***Disclaimer: All opinions are my own.***
“You are not mine to take. You are yours to give.”
– Kerri Maniscalco, Hunting Prince Dracula
Hunting Prince Dracula Review
**BE WARNED – CONTAINS SPOILERS**
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco is the sequel to Stalking Jack The Ripper and the second installment in the Stalking Jack The Ripper series. Hunting Prince Dracula continues the story of Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell as they escape the events (and memories) of London by traveling to Romania to attend one of Europe’s best institutions for forensic medicine. However, once they arrive, it is clear that their time in Vlad the Impaler’s domain will be anything but uneventful as people start turning up dead from their blood being drained or stakes to the heart. With the murders appearing ‘vampiric’ in nature, the community is on high alert, fearing that Dracula himself is back to quenching his notorious blood lust. With another serial killer on the loose, Wadsworth and Cresswell, once again, must work together to solve these murders in order to stop whoever (or whatever) from striking again.
Just like Jack the Ripper, the legend of Prince Dracula is no stranger to the spotlight. With vampires persistently showing up in the media, the legend of Prince Dracula is hard to ignore. However, with the media’s benign portrayal of vampires, it is easy to overlook the true brutality that stains the legend. In fact, the legend of Prince Dracula actually begins with Vlad the Impaler. Vlad the Impaler is most famously known for his brutality he exerted during his rule; more importantly, his favorite way of dispensing his enemies. One incident that highlights this grim nature is when Vlad invited guests to a banquet. Knowing that these particular guests would challenge his authority, he had his guest stabbed and impaled on spikes. This desire for blood is what fuels the legend of Prince Dracula and further drives the legend of vampires. With some details of the legend having unknown origins in addition to the aspect of the infamous blood lust, the myth of Prince Dracula makes for a perfect serial killer type figure to exploit.
As previously stated, I have a tendency to gravitate towards anything dark and foreboding. With this personality in addition to my love of vampires (thank you Twilight) and my love of Wadsworth and Cresswell, I knew right away that reading Hunting Prince Dracula was a must. Hunting Prince Dracula not only allowed me to jump back into the world of Stalking Jack The Ripper, but it also allowed me to explore the legend of Prince Dracula from a new perspective. With Hunting Prince Dracula, I was learning about the aspects of the myth through the eyes of the logical Audrey Rose Wadsworth. As a woman of science, she does not easily believe the tale of a larger than life figure. She needs the facts before she can come to a conclusion. Studying the tale of Prince Dracula through her eyes was actually quite refreshing. Most protagonists of vampire stories do not question the presence of this mythical creature. Therefore, readers do not usually get the opportunity to explore the ‘theoretical’ science behind the legend. This unique perspective on the Prince Dracula legend is only one of many phenomenal aspects that Maniscalco incorporated into her story.
Similar to Stalking Jack the Ripper, Maniscalco continued developing her magical mending abilities. These magical mending abilities originated in Stalking Jack The Ripper and are, in my opinion, an excellent story telling technique. As a visual person, these pictorial references greatly expand my understanding and, as a result, my ability to be sucked into the story. In addition, without these photographs, I fear I may miss key aspects of the story. One specific instance where the visual reference assisted my overall understanding was when the forensic medicine class was performing an autopsy. Before the first incision was made, a student, Nicolae, used the carbolic steam spray to clean the surgical theatre. This carbolic steam spray is used to avoid contamination and smells of antiseptic. With no previous knowledge of medical cleansing procedures, I immediately wondered what this carbolic steam spray looked like. Was it contained in a can, like air freshener? Was it created by combining chemicals?
Luckily, my curiosity did not sit for long. Maniscalco started the chapter with a picture of the carbolic steam spray contraption. This contraption is impressive to say the least; it is definitely not an air freshener can. It is a machine with multiple parts and chains. With this visual representation, I can now further appreciate the lengths that these students go to preserve their environment, which in turn preserves their study and passion. Other photographs included in the novel depict Romania and Bran Castle. These photographs further portray the environment Audrey Rose and Thomas find themselves in and highlight the overall dark and spooky atmosphere of the story. In all, these photographs are not just amazing to look at, but they are also amazing for what they add to the story.
After the events of Stalking Jack The Ripper, Audrey Rose Wadsworth is not completely on her game. Through her grieving, she is experiencing delusions that sometimes impact her reality. At one point, Audrey Rose is seriously worried that she will not be able to continue following her dreams because of these delusions.
Nevertheless, Audrey Rose persists in following her passion. She also persists in being a strong and determined woman. As a female, in a male dominated institution, Audrey Rose faces criticism and backlash from fellow classmates, even Thomas. However, in true Audrey fashion, she pulls up her gloves and continues to prove them all wrong. Throughout Hunting Prince Dracula, my admiration for Audrey Rose grew. Her ability to stay strong in times of inner and outer turmoil is astonishing. She is so confident in who she is and who she wants to be that obstacles are no match for her. The scene where she confronts Thomas after he discloses her ‘condition’ to one of the professors is one of my favorites (sorry Thomas!). She says “I refuse to be governed by anything other than my own will, Cresswell…I would rather perish an old maid that subject myself to a life with you and your best intentions.” While my bias towards Thomas makes her sound a bit harsh, I still love that she is not willing to bend to a man’s wishes. She is her own person who can make her own decisions. Her future husband will consider her as an equal and nothing less. Audrey Rose and her strong tenacity make her one of my all-time favorite fictional women.
As the hopeless romantic that I am, the growth of the romantic relationship between Audrey Rose and Thomas in Hunting Prince Dracula was the ultimate highlight of the novel. The story literally opens with Audrey Rose and Thomas travelling to Romania together (with a chaperone that is almost always passed out but still). The two are literally confined inside a carriage for an extended period of time. What more can a girl want? Even when Audrey Rose and Thomas are at odds with each other, their scenes are still beautiful. Their devotion to each other is so evident through their actions that I literally have to look away and gather my emotions. For instance, Thomas actually scales (picture Thomas as Spiderman) the castle to get to Audrey Rose’s room. Granted, Thomas is being Thomas in this scene, but the lengths he is willing to go (without getting caught) for Audrey Rose makes me fangirl. Another scene that I adore is when they are scouring the underground tunnels. While in the tunnels, they come across a series of fascinating yet challenging puzzles. One of the puzzles seriously threatens the lives of Wadsworth and Cresswell.
Luckily, Audrey Rose, being the smart and determined woman that she is, was able to solve the puzzle and pull not only herself but also a semi-unconscious Thomas to safety. I have mentioned it before and I will say it again; I love scenes where one half of the (hinted) couple is in peril and the other half has to save them. Those types of scenes tend to unearth the hidden desires and emotions of the characters; most of the time, they begin to realize what the other person really means to them. However, the absolute best scene out of the entire book was when Audrey Rose accepts Thomas’ hand in marriage. Yes, you read that right, marriage! What makes this scene even better is knowing that Thomas has learned from his earlier mistakes. He will not force Audrey Rose to do anything just because he thinks it is in her best interest; he will support her and stand beside her in all of her decisions. He supports this claim by stating that if she does not have any feelings for him (like he has for her), he will back off of his romantic pursuit indefinitely. In all honesty, I did not think I could love Thomas anymore that I already did, but once again, Thomas proves me wrong. When he says “You are not mine to take…You are yours to give” I literally cried. Thomas Cresswell, you are an absolute catch and are too good for this world. Why do you not exist in real life??
Before I go into all of my favorite scenes of the book (let’s be real here, all of the scenes are my favorite), allow me to conclude by saying that Hunting Prince Dracula was phenomenal. It was the perfect sequel to Stalking Jack The Ripper. While the characters and relationships of the novel were incredible, the central mystery also kept me pleasantly intrigued. Early on in the story, I had my suspicions on who the culprit was and my suspicions never once wavered. However, at the big reveal, I was quite wrong; I never would have guessed who was really behind the murders. It was a pleasant surprise and led me to second guess all interactions we had with this character. In all, Hunting Prince Dracula is a must read for all Stalking Jack The Ripper fans and even for those who have not picked up the series yet. You will not want to miss the mystery, suspense, and romance that this novel (and series) contains! Plus, everyone needs to experience Thomas Cresswell for themselves. My words cannot do him justice. And, once you are all caught up, we can discuss how agonizing the wait for Escaping From Houdini is.
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco was released on September 19, 2017. To follow Wadsworth and Cresswell on their shadowy adventures, check out the below links.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hunting-prince-dracula-kerri-maniscalco/1125424411?ean=9780316551663#/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Hunting-Prince-Dracula-Kerri-Maniscalco/9780316551663?ref=grid-view&qid=1521389557064&sr=1-1
While you are at it, follow Kerri Maniscalco’s website for all things Cresswell and Wadsworth.
My Rating: 5/5