#BookReview – Mrs. Houdini by Victoria Kelly

A captivating debut novel, meticulously researched and beautifully imagined, about the passionate marriage of Harry and Bess Houdini—a love story that defied death itself.

Before escape artist Harry Houdini died, he vowed he would find a way to speak to his beloved wife Bess from beyond the grave using a coded message known only to the two of them. When a widowed Bess begins seeing this code in seemingly impossible places, it becomes clear that Harry has an urgent message to convey. Unlocking the puzzle will set Bess on a course back through the pair’s extraordinary romance, which swept the illusionist and his bride from the beaches of Coney Island, to the palaces of Budapest, to the back lots of Hollywood. When the mystery finally leads Bess to the doorstep of a mysterious young photographer, she realizes that her husband’s magic may have been more than just illusion.

In surprising turns that weave through the uncertain days of the dawn of the twentieth century and continue into the dazzling 1920s, Mrs. Houdini is a thrilling tale that will take you deep into the heart of one of history’s greatest love stories—asking what drives people to believe in something bigger than themselves—even as it reveals the famous magician’s most remarkable feat of all. 

I received the ebook in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley and Atria Books.


Mrs. Houdini, by Victoria Kelly, left too much to be desired for me. The book started slow and I expected that but then it stayed slow and got slower. I wanted to read about a love story and it felt like I was reading more about the regrets of a widow and the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s of her life.

The book is melancholy throughout and I just felt very sad each time I opened the book. The book made me dislike Harry Houdini and since I didn’t know much about him before I think that sucks. He seemed like a very self-absorbed man who loved his mother and an audience more than he loved a woman he asked to marry him after only knowing for mere hours.

I did enjoy searching with Bess for meaning after Harry died and felt that pain for her, to be separated from the love of your life is not something I’ve yet to deal with and hope not to for many years. What was equally sad to me was that she never had a child that she so desperately yearned for, those things stick out to me in stories now, she would have been an amazing mother.

The characters just never really sparked for me and that made me sad. I was so eager to read about this amazing magician and his wife and I felt jilted page after page. The book itself was filled with interesting stories but not enough to really make you not want to put the book down. It actually took me a long while to read this book because it lacked any pull for me.

I think Victoria Kelly is actually a very talented writer and I want to read more stories she’s written but this book simply wasn’t for me.


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