“A body had been found staked through the heart near Braşov – the very village we were traveling to – leading the superstitious to believe in the impossible: Vlad Dracula, the centuries-dead prince of Romania, was alive. And hunting.”
Kerri Maniscalco | Hunting Prince Dracula | p. 4
This is the 2nd book of the “Stalking Jack the Ripper” series, which will consist of four books. Beware of possible spoilers if you haven’t read the first book, Stalking Jack the Ripper!
This fall I had been longing for some gory, dark and still enjoyable stories. And when I came upon ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’, I found everything that I wanted in a book for this mood: a little bit of romance, a setting like in a Victorian Gothic Novel, a fierce heroine with a strong liking for forensics and a murderer that needs to be stopped. So after finishing the last pages of that book I didn’t wait long before picking up the second book in the series centering on young Audrey Rose Wadsworth: ‘Hunting Prince Dracula’.
Shortly after that traumatizing event in London which concluded the first book, Audrey Rose is off to Romania via the Orient Express. Accompanied by handsome and up-to-no-good Thomas Cresswell, she is headed towards the academy of forensic medicine and science in Transylvania, hoping to learn more about forensics.
But then, a man is murdered on their train ride – staked through the heart, like a vampire. Moreover, Bran Castle, a castle turned into an academy, seems to be hiding secrets of its own. Until more deaths occur, and they all seem to send one message: Vlad Dracula, the bloodthirsty prince of Romania is back from the dead. Still riddled with grief, Audrey Rose has to keep up with her studies while fighting for acceptance as the only female student at the academy AND trying to solve the mystery of these gruesome murders in the middle of Romania.
“Fingers of moonlight reached over the spires and slid down the roof, casting the shadows of the sleigh and horses in sinister shapes. This castle was eerie, and I hadn’t even stepped inside.” – p. 45
I really, really liked ‘Hunting Prince Dracula’! Although it is the second instalment, it felt like a whole new story in itself. Maybe because the setting was different, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it a lot. The wintery feel of it as well as the ever present gloomy scenery of an old Castle surrounded by snowy forests in which strange creatures might lurk about (?) perfectly fit my fall-transitioning-into-winter-mood. Since this time Audrey Rose finds herself in another country, namely Romania, the author included this country’s language and culture into her story, which I loved! The pronunciation guide at the end of the book was very helpful with pronouncing the names of the castle’s staff, teachers and pupils as well as the names of towns and their inhabitants.
I adore Kerri Maniscalcos writing style. You find yourself situated in a world full of secrets and mysteries, full of silken ball gowns, scalpels, corpses and secret passageways. I enjoyed so many aspects of this story (which I’m not going to spoil for you by writing it out), I even liked the playful banter between Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell, which I’m normally not the biggest fan of. Again, this book discusses various topics concerning social classes, society in itself and gender inequality which were adjusted accordingly to the plot. As with ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’, I love the gothic novel vibes in ‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ and was at times strongly reminded of Bram Stokers Dracula, and I was all in for the romance, the gore and all the scary details of the story.
“Society at large is staggeringly obtuse. If one simply looks to others for their opinion, they lose the ability to think critically for themselves. Progress would never be made if everyone appeared and thought and loved in the same manner.” – p. 119
Let’s also talk about the gorgeous cover and the layout of this book. As in the first book, several chapters were accompanied by old photographs and paintings, and this time, there were beautiful illustrations of letters written by Audrey Rose and other protagonists. It really helped create an atmosphere of traveling back in time and space.
The only thing (!) that annoyed me a bit was the short description on the back of the book, which in my opinion, is too plot revealing. Not as bad as it had been with the first one, though, where you could already guess the murderer’s identity, but I sincerely hope the other two books in this series won’t spill their little secrets just by making their description too sensational in order for everyone to buy it.
I for one can’t wait to get my hands on ‘Escaping from Houdini’, the third instalment in this series and recommend all of these books to you! They are perfect for gloomy weather, cold rainy days lacking sunshine and a hot cup of cocoa.
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Title: Hunting Prince Dracula
Press: Jimmy Patterson Books
Year of publication: 2017
[Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery]