Published: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #2
Pages: 434 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 2.5/5.0
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
Stalking Jack the Ripper was one of the coolest YA books I had the privilege to read in 2016, so naturally I was looking forward to its sequel, Hunting Prince Dracula. I mean, a brilliant girl defying 19th century societal standards by studying the dead and also trying to solve the Ripper murders? How could it not be awesome!? SJtR was most definitely an impressive book, but just based on the title of the sequel I was hesitant yet hopeful.
Obviously, Vlad Dracula was dead long before the late 1800’s so Hunting Prince Dracula wasn’t based on a true murder as the first first book was. This, in my opinion, took away from the allure the first book had. This was 100% fictional with a richly historied setting and a great deal of silly scares and restrained feelings. Audrey Rose and Thomas travelled to Bran Castle, Romania to study at the greatest forensics school in Europe, but they arrive to find that they must compete with seven other brilliant minds for a mere two spots in the upcoming class. Thus begins the competition… or not. Considering they’re supposed to be attending classes and studying rigorously, it feels as hardly any time at all is spent doing these things. Instead, Audrey Rose and Thomas are sneaking about in the middle of the night (when do they sleep?) with each other, with near strangers, and most unwisely of all, by themselves. Let me tell you, if people were turning up exsanguinated you better believe I wouldn’t be sneaking around at night by myself or with someone. Also, the competition was mostly mentioned in passing or very briefly and the classmates were shallow puddles of characters. They may as well have not existed.
While Hunting Prince Dracula was very entertaining, I found Audrey Rose and Thomas to have irritating character flaws, or shortcomings, or whatever. Thomas for the life of him cannot keep his mouth shut when he should and makes Audrey Rose look weak and womanly in front of a room full of smirking men several times (idiot). Audrey Rose is hallucinating and suffering from PTSD after the traumatic events of the first book. She spends 60% of the book about to have a nervous breakdown and she can hardly perform the forensic duties she used to excel at. Yeah, these are believable and possible events and emotions, but to focus SO MUCH of the book on these two things was about to drive me nuts. I’m reading this book because I loved this nearly Sherlockian duo do their murder solving forensic thing in Stalking Jack the Ripper and for goodness sake, that’s what I expect them to do!!! I like characters with emotional depth and multi-faceted personalities, internal crises but Audrey Rose and Thomas both fell kind of flat for me here.
Overall, this book was just not up to par with Stalking Jack the Ripper at all. I wanted to love it, but the best I can say is that it was entertaining, had a beautiful cover, and gave depth to Thomas’s history. I love the Romanian setting – Bran Castle is beautiful and full of history; plus, Eastern European folklore is pretty hot in the fantasy genre right now. I dearly wish this book had captured the fear it was trying to evoke and that the secondary characters had of been fleshed out significantly. There will be a third book in the series and my fingers are crossed that it will be just as good as the first book and I can politely ignore the sophomore slump.