Publication date: September 18, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, & Young Adult Fiction.
No. of chapters: 41 (plus an extra chapter in the B&N edition)
No. of pages: 431
Setting: RMS Etruria, 1889
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?
Audrey Rose: She is the curious and daring main character of the book. She experiences her most challenging case as she embarks to a new adventure to America along with her uncle and Thomas. She is challenged intellectually and emotionally as she figures out the identity of a new killer.
Thomas Cresswell: Thomas is charming and smart. He is part of the main team investigating the murders in the RMS Etruria and Audrey Rose's partner. His trust, intellect and courage are tested in this book.
Mephistopheles: He is the ringmaster in the circus that travels as main entertainment for the RMS Etruria. He is mysterious and as confident nd cocky as Thomas, but he hides his identity behind a mask.
Lisa: Audrey Rose's cousin. She runs away from home to follow her lover, Harry Houdini, and joins the circus act. Lisa is a hopeless romantic.
Harri Houdini: He's an American escape artists. Friends with Mephistopheles and lover to Lisa. He's driven by ambition and always pushes his limits to be the best.
Of all the books in this series, this is my least favorite. With this said, I still loved it and I will break down the reasons for my conclusion in the spoiler section below. Anyways, Here is the reason why I think you should read it: there is romance and Maniscalgo demonstrates a wicked killer with deep motivations. There are many well developed characters in this book and the imagery of the scene descriptions make this a ride worth taking. Everyone is a suspect, and there is a record of murdered people in this book! The RMS Etruria is basically a murder ship with only Audrey Rose, Thomas and Jonathan Wadsworth to find out who the killer is.
As always, I love the historical elements Maniscalgo weaves into the story, which makes it all feel too real.
This book can be read independently from the others, although I do recommend reading the series in order.
• Harry Houdini was too young to be part of the story, so Kerri maniscalgo made him a little older . In 1889 he would have been fifteen, and he began performing at the age of 17, in 1891. In the story, she made him 17.
• The killer of this book was inspired by someone who was known as "The Bavarian Ripper", who killed between 1806-1808 (almost a century before the setting of the book). Maniscalgo used many aspects of this killer, like the way he lured his victims in and his first name, which is why I don't mention it because you would know who the killer is. If you aren't scared of spoilers, you can read more about him here.
• Mephistopheles is the name of a demon that works for Lucifer. He is featured in German folklore and I think Maniscalgo used the name to evoke the mood for mischief. In the play Doctor Faustus by Marlowe, Mephistopheles convinces Faustus to sell his soul to the devil. Quite the symbolism in the story, since the Mephistopheles in EFH is the ringmaster of a circus made of outcasts.
What I loved:
• Might sound wicked, but the creativity behind the murders is outstanding. Their resemblance to tarot cards is something that makes you think about the killer's motivations every time a new clue presents itself.
• AR, her uncle and Thomas make a great investigation team! I loved the undercover investigation.
• The romance! I am weak for AR and Thomas Cresswell.
• Mephistopheles was as charming as he was mysterious and manipulating. I found a lot of his character mirrored Thomas' and I was totally okay with that.
• The diversity of the circus characters and their back stories!
What I didn't like:
• Audrey Rose doubting her love for Thomas. I mean, Mephistopheles mirrors him so much, and she's supposed to pretend to have a romantic relationship with him that I understand, but why?!
• There is also not enough Thomas Cresswell throughout the book.
• Was destroying Lisa's relationship necessary? I mean, I don't know if Houdini truly had a lover, but to me he seemed to be writing to his mother. And the fact that Mephistopheles manipulated Audrey Rose to work with him only to take the "blindfold away from Lisa's eyes". Why not just be straightforward?
Thank you for reading this review, I really hope it helps you start reading the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, or continue the series by picking up Escaping From Houdini.
You can read my review for Stalking Jack the Ripper here, my review for Hunting Prince Dracula here, and if you are looking forward to the last book in this series, Capturing the Devil, you can read an excerpt here.
I am currently reading Sky in the Deep, and hope to finish it in the next week. I will try my best to have the review ready as soon as I'm done reading it.
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Comment any book recommendations or your thoughts on this book/series. Did you enjoy it as much as I did, or is it still in your TBR pile?