Book: Hunting Prince Dracula
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper, #2
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: YA mystery, historical fiction
My Rating: ★★★★
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.
This review might contain spoilers from the first book, Stalking Jack the Ripper.
I always enjoy a good, creepy mystery. And I especially love it when the book is set in the 1880’s with a powerful, feminist message.
In Hunting Prince Dracula, Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell embark on a new “adventure”; they’re both vying for a spot at the Academy of Forensic Medicine and Science in Romania. By far the setting and story line alone is my favorite among the two books in this series. There is nothing I love more than a castle with a dark history, plus all the forensic/medical speak. It makes my heart so happy.
The book starts with a murder on a train, and the deaths do not stop there. Bodies keep turning up at the academy, and soon Audrey Rose and Thomas team up once again to investigate these gruesome murders. Stories of local legends of Dracula (aka Vlad the Impaler) and monsters in the forest circulate around the school, and the deaths mimic that of a vampire causing everyone to be put under suspicion.
What I loved about this book was how PTSD was addressed. Audrey Rose is still reeling from the aftermath of the Ripper case. Her family is torn apart. And as much as she loves forensics, she deals with the anxiety when performing autopsies because it reminds her so much of what happened with her brother’s gruesome experiments on their mother.
And let’s not forget Thomas Cresswell, who has unlocked Book Boyfriend Status. Please give me all the swoony Thomas one-liners please. He witty humor is such a treat and I love how feminist he is. I also adore his mind; it reminds me so much of Sherlock Holmes. I could sit down and read chapter after chapter of how he deduces a murder scene. In fact, I really wish Maniscalco included a dual POV between Audrey Rose and Thomas.
However, one thing that usually falls flat for me in this series is the ending/culprit. I don’t want to compare a YA mystery with an adult mystery, but I’ve read a lot of adult thrillers/mysteries to know my tastes. And usually that means I prefer mysteries where we are presented with several potential suspects where they all each have a big motive. I want subtle clues and bread crumbs. In both of Maniscalco’s books, I feel like the suspects don’t get much screen time, the red herrings are obvious, and what’s supposed to be the big reveal or “ah ha!” moment ends up being anticlimactic. In this case I also felt like the ending was very rushed.
Overall I still immensely enjoyed this story and I loved it way more than the first book. The academy reminded me of a creepier version of Hogwarts, which I thoroughly adored. I still highly recommend this book based on the overall ambiance, school setting, and you get lotssss of Thomas Cresswell!
I am currently reading an ARC of the third installment, Escaping From Houdini, which I will post the review soon!