Sigh. Despite my deep dislike for Escaping from Houdini, which seems to grow stronger each day, I was really hopeful and excited to see how thisSigh. Despite my deep dislike for Escaping from Houdini, which seems to grow stronger each day, I was really hopeful and excited to see how this series would end. While I am not as disappointed in Capturing the Devil as I expected to be (I think lowering my expectations may have saved me here), I am left feeling rather conflicted about my thoughts overall.
Sir Isaac Mewton. Need I say more?
I absolutely adore the relationship between Eliza and Audrey Rose. Their banter and friendship give me life. Throughout the series, Audrey Rose has slowly been building her found family and it is nice to see her coming into her own, finding her own place at the fringes of society. She can wear pretty dresses and host extravagant birthday parties, but she also fights to give a voice to the victims of murder in a time when the profession is frowned upon by polite society. It was refreshing to see her confidence grow and be taken seriously in America.
While you can't really call the romance between Audrey Rose and Thomas slow-burn, the book finally gets a little steamy (but tasteful and no on-page sex described). The care Maniscalco gives to their blossoming relationship, which has always toed the lines of what was acceptable for the times, over the course of the series is exciting. I also appreciated that consent is featured and normalized.
"We humans could not help loving our monsters."
Creepy investigations are back, my friends! The whole murder mystery aboard the RMS Ertruria wasn't as engaging, which bums me out because the macabre investigating duo is precisely what draws me to this series. I don't tend to read the synopsis before reading a book, so the investigations in America leading to the Murder Hotel in Chicago was a delightful surprise for me.
"I long to live in a world where equal treatment is not something in need of commending."
I found the overall plotting for the series, the investigations, and the travels to be incredibly well done. Having read all four books now, you can see the connections and the overall theory that Maniscalco wanted to explore with these infamous murder cases. And while I know some readers didn't enjoy the murderer in this book, I actually enjoyed it and the connections.
The Disappointing(for me)
The pacing for this book was dreadfully uneven to me. The first and last 100 pages had me on the edge of my seat, blissfully engaged and eager to continue reading. Unfortunately, the middle 300-pages languished with unnecessary drama and obstacles, detracting from the murder investigations.
"The devil was a monster, but I would become his nightmare."
Speaking of obstacles, we need to talk about Lord Cresswell. (view spoiler)[Thomas' father, Lord Cresswell, has been absent during the course of the series thus far. So color me surprised when he suddenly shows an interest in his son's life, or rather, his son's desire to marry someone other than a match he tried to make prior to Thomas meeting Audrey Rose. Surprise! Thomas' betrothed shows up to their wedding last minute, brandishing a letter with Thomas' signature promising betrothal.
I might have been a little forgiving about this had the whole problem been rendered moot at the end of the book. I'd still be pissed about how it affected the pacing of the book, but the fact that as soon as Audrey Rose and Thomas follow the murderer to Chicago the problem essentially solved itself at the end of the book? Fuck. That. Thomas' father threatens to disown him, as well as out Daciana and Iliana's relationship should Thomas not comply with the betrothal to Miss Whitehall, and at the end of the book everyone is just happy? What?
It's needlessly dramatic and I don't think it does anything for the characters. Like there's no character growth that came from this; I really dislike torturing characters for the sake of it, it's one of my pet peeves. And the fact that Lord Cresswell goes unchallenged at the end grinds my gears. (hide spoiler)] In my opinion, the book would have been a lot better had this entire subplot been removed from the book. We didn't need it and it dragged the plot. And in the end, it meant nothing in deus ex machina fashion.
Overall, this is a satisfying end to the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, even though its pacing suffers from what I consider to be an unnecessary subplot. Thomas is still charming as hell and honestly boyfriend goals, and Audrey Rose has grown so much in the course of the series. This installment has the macabre horror I found lacking in the last book satisfying my itch for murder and mayhem.
This was a buddy read with my lovely friends Destiny and Reg!