Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Kerri Maniscalco’s Escaping from Houdini, the third book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper Series!
You are in for a treat, because not only is there a giveaway for an ARC of Escaping from Houdini, but Kerri Maniscalco also wrote a fantastic guest post on Thomas Cresswell and how he’s developed throughout the series.
The books in this series can be read without reading the earlier books, although some of the connections do make a lot more sense if you read the earlier books first.
Escaping from Houdini takes place on the luxurious ocean liner which soon becomes a floating prison where passengers are being murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer.
Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell are on their way to New York, but the murders on their ocean journey across the Atlantic pose a new mystery for them to solve.
As brutal slayings shock the ship and privileged young women disappear, the Moonlight Carnival–a troupe of performers providing entertainment for this journey–seem to be their primary suspect. Audrey Rose and Thomas must piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination.
Temptation at Every Corner: A Love Interest Who You’ll Fall in Love With
by Kerri Maniscalco
Believe it or not, Thomas Cresswell started as a sassy Sherlockian side character in the first draft of STALKING JACK THE RIPPER. His original role was fairly small, but he managed to steal every scene he was in. My editor suggested (aka REALLY wanted) them to kiss in book one, and thus he stepped from the friend zone into main love interest.
While Thomas is great, my goal for Escaping from Houdini was to give Audrey Rose more control over her choices. In every volume before this either her father, or brother, (or uncle and Aunt Amelia to lesser degrees) had a say in how she should act, or what she should do. On this ship, far from the rules and restrictions of society, it was her turn to let go a little bit; to figure out for herself once and for all what she wants out of life. To choose her own fate. For someone who’s constantly expressed a fear of cages, this was the perfect time and place to give her those proverbial wings.
Obviously she’s bound to make decisions which will test her and everything she thought she knew or wanted with this new freedom. Since her choices aren’t neatly hidden away in a vacuum with no consequences, they have an effect on Thomas. One of the things I loved was seeing his reaction to certain scenes. This is a book about illusions and even the impressive Thomas Cresswell isn’t immune to deducing his way through everything. He’s so intelligent and sharp when it comes to catching every last detail during a case, but matters of the heart show he’s all too human. I liked exploring the dichotomy of his confidence in his work, but his insecurity when it comes to personal relationships.
I can’t say too much without giving away spoilers, but something I’m most proud of is how Thomas remains true to his word. He’s told Audrey Rose countless times by now that he will always support her decisions, and this novel gives him the chance to put those pretty words into concrete actions. EFH is an emotional journey for everyone involved, and it forces the characters to face some tough truths while stuck in this fantasy setting. No one is immune to the magic, mischief, and mayhem of the Moonlight Carnival.
Having a love interest who not only says the right things, but follows through with them when put to the test is why Thomas is so swoony. (At least in my book ;))
I’ve been anticipating Escaping from Houdini ever since I binge-read book 1 and 2 last year in the fall. I was so excited to get an advance copy at Book Con, and it was so nice to be immersed in this time period again, hunting murders with Audrey Rose and Thomas.
The setting is very atmospheric and reminiscent of both Titanic and Caraval with the Moonlight Carnival and its troupe of performers. I definitely liked seeing how this allowed Maniscalco to include more weird and unusual and less stiff, in a way, characters compared to the people of the era.
The troupe of performers were interesting and I loved the sort of carnival element it added. It was engaging and created a unique atmosphere that made this book not a carbon copy of earlier books, but its own story.
I feel like with series like this, things can definitely get repetitive, and although I feel like I’m not as shocked by the murders as I was in earlier novels, it was still its own novel with its own storyline, rather than just a repeat of books 1 and 2.
And the romance! Wow, Maniscalco really knows how to make us angst about Audrey Rose and Thomas, because the carnival ringmaster, Mephistopheles, definitely added an different track to their relationship…
But I enjoyed how this let us explore the Audrey Rose & Thomas dynamic besides just shipping them. Adding Mephistopheles, the ring master, really let us look at Audrey Rose and Thomas and how they are wonderful together. Both Audrey Rose and Thomas learn a lot about themselves and their relationship together through the events in this book, as Maniscalco talks about in her guest post.
Honestly, what made me not love this book as much as the former novels was how I wanted more of the new things. I wanted to learn more about Mephistopheles, and I feel like we never really got enough of him and his intrigue and what made him tick.
He was such an interesting character with loads of potential, and I felt like he remains as much of a mystery at the beginning of the book as the end. I wanted more to him, because it almost felt like he was there just to be ~mysterious~ and make mysterious decisions and do mysterious things to spice up the plot, rather than having a certain level of agency within the story.
Also, Audrey Rose makes some unwise decisions, and I felt like I could spot the repercussions of those from early on. But, I still couldn’t guess the murderer right, so it’s always a success in my book when Maniscalco stumps me once again!
(Though, this doesn’t really say much, because I’m really not the best at guessing the murderer in these types of books. It’s what makes them so much fun!)
Overall, I did enjoy reading and will definitely be continuing on with the series (I also want to know what the revised ending is!) I think Audrey Rose and Thomas are awesome, beloved characters, and anyone who has liked the earlier books in the series will want to pick this up!
More About the Book
Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #3
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Genre: Young Adult — Historical Fiction, Mystery
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?
More About the Author
Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.
Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.
Photo Credit: Kelli Maniscalco
Want to try your luck at winning a copy of Escaping from Houdini? Enter through the Rafflecopter button below where one lucky winner will receive an ARC of Escaping from Houdini*. (US only)
*Please note that this has the original ending, not the final version of the ending that is in the finished copies.
Thank you so much to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for hosting this blog tour, and for Jimmy Books @ Book Con for providing me with an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review! Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour below!
Have you read any of the Stalking Jack the Ripper books? What did you think?