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Stalking Jack the Ripper #3

Escaping from Houdini

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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?

437 pages, Hardcover

First published September 18, 2018

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About the author

Kerri Maniscalco

17 books24k followers
I'm mostly on instagram--where I'm always ready to talk fictional crushes and nerd out over books. (Okay, okay. And I've also been known to share snippets and teasers from my upcoming novels, if you're into that sort of thing...) Please feel free to chat with me there @KerriManiscalco. I love talking with fellow readers!

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.

She is the #1 NYT and USA Today bestselling author of the STALKING JACK THE RIPPER quartet, the KINGDOM OF THE WICKED trilogy, and her forthcoming adult debut, THRONE OF THE FALLEN, set within the KINGDOM OF THE WICKED universe. Two other un-named titles will also be set within the KOTW world and will follow two different princes.

For more information, visit Kerri online:

Follow Kerri on Instagram:

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,426 reviews
Profile Image for Katerina.
422 reviews16.8k followers
October 26, 2018

You've been warned.


I've never been this disappointed or frustrated because of a book. Escaping from Houdini was an insult to my emotions, my sanity, and the very heroes Kerri Maniscalco so lovingly created. It took a tremendous amount of effort to turn the pages, to witness the fall of the characters that always managed to put a smile on my face. My pulse accelerated and I wanted to throw things and ravage and scream and burn the darn book (YES I came this close to committing the most ungodly sacrilege) and get drunk (YES I did stop reading in order to CONSUME ALCOHOL to calm my nerves - and that's from a person who drinks only TWICE a year). Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula were two books I loved, and I can't even begin to describe how upset and aggravated I am from the treatment of what I once thought was the perfect crime solving duet. My expectations tumbled like a tower made of playing cards, and my heart? It was crushed into tiny pieces.

(Minor spoilers)

Expectation No. 1: Wadswoth and Cresswell being a team, solving crimes, cutting bloated corpses while bantering and flirting.

Reality: Cresswell's presence was dramatically reduced. Why? Because the author decided to insert an unnecessary, cheap love triangle as a means to test their love or whatever, with the second love interest (hereinafter referred to as S.L.I.) being a copycat of Cresswell, a person of debatable morality who kept provoking the latter and suddenly became the center of Wadsworth's world. Oh, and it gets better. Wadsworth ended up questioning her feelings towards Cresswell, the boy who was also her partner and friend, who was next to her during emotional trauma and tragedies, who constantly supported her and literally worshipped her because of someone she knew for LESS THAN A WEEK, WHOSE FACE SHE HAD NEVER SEEN, who kept staging incidents that compromised Wadsworth's virtue just to spite Cresswell and manipulated her. Wadsworth's excuses for the time she spent with S.L.I. were pathetic; she supposedly struck a deal with S.L.I. for a greater good, but her immaturity, her reckless, childish and self-centered behaviour was an utter disservice to her character and everything she's been through. Somehow her flaws were magnified, her saving graces diminished, even though it's the third book of the series, meaning that her slow but steady growth preceded the events of Escaping from Houdini. Investigating crime scenes without Cresswell? Hiding crucial information and evidence from him? Sneaking out at night with another man, practically cheating? I did not sign up for this. She never talked to him, not even once tried to explain what was going on, but at the same time asked for his unconditional trust. And Cresswell? While he had every right to yell, to be jealous and confront her, he simply sat idly and waited for her to choose. Wadsworth claimed that hurting Cresswell, that brushing him aside or doing something questionable was dictated by her head in order to solve the case, yet only pages later she would ignore the logic she so passionately invoked in order to do things she felt that she needed to do, despite reason. Even her inner musings were inconsistent. She was aboard a vessel plagued by murder and mayhem, and she was focused on S.L.I., the freedom he offered, and acted like a ninny that was guided by her hormones.

The partnership I came to love so affectionately, the two forensic students that complimented each other like two pieces of a puzzle, Cresswell with his marvelous deductive skills and Wadsworth with her instict, was barely there. In its stead, there was S.L.I. who assumed Thomas' role. All I got was lies, deception, and a foolish girl who was blinded by illusions and hurt the people she loved.

Expectation No. 2: Wadsworth advocating feminism.

Reality: Let's break the bubble, folks. Wadsworth is not a feminist. The way I perceive it, feminism is about gender equality, about being treated with respect regardless of sex. It's not about superiority, and it addresses all women. Wadsworth wanted the ability to choose, to make mistakes and learn and take her fate into her own hands.
❝All my life I'd longed for freedom - freedom to pick and choose every detail of my life. To make good decisions and horrible ones. Decisions that would break my heart and remake it ten times over.❞

The problem is, all these principles according to Wasworth applied only to herself. She went behind Liza's back and struck a deal with the devil in an attempt to patronize her, the very thing she hated and fought against. She meddled in Liza's affairs because apparently Wadsworth knew what was best for her, without doing her the courtesy of making her own mistakes. Wadsworth fought for her own right to make horrible decisions, but it seems that Liza was not entitled to the same freedom. And you know what that makes Wadsworth? A self-righteous, dishonest and manipulative HYPOCRITE.

The same goes to the way she behaved around Cresswell; Wadsworth wanted to be treated as an equal, to be appreciated for her mind the same way he was. The thing is that during Escaping from Houdini, she never treated him as her partner. Because it seems that Audrey Rose Wadsworth is an almighty deity who doesn't need anyone (except from S.L.I., who understands her and doesn't want to cage her).

Expectation No. 3: A well-structured criminal case.

Reality: Let's be honest, a book about murders on a luxurious ship entertained by an eerie and wickedly enchanting carnival is bound to be captivating. Kerri Maniscalco succeeded in creating the proper ambience, the sinister vibe that promised debauchery and blood, the chilling atmosphere right before the murderer presented his ghastly works of art, and that is the sole reason I didn't rate it lower. However, a) I figured out the identity of the killer once a certain clue was presented (and I can't fathom how Wadsworth did not see it coming), and b) I can't shake the feeling that the evidence and the whole construction of the crime were chaotic. Instead of elaborately crafting a detailed, thorough murder case, the author prefered to focus on the drama overdose and the (unfounded) conflict of Wadsworth's feelings, and mistakes inevitably happened. For example, Wadsworth was given a note about a secret meeting and went to the rendezvous point thinking it came from Cresswell. Didn't she recognize that it wasn't his handwriting? *cue facepalm*

Escaping from Houdini inflicted a devastating blow on my love for this series, it opened a wound that will probably never heal. I fear that the relationship I cherished, and the heroes I rooted for are now tainted, tarnished by the glitter and the silks of the Moonlight Carnival. And that is something I never expected.

Review also posted on Booknest!

Stalking Jack the Ripper:★★★★
Hunting Prince Dracula: ★★★★★
Escaping from Houdini: ★★½
Profile Image for Kerri.
Author 17 books24k followers
October 12, 2018
UPDATE 10/11/18

internet: cressworth wedding 2019!
me: they've known each other 4 months, AR just turned 17, Papa Wadsworth hasn't approved of them even dating yet, they've liked each other for two months, they've kissed 3 or 4 times, Thomas screwed up twice 2-3 weeks ago in HPD, but if you're suuuuure... #SJTR4 #murderbynumbers #happyfriday!


just a little Friday fun. hope you have a wonderful weekend filled with tons of spooky reads!! xoxo

8/9/18 UPDATE:

EFH Fall Tour announcement can be found here! (along with signed editions available throughout the US on release day!)

INTL Pre-orders (available to all) can be found here:

IG--I'm hosting an INTL giveaway RIGHT NOW and it ends on 8/16/18!

7/23/18 UPDATE:

both the US pre-order prizes and INTL pre-order giveaway have been announced!

US pre-order: https://www.jimmypatterson.org/titles...

INTL giveaway: https://www.instagram.com/p/BllHpLWFM...

4/6/18 UPDATE:

i'm hosting the very first ARC giveaway on twitter RIGHT NOW! go forth and enter, friends! remember, there aren't going to be very many ARCs in the world, so don't miss out!!!




12/17/17 update: title, summary, and tentative release date are being announced TOMORROW!

title announcement coming before the end of december. are you ready???


i am having a little too much fun writing this dark draft :)
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,655 reviews5,127 followers
March 11, 2022
#1: Stalking Jack the Ripper ★★★★★
#2: Hunting Prince Dracula ★★★★★
#3: Escaping From Houdini ★★★★★

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.

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!

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!


Buddy read with Kayla and Amy!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.3k followers
April 16, 2020
im so confused as to why this installment has the lowest rating of all the books in the series among my friends (is it because of audrey??), because this has been my favourite one so far! granted, i was very less than impressed with the previous book, which everyone adored, so maybe im the weird one. lol.

i love all things circus and carnival and illusions, so this book is right up my alley. i do wish houdini played a larger part in the plot, but i understand why he didnt. still, i really loved the whole ‘murder on the orient express’ vibes of this story, just on a passenger liner rather than a train. its exciting and mysterious and thomas is still carrying this series on his shoulders, but im not complaining.

definitely going to finish the series as the next book focuses on real murders, similar to the first book. so i hope i enjoy it just as much!

4 stars
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,791 followers
November 12, 2018
i'm so sleepy but even my state of delirium cannot mask how annoyed i am @ this book


ill write something more thoughtful in the morning

2.5 stars


i find it absolutely incredible that i can look at a cover and thing 'wow i want to marry that someday'

Profile Image for Sharon.
505 reviews258 followers
May 9, 2019
Aw, man. It sucks when a series that was on its way to becoming one of my favorites disappoints me and now, I don’t know how to feel about it anymore. I’m filled with a lot of feelings – and pretty much none of them good. I’m just going straight to the spoilers, beware:

So putting this aside, the mystery is an interesting one. I was able to somehow guess early on who exactly the killer was in each of the 1st 2 books. This one was way, way harder, possibly because there were way more characters. In addition, keeping up with the theme, there are “sleight of hands” to the readers in the sense that we are so distracted by the plot, romance, and numerous characters and going-ons that it’s hard to pinpoint anything with everything happening. I love that mirroring.

This book had me all over the place that I ended up having 4 guesses. 2 of them non-carnival-performers and 2 of them are. 1 of them is correct, but I have to say that even with these guesses, I didn’t feel resolute about anyone. I was unsure for all of it. So props. When the reveal came and we get the “reason” for the murder, it made sense.

So even though I had a lot to complain about one thing in particular (this topic is my pet peeve so it gets to me more), I really do have immense respect for the author. This is such a creative series, and I love, love, love the concept of centering a mystery around a famous figure in history. I’m definitely going to read the final book when it comes out next year. Still, I’m going to have to give this 1.5 stars (sadly. And no one is more sad than me because this was on my way to being one of my favorite YA series ever. Now, idk)

On a random note, are we really escaping from Houdini?

Things that you might want to know (WARNING: Spoilers below)
Happy/satisfying ending?
Love triangle? Cheating? Angst level? Other things to note?
What age level would be appropriate?
Profile Image for Lucie V..
971 reviews1,769 followers
March 7, 2022
✅ Audrey-Rose and Thomas ❤️
✅ Carnival and magic vibe
✅ Murders and mystery
✅ Romance and angst
✅ Plot
🆗 Love triangle (kind of)
❗️❗️ Trigger warning : autopsies and graphic descriptions of dead bodies

4.5 stars

"Welcome to Mephistopheles's Magnificent Minstrel Show, or as it's better known... the Moonlight Carnival!"
"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"

I see that many people really disliked this book, but it was probably my favorite of the series so far. I really loved the carnival/magic/illusions vibe of this book. I also liked the fact that I really couldn't tell who the murderer was until the end. There were clues and leads that were pointing to many characters at the same time, but I liked it because it was less predictable than the previous books. I also love the fact that each book in the series has a different setting, it brings novelty to the story.

Audrey Rose and Thomas are headed to the United States, crossing the Atlantic on the luxurious RMS Etruria, where the Moonlight Carnival is in charge of the entertainment for the 7 nights of the trip. Everything is fine until someone is murdered during dinner. No one saw anything, and she's only the first of a string of horrific murders. Audrey Rose and Thomas waste no time and jump into the investigation.

The show must go on, and what a show it is! Illusionists, magicians, fortune tellers, knife throwers, card readers, and the great Houdini are there to ensnare the audience in their evening shows. Wanting to investigate the carnival crew, Audrey Rose struck a bargain with the dashing and mysterious ringleader Mephistopheles. A bargain that could potentially turn into a scandal costing her her reputation and her relationship with Thomas.

“If you wish to go, I’ll never make you stay. I might not do and say the proper thing all the time, but I do know that I love you enough to set you free.”

“I love when you look at me that way."
I searched his eyes. "How?"
"Like you might possibly love me in the same extraordinary way that I love you.”

I love Thomas. Can he be more perfect? I don't think so. His whole sarcastic-gentleman behavior is delightful, and he made me smile and even laughed out loud a few times. He is just so sweet, Audrey Rose is a very lucky woman.

“I promise to stand by your side through whatever comes our way. You’ll end up being the hero, no doubt, but I’ll look good besides you. And that’s what truly counts.”

I also wanted to hug Thomas a few times when he was sad as Audrey becomes more and more entangled with Mephistopheles. I wanted to hit her in the face sometimes because she hurt Thomas with her decisions... I understand that she was trying to investigate and that she had a deal to uphold, but it was still so frustrating! I also wanted to hit Mephistopheles, but at the same time, I like him very much so I am still conflicted about him. I would like to see him again in the next book, as long as he does not try to create another rift between Audrey Rose and Thomas.

I am really excited to read the last book of this series and to see how Audrey Rose and Thomas will get their happy ending (because they HAVE to get their HEA). I also enjoy the sexual tension that is slowly building between them and I hope that we can have more than a few stolen kisses in the next book, although I realize it is not probable with the whole Victorian setting and very strict social conventions.

“I’ve been tasked with escorting you to bed, a difficult job, but one I shall take very seriously, I assure you.”

Stalking Jack the Ripper ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Hunting Prince Dracula ⭐⭐⭐.5

Gorgeous fanart by Gabriella Bujdoso

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Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,596 followers
June 21, 2020
Stalking Jack the Ripper (#1) - ★★★★★
Hunting Prince Dracula (#2) - ★★★★★
Escaping from Houdini (#3) - ★★★★★
Capturing the Devil (#4) - ★★★★★


[Credit: Kerri Maniscalco]
Raise your hand if you're glad they changed the dress color to blue! 🙋


[9/10/2019] - POP QUIZ! Anybody recognize this voice?


Nope! It's spelled "mephistopheles" I TOLD YOU I SUCK AT SPELLING.


My notes from the second re-read:
1) Thomas is my spirit animal.
2) The first time, the love triangle was annoying but this time, I knew it was coming and was adequately prepared.
3) Thomas is my spirit animal.
4) I have a crush on Metastafeles. (Is that how you spell it? I was listening to the audio. It's pronounced:
META-STOF-UH-LEEZ. and by now we should all know that I am horrible at spelling.
5) Thomas is my spirit animal
6) THis book needs to become a movie.
i originally gave this book a 4.5 but it is now 5. i f**king love this series
Last book before Capturing the Devil!!!!
Oh, I'm so glad this isn't a trilogy because I'm not ready for this series to end. I think the only time I've ever loved a series this much is Land of Stories or the Janitors series. And when I finished that, I was solo was like I had a horrible reading slump. When I read the last book, I just might die.... No not really but very close

This book made me feel so much. And that's what I love about this seried. It's this perfect blend of romance and mystery. It's a mys-rom... Is that a word? Well, it is now.

Anyway, let's talk about AR and Thomas.... Oh my gosh, I am not one for romance (I'll read it but I don't gravitate towards it) but I love their relationship. It is so cute and so I was so frustrated when there was a love triangle introduced... Ugghh.

Nonetheless, I loved this book because of the mystery. I think of all three books this one was the best crafted. It had me guessing and guessing until the big reveal.

Bottom Line:

Age Recommendation: 13+ (Scary themes, Gore, Murder)
TW: Gore, Murder

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Profile Image for Madita.
520 reviews18.8k followers
March 16, 2023
How is it that until the last few chapters, NO ONE and I mean NO ONE had any correct ideas or found ANY clues??
Idk that made zero sense to me…

On top of that the love triangle made me really really mad. Audrey is not a fun main character. I feel lots of negative emotions about this girl and her fake feminism.

The only good thing is the scenery and the overall vibe of the book.
Profile Image for  Teodora .
303 reviews1,632 followers
March 15, 2021
2.45/5 ⭐

Sadly, I haven't enjoyed this book as much as I wanted to. And that is mostly because, for me, it felt more like a transition book, a book written to be a bridge between two other major events that were supposed to be happening in other books.

The plot was similar to the one of the previous books and I could definitely see the pattern of the raw draft more clearly here.
The mystery was still not that hard to unravel and the bad guy of this instalment was (to me, of course, I don't speak for anyone else but myself here) very easy to spot from the beginning.

Aside from little inaccuracies that annoyed me here and there, I also wasn't a great big fan of Audrey Rose here. There was something about her that irritated me (maybe her ability to ignore Thomas so well and just sneak around to try to get in trouble on her own, but who knows?)


Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews986 followers
January 3, 2019

**Full review now posted on my blog**

You don't need to be a detective to see how immature and disappointing this book is. One of the greatest failures of the year.

*Mild spoilers below*

Look at the gif above, this is a real life case when I want to go drinking for a week to forget all about this book. This is the moment I was dreading since book 2 came out and I had my doubts regarding it, and this is the case when I intentionally overrated this series by giving book 2 - 3.5 stars and book 3 - 2.5, when really they deserved at least half a star less. Why have I done it? Because I adored book 1, which you can see in my absolutely insane fangirl review. I don't know why I am still doing it, but I think it's time to add some snark to the whole story. So be done with introspection, Nastassja, and let's start the snarky party.

Why Escaping from Houdini is a fiend pretending to be worthy of its predecessor? I can give you some reasons.

>> The plot is absolutely erratic and messy. If you want to find a thread of deductive thinking here in the best Sherlock Holmes tradition - which this series originally was successfully accomplishing - you are for a great deal of disappointment. The whole time I was reading this book, I couldn't fathom why the mystery was so unimportant that it was almost fully replaced by teenage angst and inner cringy heroine's monologue. It felt like all Audrey Rose cared about is romance: give her a daisy and she will pluck petals all day long, asking the flower to foretell her if 'he loves her or not'. Pathetic and boring. Why when a lot of people where dying on that fucking ship, in most terrific and gruesome ways, characters didn't particularly care and kept living their lives as if nothing was happening. Have you seen or read "Murder on the Orient express"? Do you remember in what state of fear and desperation characters were when murder happened on a train in a closed space in the middle of nowhere? There's a brutal killer on a loose and all you do is keep say, Show must go on?

This is so wrong on so many levels.

If I were not lazy, I'd quote the whole book and give you prove as why the detective part of the book is fake. But then I will have to do the same with characters and the romance.
Oh boy, this book does feel like an evil changeling.

What happened to Audrey Rose? - Changeling!
What happened to Thomas Cresswell? - Changeling!
What happened to their sexy banters and smart dialogues? - Fairy fucking Changelings!!

Audrey Rose was immature and stupid. All her talk of science is bullshit; all she really cared about - new boy in circus town (I'll get to it yet).
What happened to Thomas Cresswell?! Ah yeah, feminist heroine's spineless sidekick. Shoot him and spare us the embarrassment of pretending we still love him.

Get used to disappointment

Ow, and now is my favorite reason to hate this book. Drummmmmmmmmmm-ta-da ---> fucking love triangle!

This is what practically happens: Audrey Rose starts to have 'tender' feelings toward - attention - a clone of Cresswell! *gasp* They guy is darkly handsome and mysterious and he does sexy banter. Oh my, Audrey Rose starts to doubt her feelings toward Cresswell *gasp again* Am I the only one who feels cheap soap opera vibes?

I am very sorry I had to let all that spontaneous snark out on one of my ex-favorite series, but my disappointment is so high I had to let it out of my system.

Grand finale:

P.S. I will give book 4 a chance to rehabilitate, because no matter how harsh I am I still believe in second chances and do really really want my OTP Cressworth back.

Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,290 reviews341 followers
July 19, 2018
I started reading Escaping from Houdini on 7/8/18 and finished it on 7/19/18. This book is an excellent read! I find the romance between Thomas and Audrey Rose intoxicating because of their limited time, privacy, and secrecy. I like the sharp tongues exchanges between Audrey and Mephistopheles. I like all the fancy clothes Audrey Rose wears: silks and velvets as well as the decorations to the live shows. I like the mystery to Mephistopheles’ background because he’s always wearing a mask. I like the friction between Thomas, Audrey Rose, and Mephistopheles and their endless witticism/sarcasm/banter/charm/well-timed quips. I can’t tell Mephistopheles’ intentions toward Audrey Rose but the air of mystery makes the read interesting. I like how the characters are good at keeping a poker face in tense situations.

This book is told in the first person point of view following Audrey Rose Wadsworth, 17, as she, Thomas Cresswell, and her Uncle Jonathan Wadsworth, whom readers learned from book 1 that he’s an expert in reading crime scenes are boarding a cruise ship called the Etruria heading to New York. There is entertainment on this cruise ship and the newest entertainer to excite everyone on board is Mephistopheles and his Moonlight Carnival crew. Their performance promises the audience of tricks that will both be dazzling and on the brink of danger. Audiences clap wildly from one act to the next with excitement and eagerness until at last, when there’s a knife protruding from the back of their fellow audience that left a puddle of blood on the floor, no one thought twice that it was a real murder but part of an act. Audrey finds herself trapped on a boat at sea with a murderer on the loose. Audrey, her uncle, and Thomas now find themselves with a dead body to examine and it might not be the only one.

Escaping from Houdini is truly mesmerizing. I love the topic of magic performances and how it all takes place on a cruise. As much as I love following Thomas and Audrey Rose breaking curfews and sneaking out on secret adventures, I do love the change in this book with Thomas having a competitor. It’s interesting how Thomas is still consider a “friend” after all of those stolen moments. I like Mrs. Harvey in this book more than in the previous books. I like the pictures before each chapter, especially the late 19th century circus performers because it gives readers an idea of what’s to come and their costumes are really out there! I love books with epilogues. I couldn’t guess who the murderer is but I did flipped back to read again to see if there were clues I might have missed. This book is a must read and the series shouldn’t be missed. I highly recommend everyone to read it!

Pro: fast paced, page turner, suspense, mystery, cruise, circus, diversity, humor/banter

xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details
Profile Image for Karima chermiti.
812 reviews154 followers
October 8, 2018
#1)Stalking Jack the Ripper : 4 stars
#2)Hunting Prince Dracula : 5 stars

Spoiler warning : This review is filled with spoilers. If you haven’t read this book then you need to stay away unless you don’t care about being spoiled.

After reading and falling in love with Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula , Escaping from Houdini was one of my most anticipated sequels of the fall. It’s really sad that I didn’t love anything about this book. Not only that but my love for the whole series is now tainted and broken and my heart is no longer in it. This book changed the way I looked at the characters and the relationship between them, It changed the way I feel about them as partners and as a couple and it changed my feelings for Audrey, the female protagonist from admiration and love to hate and contempt.

Escaping from Houdini follows a very hormonal Audrey rose while she’s trying to choose between Thomas Creswell, the boy she loved since book one, the boy who stood by her, loved her and was there in her most traumatic experiences and another boy she met only few days Ago. In other worlds, this book is a nightmare of over-used YA tropes and it’s going to haunt me forever.


Love triangles, insta-lust portrayed as love and so many other things made me dislike everything about this book. I could’ve understood the whole mess if this was the first book of the series but this is the third one, I thought we were beyond that, apparently we weren’t. The thing is I don’t mind love triangle when they’re written well and even when they’re not, I just ignore them. But this one is so cheap, so unnecessary, so wrong and so distasteful, that I felt like I was physically in pain. Watching Audrey rose toss everything aside for a boy that she knows nothing about, that spends the time manipulating her and that she just met for few days is simply ridiculous and it made the book like a long journey filled with mediocre angst and drama.

Well, I didn’t sign up for that, I came here for a great murder mystery and that didn’t happen. The mystery was chaotic and nothing the characters did made sense at all and I wasn’t intrigued by the whole Who-Dunnit question, I actually figured it out half through the book and if Rose hadn’t been so focused on her romances, she could’ve too. And what the hell is wrong with the people on that ship, people are being murdered in the most gruesome ways and the passengers are just there enjoying their cruise and having fun.


You don’t get the sense of danger, you don’t get the sense of urgency and the characters are so uncaring about everything that’s going on, so why should I care again. You would think that if a murderer is using the carnival to stage the murders than the carnival will stop making any other show but no they all go on with their lives like nothing tragic has happened giving the murderer many other chances to get away with it.

The characters were destroyed in this book, it feels like it was written by another author who knows nothing about the characters and what they’ve been through. Audrey rose spend the book lying to the people who loved her, especially Thomas, sneaking away with another man, cheating on her boyfriend with that man and being a complete idiot who didn’t notice that she was being used and manipulated.


Thomas spend the book being a brooding side kick who just let Rose do whatever she wanted and waited silently for her to finish her cheating and come back for him. I mean really ? and he actually takes her back. Pathetic. And they don’t even discuss what happened between them, how much it hurt him and how he’s not okay with her doing all the shitty things she did not only to him but to Lisa too. They just kiss and everything is dandy again. like I don't think this how cheating is solved in real life you know, it's ugly, destructive and it creates a rift between people, it's not solved easily like that. I guess I'm asking too much from this book when I want a genuine portrayal of all of that.

Nothing was done well in this book, nothing, from the characters and how they acted, from the mystery and how little development it got. The whole pot made no sense to me. This book is simply that bad.

You know, I can't think about this anymore or I'm gonna catch on fire, so Here’s what I’m going to do, I‘m going to forget I even set eyes on this book, I’m going to pretend that I’ve never read it and I’m going to convince myself that this sequel never happened. It didn’t happen.



Buddy reading this book with My partner in crime


Before reading:

This series hasn't disappointed me so far, let's hope that Escaping from Houdini will keep the magic going.
Profile Image for Kat valentine ( Katsbookcornerreads).
613 reviews809 followers
July 26, 2019
What a fantastic read!!! I simply adore this series from kerri maniscalco!!! She is a amazing storyteller and her books are so very entertaining. I loved the theme of this book and enjoyed all the magic and mayhem. And the use of tarot cards by the murder was genius. Her characters are fabulous as well and I adored mephistopheles he is so mysterious and charming reminding me of a true rogue!!! And Audrey rose and Thomas are a awesome couple,I can't wait for more of their interactions,things are heating up nicely. This was a awesome whodunit and kept me guessing til the end. With so many secretive characters it could have been any of them,but when Cressworth put their minds together the bad guys haven't got a chance. Until next time luv's💖💋
Profile Image for Rachel E. Carter.
Author 9 books3,494 followers
January 27, 2023
This book nearly broke my heart but THANK YOU KERRI that last chapter put it together again. SJTR is still my fave (just because I like when you don't know if the love interest is or isn't the villain and they weren't together yet which made for the best tension) but this definitely out-paced HPD by about a million -the setting and atmosphere were absolutely fantastic and I did love Thomas's competition even if I'm forever rooting for Cresswell.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,709 reviews703 followers
August 16, 2018
I have been on board with these books since SJTR, so when I got my greedy hands on a arc of Houdini, I screamed at my UPS guy.

As always, Audrey Rose and Thomas are perfection. I love their banter and flirting and the way they are true partners in all things. Mephistopheles is an intriguing addition and of course he was quite charming and so infuriating. There is a fairly large cast of secondary characters on the ship and I will admit to not being able to keep up on the passengers, but it didn’t slow me down.

Plot wise it was captivating. I loved that the setting was a ship, so there wasn’t anywhere to go and it made everyone a suspect. I was constantly second guessing everything and the reveals are so deliciously slow. I will say there was a small thread of plot that I wasn’t a fan of — it did make some sense and all that, it just wasn’t something I cared for.

Overall, it might be my favorite of the three, but I’m not ready to commit to that statement. I loved so many things about this story and even though there were scenes and things that made me want to scream, it was so satisfying. I can’t even wait to see what the next book brings.

**Huge thanks to Jimmy Patterson Books for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for celeste.
556 reviews46 followers
September 19, 2018
i'm going to RANT because i have a lot of feelings towards this book and they are not particularly positive.

listen, i fell in love with these characters so much that i was highly anticipating this book mainly because of them. from the get-go the murder mystery in this one wasn't really appealing to me ever since we heard that houdini was gonna be in it, i honestly couldn't have cared less unlike with the previous two books but everything was fine because i still had audrey rose and thomas being that dynamic duo of crime investigators, right? right.......

i was surprised to find out how kerri completely sidelined what was so unique about these books, which is of course the relationship between the two main characters. and i'm not even talking about the 'romantic' aspect of the relationship (though that also played a huge role in my disappointment), but of their professional relationship. the dynamic these two characters had, the constant banter between them and simply them working together and solving crime was what made them unique and so refreshing in my opinion. and that was taken from us in this book for the sake of introducing the third side of a completely unnecessary love triangle. and i guess i would have been more accepting towards this new character if he hadn't happened to be extremely fucking annoying. i couldn't stand the guy or the things he said or the way he kept invading audrey rose's personal space. i just couldn't deal with him, and the fact that him and audrey rose took the spotlight and the majority of this book's scenes pissed me off. it pissed me off because as a consequence of that, thomas cresswell was sidelined and barely in the book.

audrey rose didn't make any fucking sense in the way she behaved towards this new character, and don't come at me with the excuse that she was doing it for 'the sake of the bargain'. bullshit. she said so herself, she was confused about her feelings towards him. you expect me to believe that she's gonna second-guess her feelings for thomas over a guy she just met 5 DAYS AGO?!?! ARE YOU FUCKING WITH ME RIGHT NOW???? unbelievable. i could understand her having doubts over marrying thomas because that's a huge deal, but to second-guess her FEELINGS? not realistic. this book just turned into another ya cliche where authors have to ALWAYS create drama or drive a wedge btw a couple once they become canon, and it's always through a love triangle. it's always the same damn thing. it's like they can't come up with something new or at least something mildly interesting to seperate them. i was half-way through this book and i honestly wanted it to be over.

the only good and redeeming thing in this travesty of a book was thomas cresswell, as little as he was in it. not even the murder mystery was intriguing in this one, it was all over the place, with 0 clues given to the readers for us to at least be mildly engaged into guessing who could be the murderer. this was such a disappointment of a book, and one that i was highly, highly anticipating because i do love these characters but the way that they were written in this one was just not right and i'm really pissed about it.
Profile Image for Danielle.
202 reviews260 followers
November 4, 2018
I love this series so much oh my god give me more please
Profile Image for Grace (BURTSBOOKS).
153 reviews355 followers
October 5, 2018
I think it's safe to say this is the weakest of the series so far in terms of mystery and endings but I enjoyed the carnival theme so much I hardly even cared RTC
Profile Image for Veronika.
482 reviews144 followers
August 20, 2019
A shit ton of books have been battling for "biggest disappointment of 2018" but I think we finally have a winner!?


Jokes aside, this was B A D. The plot was awfully boring and repetitive, the characters felt... different and less well-made than before, and I was SO! ANGRY! at them for how they acted. Audrey Rose, the girl who was finally 1000% ready for this relationship at the end of book 2 was suddenly flirting with a new guy (?) and Thomas somehow lost all his charm and personality. And don't even get me started on Liza or Audrey Rose's uncle - filler characters at their worst. As for, Mephistopheles - has their EVER been a character who was trying THIS hard to be mysterious and brooding? He is the worst example of a character feeling like, well, a character, instead of a person who could be real.

The mystery didn't exactly save the story either - whereas in the first two books my problem was that the culprit was easy to guess, my issue here was the way the killings and their aftermath was handled; it all felt rather unrealistic. Don't tell me that two young women are murdered and brutally showcased during the circus performances of the first two nights, AND no one goes "oh wow, MAYBE we should cancel these??". And I GET IT, the performers and the captain decided against it for their own gain. But the passengers? How on EARTH were they not freaking out, DEMANDING to have their meals taken to their rooms?

Also, WHY do you title a novel after Houdini and then barely have him in the novel? I expected him to have a central role - like mother-effing Mephistopheles - but all Houdini added to the plot could have been added by any character whatsoever.

Will I read the fourth book? I really don't know - this being the utter disappointment it was, I feel more or less done with these characters and the "mysteries" we've been served so far.
Profile Image for Faye*.
317 reviews94 followers
November 12, 2018
This series is a bit like those cosy murder mysteries, and listening to them on audio is just a whole lot of fun. Unfortunately, I think this instalment may be my least favourite. It wasn't bad but I felt myself getting distracted while I was listening, and it just didn't hold the same charm as books 1 and 2. I sincerely hope it was just me this time as I'm definitely planning on listening to the fourth (and final) book.

~~~~~~~~~~~before reading~~~~~~~~~~~
Look at that cover, it's so pretty!! I need this book now!!!! 😍😍😍
Profile Image for gabrielle.
158 reviews92 followers
March 26, 2023
Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell are off to America where their help on another case is needed. First, they get to enjoy a weeklong voyage across the Atlantic with a traveling troupe of circus performers, the Moonlight Carnival. But killers never rest, and their blissful vacation quickly becomes a real-life nightmare as privileged young women begin turning up at gruesome murder scenes. With nowhere to go except the unforgiving sea, the ship quickly becomes the passenger’s prison and the killer’s playground. Can they unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

The answer is no. Maybe they could have if Audrey had actually been working the case instead of traipsing around with the ringmaster, Mephistopheles. After two books of slow-burn romance, I was ready for Thomas and Audrey to finally be together and do some sleuthing. But nope, I was denied and given this garbage of a love triangle.

Nobody asked for a love triangle. It’s not needed, and it’s certainly not wanted.

And the deal Audrey made with the ringmaster that started this entire fiasco was the most ridiculous situation. But I should back up and give some context or none of my ranting is going to make any sense.

For whatever reason, Audrey’s cousin Liza had reportedly gone missing. And surprise, surprise, she turns up on the ship having eloped with one of the performers of the Moonlight Carnival. How convenient.

Now, Mephistopheles was willing to teach Audrey sleight of hand as well as grant access to his performers – so she might discover whether the murderer was within the group – if she would agree to perform in the grand finale. And to sweeten the deal, he would hand over information on Liza’s beloved that would supposedly put an end to their relationship.

One, I don’t know why Audrey was so infatuated with learning sleight of hand in the first place. There was a lot of “magic is another form of science” – please miss me with that bullshit. If you want to learn some magic tricks, that’s totally fine, but maybe do it on your own time and not when you should be searching for a mass murderer.
Second, I did not buy that the only way to gather information about the performers was to “feign” romantic interest in Mephisto. Also, not sure why Audrey was so focused on learning about their pasts as I didn’t see how that was going to help discover the identity of the killer. And look, I was right because it didn’t.
And third, I simply do not understand why Audrey cannot sit down with Liza and have a meaningful conversation. The cousins have had an amazing family bond so far and suddenly she can’t tell her the truth? Oh wait, I forgot this was YA and that discussing literally anything is not an option.

Audrey says she loves Thomas and that he’s her very best friend yet falls for Mephistopheles within a week. She didn’t even know his real name or see his face until nearly the end of the book. This man is full of lies and continuously proves that he’s manipulating the situation with Audrey, and she still defends him at every turn. It’s not that I don’t like Mephisto, I actually really like him. His character was interesting and fun, and Audrey could have had a good platonic relationship with him but nooooo, we get to see her hurt Thomas for an entire book instead.

I didn’t consider myself a Cressworth stan after the first two books, but I did enjoy their relationship. I literally do not think I ever can again. Audrey cheats on Thomas and when he finds out she has feelings for someone else, he isn’t even mad because he respects her and her wishes if she decides she loves someone else. If anything good came out of this book, it’s that I now stan Thomas Cresswell along with everyone else. Audrey Rose does not deserve him.

And sadly, not even the murders were making this story more interesting. The theatrics of how each kill was staged added some gore, but they were lacking suspense. A murder would happen, Audrey and Thomas would work the scene, and then Audrey would waste time hanging out with the carnival performers until the next random attack would happen. Also, they piled up quickly and everything became hard to keep track of. Even when Audrey would pause to rerun through all the specifics, I’d just end up even more confused.

Also, every character was behaving so stupidly (except for Audrey’s uncle and the amazing Thomas Cresswell). There’s literally a serial killer on board and nobody is doing anything. The carnival was still going strong even after there was proof the murderer could be someone from their group. And every time they tried to ask the captain for assistance, I swear this man just shrugged away the problem. You don’t want to make the first class uncomfortable? I think they’d prefer to keep their lives. Lockdown the ship. Or maybe search it. At least stop the carnival performances. Just do something for fuck’s sake.

I did like the solution in the end. It wrapped up the mess going on nicely. And maybe the ending could have continued on this strong path and semi-saved this book for me, but nope. Thomas and Audrey come back together without discussing one single fucking thing that happened. Not one thing. The ship docks, everyone is okay, and they’re back to kissing each other again.

I have no words for how much Escaping from Houdini infuriated me. Actually, that’s a lie. If you’re reading this long review, you know I have plenty of words. Will I read the final installment in this series? Probably – I am a completionist – but I’m definitely going to take a hearty break before attempting to do so. I don’t want my frustration with this story to taint my feelings.


Yup, I was right. Full review to come.


I want to start this but am also apprehensive because I know there's an unnecessary love triangle and I know it's going to infuriate me.

My reviews for:

Stalking Jack the Ripper Series
Book 1: Stalking Jack the Ripper – ★★★☆☆
Book 2: Hunting Prince Dracula – ★★★★☆
Book 3: Escaping from Houdini – ★☆☆☆☆
Book 3.5: Becoming the Dark Prince – ★★☆☆☆
Profile Image for Mara YA Mood Reader.
336 reviews266 followers
January 6, 2020
I’m not sure why I didn’t just give up but I pulled through and it didn’t even pay off.

I think this series should’ve ended with Stalking Jack the Ripper. Hunting Prince Dracula was just okay but it’s not necessary and doesn’t really add much. It just becomes 3 long books of redundant murders and postmortems. And ends with Thomas and Audrey in the same place as they were in book one *insert shrug*

Escaping from Houdini didn’t have much to do about Houdini. And it strays far from the lovely banter and partnership between Thomas and Audrey.
Criminally so.
Thomas is done an injustice in this installment and shamefully cast aside so that a ridiculous love triangle trope can *ridiculously* mar the entire series.


It’s 2019!

How are authors not aware of how much we hate a love triangle in 2019??!!

ESPECIALLY when Love Interest Number 2 enters the scene in a span of a week and completely enraptures Main Character 1 sooooo much that they toss aside Original Love Interest like rubbish and are ready to run off into the bloody sunset with some random bloke!

This book was all about the mysterious and horny Love Interest Number 2 named Mephistopheles. I loved his character. He was brilliant. BUT I felt like he didn’t belong here in this book. A rooky mistake by a new writer perhaps. She created a great character, got too excited and inserted him into the wrong place, wrong book, wrong time??

Hmmm...or perhaps a brilliant move?? You’ve got your fan base, they’re already excited, maybe it’s the perfect way to slip in a spinoff that’ll be well received......

It was painful to see his character get wasted this way. He must be redeemed by a spin-off. I’d read that. But leave Thomas and Audrey out of it.

As for the plot *sigh* it was redundant. Constant murders, constant sleuthing, slow attempts at crime solving round and round and round again. By book 3 you’re done. The postmortem interest and curiosity and cheering for women’s rights in the Victorian era are satiated in book 1 but it just keeps going and going and the relationship or romance that’s holding it all together isn’t advancing and it all fizzles out.

All in all I appreciate what Maniscalco did with the books. I love a good historical romance/fiction/mystery, and although I had more dislikes than likes I was still entertained and I enjoyed her characters.

And if Mephistopheles gets his own series I will be there.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,092 reviews6,578 followers
June 21, 2020
1.) Stalking Jack the Ripper ★★★.5
2.) Hunting Prince Dracula ★★★.5
3.) Escaping From Houdini DNF


DNF'd 5 hours into the audiobook.

I'm honestly just bored and am not that invested in this series anyway and i'd rather be reading other things!
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