Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2), by Kerri Maniscalco
Publish Date: September 19, 2017
Published by: Jimmy Patterson Books
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Mystery
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)
**I received this as an ARC from BookCon2017 in return for an honest review.**
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.
After reading Stalking Jack the Ripper I immediately dived into this one, eager to read more about Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell. Not only did I enjoy the first one, but this was going to be focusing on the legend of Count Dracula, so I was even more intrigued to find out what would happen in it.
The story, much like the first, moved at a pace that was decent and was full of intrigue. It did drag a couple of time during this book, unfortunately, but still kept me engaged for the most part. I was a little annoyed at Audrey Rose more often in this book, because I realized she tended to spend too much time trying to take conceived conclusions and connect them to only a handful of clues, rather than trying to actually piece the evidence together and look for more to come up with one. In fact, it took a long time vital information about one death in particular to actually bring about the revelation of his cause of death, and this irked me a little, especially since this is taking place at an academy for forensic science. I did somehow manage to figure out who the murderer was from early on, but had my mind changed because of other events, only for my original suspicion to end up being right. So while it was predictable, I was still thrown off the track a bit, which was nice since it kept me from getting bored. I will say though that the murderer revelation was a little bit too much like the one in the first book – with the emphasis on showing how the most normal-seeming person can actually be a crazy mass-murderer. It felt…repetitive.
Audrey Rose remained a great protagonist, this time dealing with the aftermath of SJTR, and struggling with not only grief but horrific images and hallucinations as a result of what she encountered at the end of the Ripper case. It was great to see her work through overcoming these, although I would have liked to see more of her dealing with her grief instead of constantly pushing it away. There were some more great characters introduced as well, and it was wonderful seeing Audrey Rose’s relationships with these people grow over the course of the book. The one she had with Thomas, however, had its ups and downs, which was nice since it kept it fresh and away from being stagnant the whole time. The romance was still strong between them despite some issues, and kept their relationship strong. My only issue was that Thomas felt a little off in this book, since he had trouble “deducing” things because he felt muddled by the whole situation and the murderer’s intended victims. It’s hard to explain without spoilers (and let’s just say by the time it was revealed I was not at all surprised or shocked), but it felt like an excuse to just make the mystery last a little longer.
Overall, I would say it stayed at a same level as the first one, though, in terms of writing style and characterization. I definitely love Audrey Rose and Thomas, and the mystery of the murders kept me guessing throughout. A great follow-up to the first book, and now I am certainly looking forward to the next one.