Pride, Prejudice and puzzles — The Jane Austen Escape Room Book Review

from Waterstones
RRP  £19.99
Jane Austen Escape Room book and Jane Austen

by Kaylie MacKenzie |
Updated on

Does the combination of Regency romance and escape room story provide an elegant solution?

While escape rooms have been increasing in popularity for years, escape room books are newly on the rise, with plenty of room for new genres on a similar theme. The Jane Austen Escape Room Book certainly presents a very different experience to our previously-reviewed The Alcatraz Escape Room: much more pastoral and genteel.

The blessing of beauty

The Jane Austen Escape Room Book is beautiful; every page is illustrated, with clues worked into the illustrations. Even the hints at the back of the book have been disguised as newspaper clippings, a delightful surprise which also serves to make them hints you still have to puzzle out and not just clear instructions. (If you can’t work out the hints, never fear, the full solutions are at the end of the book.)

The double-sided nature of book pages also allowed certain puzzles to pull off really cool effects — especially Puzzle Number Three: The Letter from Charlotte, one of the highlights of the book!

Jane Austen Escape Room Book page

Surprises are foolish things

‘Escape room’ isn’t really the right name for this book. Elizabeth Bennet isn’t trapped anywhere and trying to escape, it’s more just a series of themed puzzles tied into the story of Elizabeth solving a problem. Not only that but there’s nothing in the book which relies upon the puzzles being solved. You don’t need to work out a code to know which page to turn to. If you got stuck, you could simply turn the next page and it would tell you the answer without even looking in the back. That doesn’t necessarily spoil the experience, but it’s something that could have been improved.

The Jane Austen theming is impressively complete: the puzzles are presented in tasks Elizabeth Bennet might genuinely be expected to perform, such as learning the steps of a country dance, deciding who sits where at a dinner party or putting together a bouquet using the language of flowers. You don’t need an encyclopaedic knowledge of Jane Austen to enjoy the book, though there is at least one puzzle where it’ll certainly help if you remember at least the names of Pride and Prejudice’s main characters.

Jane Austen Escape Room Book page

That said, the actual prose is only average, which is perhaps to be expected when the story isn’t the main focus. Some of the dialogue is a little stilted, with people saying things for the puzzle in ways nobody would truly speak. Mr Collins, never a subtle figure, is so heavy-handedly obnoxious as not to feel like a real person. However, the writer did pack in some delightful moments with Mrs Bennet, so it’s not all bad by any means.

“The answer is no, but for Mrs Bennet, the matter is settled. Postponing the meal and, in a sense, the weddings of her two daughters is out of the question”

A happy ending?

There’s a nice mix of different puzzle types for every kind of solver: visual puzzles like mazes and jigsaws; traditional favourites such as a wordsearch and codes to break; puzzles that rely on reading comprehension (very appropriate!) and some which rely on surprising leaps of intuition. None of the puzzles are very difficult, but some are presented without much direct guidance about how to solve them, so it’s up to the reader to figure out.

Overall, The Jane Austen Escape Room Book is a charming way to spend a day, and would make a fabulous gift for the Jane Austen enthusiast in your life!

The Jane Austen Escape Room Book (Andrews McMeel) is on sale now, £19.99

by Marjolein Bastin

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