Title: Hunting Prince Dracula (#2, Stalking Jack the Ripper)
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Publication Date: Sept. 19, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: Audio book, Library, Hardcover, Purchased
My Rating: ★★★★½
In this New York Times bestselling sequel to Kerri Maniscalco’s haunting #1 debut Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?
Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.
But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.
As a new fan of the series, I could not wait to dive into this book and see what mysteries Audrey Rose and Thomas would uncover in Romania! I mentioned in my review for Stalking Jack the Ripper that the cover for this book is was what first caught my eye and what ultimately lead me to starting the series. The cover follows the same style as the first book, featuring an image of a woman in the 19th century with an overlay of a landscape of the story’s setting on her dress, and is absolutely gorgeous. It immediately piqued my interest because it looked like such an intriguing, mysterious, historical fiction – a genre I had not had much exposure to previously – novel.
Things I Liked:
I cannot gush about Audrey Rose enough! The horrific events of the Ripper case has left a poignant impact on her, to the point where she fears that her skills on forensics has been compromised, but that doesn’t affect her determination and dedication to her studies or to discovering the perpetrator of these new series of murders. I admire her so much and love how there’s so many layers to her character. Not only is she capable of expertly cutting open a cadaver and extracting organs without so much as flinching, but she’s also fond of dresses and is afraid of spiders and bats. Audrey Rose is literally the type of heroine I never knew I’d been looking for until I met her in Stalking Jack the Ripper.
It’s also a given that I have to gush about Thomas Cresswell too because how could I not?! I love how we get to know even more about Thomas, particularly his Romanian side of the gene pool and oh boy, is it fascinating. There was one point where I was filled with so much worry for Thomas because of his connections through his lineage that I literally had chills. We also get to see the relationship between Audrey Rose and Thomas expounded and developed even further, which gave me life! These two are definitely one of my top favorite YA couples; I have so much fun reading their banter with each other, it always makes me laugh and fangirl. Oh, and we also get to meet someone from his family who I absolutely love to bits! Next to Audrey Rose, she’s my next favorite female character.
I haven’t read many books with creepy old castles in them, much less an iconic one such as Dracula’s castle, but this was actually one of my favorite settings. From the moment our heroes arrive at Bran castle we instantly get a sense of foreboding. The creepiness factor just escalates from then on with the revelation of a murderer on the loose with possible ties to Dracula and the castle itself. Not to mention the discovery of miles of secret tunnels hidden underneath the castle, filled with dark history and its own dark secrets. As eerie as it was exploring the secret tunnels, it was also really exciting because it reminded me so much of The Mummy and the adventures Rick O’Connell and Evelyn Carnahan got into (one of my favorite fictional couples!).
Uncovering clues and trying to solve the mystery and find the murderer with Audrey Rose and Thomas was so fun (as usual). Despite the general populace of Romania believing that there was a supernatural creature roaming about and hunting people down, Audrey Rose and Thomas didn’t allow such superstitious beliefs hinder them from discovering the true culprit. The mystery kept me on the edge of my seat and constantly thinking, trying to figure out who the real murderer was, alongside our protagonists. With each new revelation unveiled, new layers to the mystery were uncovered that just kept me guessing and guessing. Also, as usual, I love how Kerri was able to combine such a spooky environment with strong ties to supernatural stories, to science and reason, grounding the story with reality and the study of forensics.
Things I Disliked:
The only critique I have for this book is I felt that the climax where the antagonist is dealt with felt a little underwhelming. I was shocked to discover who the true culprit was because I had already dismissed them, but the way this person was defeated felt a bit too easy and anticlimactic. I was expecting more of an explosive and nail-biting confrontation similar to the one in Stalking Jack the Ripper.
A cleverly crafted murder mystery, twists and turns abound, and gripping adventure to be had within the depths of Dracula’s castle, Hunting Prince Dracula had me at the edge of my seat with suspense, swooning over the romance, and laughing with the humorous banter between Audrey Rose and Thomas. This is a sequel not to be missed!
About the Author:
Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.
Have you started the Stalking Jack the Ripper series yet? If you have, please discuss and/or fangirl with me in the comments! I’d love to know your thoughts!