Ya'll, I cannot even tell you how disappointed I was in this book. I devoured Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula, because this was YA I could get behind: young woman learns what is, essentially, early forensics, accompanies her uncle solving gruesome mysteries, exchanges sexy banter with said uncle's apprentice. This is everything I want in books: murder, female agency, Victorian times, gothic stuff, sexy-witty times (with no actual sex. Almost every book needs more murder and less sex).
I waited a year for the next book in the series to come out, stalking the author on Goodreads and Insta and everything for each little update.
What this book didn't need: gratuitously gory murders to the point of humor, and a love triangle.
You know what the world of books needs less of? LOVE TRIANGLES. Especially in YA books. No more poor plucky girls rising up to overthrow Patriarchies, either. I dislike YA books, by and large, because of their sameness. What made this series unique was how un-YA it was. The stories are tropey, sure, but I felt like Maniscalco was being authentic--telling a fun story and being lighthearted in the places where she fell too far down the trope hole. They were cleverly unpolished, which made them seem more genuine. I mean, let's be real: no young woman in the Victorian was cutting open bodies. It's not a realistic series, but it was a damn good time.
This last book was ridiculous. It's like her publishers gave her a list of terrible YA things to include and wouldn't publish the book without it.
This book was long-winded, the edgelord murders dull and almost comical, the new characters unrealistic, flat, and unnecessary, and the existing characters extremely OOC. Not to mention, the book is named after Houdini and I'm not sure he says more than like, a sentence.
Cannot recommend, and can't really say I'm excited about Book #4. I'll give it a glance over to see if Maniscalco (who seems like a really good, cool person I'd like to be friends with) redeems herself and her characters, but I'm not hyped like I was for this one. Most people seem to disagree with me, though, as the reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
I do recommend Stalking Jack the Ripper, though, which was a fun ride from start to finish even if it was a little predictable. Hunting Prince Dracula teetered on the line of where I was willing to suspend my disbelief (a co-ed forensics school held inside Dracula's castle? REALLY?), and was also gratuitously gory (there's one scene that features a LITERAL bathtub full of blood), but the character development and relationship between Audrey Rose and Thomas kept me going. Also Dracula. Anything with Dracula is probably better than things without Dracula.
Houdini made me want to exsanguinate myself. No, thanks.