Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco
YA Historical Fiction, Mystery
Hardcover, 434 pages
Haunted by the true identity of Jack the Ripper and all of the unfortunate aftermath of book 1, the smart and determined Audrey Rose Wadsworth travels to Romania with the infuriatingly charming Thomas Cresswell, intending to study at one of Europe’s most prestigious schools for forensic medicine…which also happens to be the castle of Vlad the Impaler, a.k.a. Prince Dracula. When bodies turn up with stakes through their hearts and their blood completely drained, Audrey and Thomas are compelled to investigate.
You can read my review for Stalking Jack the Ripper here. I love the premise of Maniscalco’s series which is that they are all twists on actual and already horrific myths and legends. The time period is the late 19th century having that lovely Victorian air, but the writing is appropriately gothic – dark and terrifying (alleviated by Thomas Creswell’s unending charm and wit of course).
Considering society’s expectations of women (particularly young women), Audrey Rose is an absolute rebel. Refusing to be a caged bird, pretty to look at and obedient to the men in her life, Audrey prefers observing corpses and solving murder cases. But since the events of book 1, her forensic passions have been difficult to pursue and so leaving for forensic school with Thomas in Romania seems like the perfect solution.
It was nice to read about Audrey’s balance between wanting to be her own person while also being totally vulnerable (if you know what happened in the previous book, you’d understand why she’s still shaken from its events). Observing her struggle to continue her forensic studies and having to once again deal with death and gore was a realistic experience as the author could have chosen to make Audrey this impenetrable force who after solving one case can so easily move on to another. I was almost annoyed with her at times when she lashed out at Thomas, accusing him of thinking he knows what’s best for her. But I think this sort of susceptible side of her definitely makes her more human.
Speaking of Thomas, he is as perfect as ever. He undoubtedly has the best lines in this entire book and is giving many of my most beloved bookfriends a run for their money.
Here is just one example:
“For there are no limits to the stars, their numbers infinite. Which is precisely why I measure my love for you by the stars. An amount too boundless to count.”
I mean seriously – how beautiful is that? I do feel, at times, that Thomas’ perfection (his wickedly funny attitude, his cleverness, his unwavering love for Audrey) is forced – like the author is trying very hard to make him the best book boyfriend out there. Honestly, he’s almost too understanding and there were moments when I really did think Audrey doesn’t deserve him.
Compared to book 1, this one definitely did a better job of stumping me (that was my main complaint about Stalking). I do feel this story dragged a bit and I think it was because of Audrey’s inner struggles–constantly worrying about loving Thomas but scared of being trapped, missing her family, being traumatized after the events of the previous book.
Verdict: I really did love book 1, but this definitely topped it! I’m really looking forward to the next installment, Escaping from Houdini!
The cover is just stunning! In Hunting Prince Dracula, Liza (Audrey’s cousin) mentions that she flirted with a magician/escape artist…anyone think that might be the connection to book 3?!
*Reading challenge update: 21/200