Book Review

Hunting Prince Dracula

Hunting Prince Dracula

  • Author: Kerri Maniscalco
  • Genre: YA Historical Fiction
  • Publication Date: September 19, 2017
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #2

CONTENT WARNING: gore, blood, murder

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bone white. Blood red. Along this path, you’ll soon be dead.

Following the horrifying revelation of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth flees her home in Victorian London to enroll as the only female student in Europe’s most prestigious forensics school. But it’s impossible to find peace in the dark, unsettling Romanian castle that houses the school—and was also once home to the depraved Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Prince Dracula.

When a series of troubling deaths brings whispers of Vlad’s bloodthirsty return from the grave, Audrey Rose and her sharp-witted companion, Thomas Cresswell, must unravel the cryptic clues that will lead them to the shadowlike killer—living or dead.

My favorite Victorian characters have returned to an even darker and more atmospheric setting in this book. Audrey Rose and Thomas head to Romania to escape the aftermath of the Jack the Ripper case, and further their education in forensics. However, the drama starts before they even arrive, with a shocking murder on the train. 

Audrey is mentally struggling as well, which is absolutely to be expected from any reasonable human being, after what she’s been through. She’s stubborn and strong-willed, which I wasn’t sure was the best move at first, but as the book went on, I realized she absolutely knew what was best for her all along. I admired and loved her in Stalking Jack the Ripper, but this book really brought out who she is as a person, and how she gets through tough times. She has a way of looking at every situation from all angles, even the ones that are hard to see when you’re involved in them:

“Vlad was a folk hero who’d fought for his countrymen, using any means necessary to defeat his enemies. Something other countries and their beloved kings and queens did as well. Monsters were in the eye of the beholder. And no one wanted to discover their hero was the true villain of the story.”

Once again, feminism is a strong theme throughout the story. We already know that Audrey Rose is a staunch feminist, but seeing the other feminists around her was a breath of fresh air. This wasn’t a popular school of thought in Victorian England, but seeing Audrey Rose constantly buck tradition in small ways was a beautiful thing. Not everyone in the story appreciated it as much as I did. One person in particular did something that shook Audrey’s world and made her feel as though they were trying to exert control over her life. Which as you know, is a no-fly zone for her:

“I could feel my autonomy slipping from my grasp each time … offered advice on what I ought to do. Wasn’t that how it happened? Basic rights and wants were slowly eroded by someone else’s idea of how one should act.”

There was some queer rep in the story, which I loved seeing! I found the way that certain other characters approached the topic to be especially endearing, since from my understanding, this was another thing that wasn’t exactly acceptable in high society. Much like going out without gloves, spending time around the opposite sex without a chaperone, females not wearing corsets or dresses, or society women doing anything other than having tea, sewing, shopping, and gossiping.

The romance is this story is there, simmering slowly under the surface. There is so much tension between Audrey and Thomas you could cut it with a knife, and I was here for every single minute of it. It was written so well, that I was almost crawling out of my skin waiting for them to kiss. Or something. Anything! Even Audrey was feeling it:

“Lord help me, I wanted this case to be over soon. If I didn’t kiss Thomas, I might very well combust to ashes.”

This book is a masterpiece. It’s got everything that I love to read in a story: action, mystery, romance, plot twists, a murderer I couldn’t figure out despite all my best efforts, and the creepiest historical setting that made me shiver with anticipation. I love how Maniscalco can take history and weave in a compelling mystery and enough hints of a romance to keep me reading late into the night. Even the ending was fabulous. It wrapped everything up beautifully, but still left me ready to jump into the next book.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 14

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