Wadsworth) was kind of pushed to the side, and disregarded. And boy, that was just not cool.

And, let me tell you, this book almost ended with Wasdworth getting a piece of her own medicine and Cresswell realizing he deserved better than some wishy-washy gal (don’t get me wrong, I love Wadsworth, but the love-triangle ticked me off). The whole love-triangle seemed a bit forced, like it was maybe there just to continue fulling a tension-filled romance, rather than just letting the plot drive itself. 

As always, this story does have a bit of gore, due to the fact that the main characters are coroners. However, I felt that this story had less graphic descriptions of autopsies than the other two. Regardless, be warned, I am not typically one to be phased by gore, but I do skip over some scenes. 

Overall, I did adore this novel, even if it did go down some rather cringey romance paths. It kept me reading, and engaged!

4 out of 5.


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