BOOK REVIEW: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco

BOOK REVIEW: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri ManiscalcoHunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)
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Synopsis:

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.

 


“The world is vicious.”

“The world is neither kind nor is it cruel. It simply exists. We have the ability to view it however we choose.”

Like with many books, you never know what you’re going to get with the second installment. I’m especially hard on second books, only because I normally am a ‘first book’ kind of girl. I always love that excitement of meeting new characters, falling in love with them, and the general peril and mayhem that ensues to set up an epic series.

BONE WHITE, BLOOD RED. ALONG THIS PATH YOU’LL SOON BE DEAD.

But such isn’t always the case, and I fall hard and fast….for no reason at all. Because almost always book two disappoints me (as does book three) because it’s almost never as enthralling as the first. I can’t say that’s the case here because the first book didn’t have me just jumping with joy or anything, but it had a lot of potential and led up to what could be an epic storyline.

Once again I’ll address the elephant in the room: Audrey Rose’s ability to get under my skin with the feminism (please see book one review, in no way am I dissing feminism). Now, again, it’s fine. But it’s still there and it still bothered me-but where book one had it sprinkled throughout, book two it started from the get go and only lessened after imminent peril ensued. I’m happy it did, but I don’t know how to feel about it. Why does she feel the need to overcompensate? Thomas knows she’s a capable woman and he wholly respects her-he’s just trying to help! I’ll stop here, but I do wish she didn’t lash out at him when he’s only trying to help-misguided as it was.

I thought Thomas knew that much about me. And once upon a time he had, but somehow he was no longer thinking with his head. Somewhere along the line, Mr. Thomas Cresswell—or rather, the unfeeling automaton he’d been accused of being—had grown a tender human heart.

Now! That was really all that bothered me, honestly. I won’t lie and say I fell head over heels right away like I had hoped I would-I mean…castles, right ??? But there was just something I wasn’t connecting to right away, and I feel as I though it’s my fault because I’m JUST. SO. TIRED. And I suppose I wanted more in the romance department right aawwaayy, fickle fickle me, because Thomas clearly loves her so. No worries, though, because the last 30% was a swirling crescendo of everlasting feels and heartfelt moments and declarations of love-and, finally, the action I so craved became prevalent and I about died of revulsion (this is an entirely different matter.)

He slowly lifted his gaze; for once he didn’t hide his emotions. Before he responded I saw the depth of his fear sketched across his face. All posturing and arrogance gone. In their place stood a young man who appeared as if the world might be breaking around him and there wasn’t a thing he could do to save himself. He’d fallen over a cliff so high all hope of survival had perished before he’d hit the ground.

I guess I’ll stay on the Thomas train so I don’t splatter him throughout the entire review (like I so love to do)-he was just something else. Every look, every moment, every thought bleeds love and devotion, and he would literally do anything for Audrey. He only wants her happy and wants her to achieve every dream she desires. He lifts her up and supports her when she needs it most, he’s her partner in crime at each and every turn, and he would sacrifice himself over and over to make sure she gets out alive. And he does so-on multiple occasions.

“Thank you for that reminder, Cresswell,” I said sweetly. “What would I do without you?”
He turned to me, expression as serious as I’d ever witnessed it. “You would miss me terribly and know it. Just as I would miss you in ways I cannot fathom, should we ever part.”

My heart…my heart just can’t handle his love. And at times…I guess I felt she didn’t deserve it. Here he is, laying himself bare more than once, vulnerable, wanting to be put out of his misery, and she just won’t give him even a nugget of…anything. She does, I mean obviously, but it definitely made me defensive and protective of him. And this all comes full circle, really, because it goes hand and hand with the feminism-she finally gets her head out of her ass and realizes he’s not trying to take her voice away nor strap her down, he only wishes to lift her up…and be beside her in all aspects of life while he does so.

I don’t want to come off like I had a ton of problems with the story because I truly didn’t, I just don’t believe in stomping on others just because you’re insecure about your stature in society. And she really does shape up, I believe, in the manner that she knows who the real enemies are and who she needs to fling her haughtiness at, and Thomas is NOT one of them. See? I still think she needs to be strong, just don’t be a total jerk towards those that love and adore you.

Hearts were beautifully fierce yet fragile things. And I did not wish to break Thomas’s.

But okay, can we seriously talk about the dreadfully terrifying tunnels in this castle? Rainbows and unicorns there are not. Picture a much more…sinister…foe-my number one phobia IN THE WORRLDDDD, to be exact. If you thought for one second that book one was creepy and you didn’t enjoy it, STEER CLEAR of book two. I shit you not. It will give you chills down to your bones. I, for one, have the most vivid, terrifying [recurring] nightmare-I’ve mentioned it in numerous reviews before, but it literally hasn’t changed a bit. In a haze yadda yadda, see a plaid shirted man standing next to the bed yadda yadda, he reaches for me yadda yadda. I kick at the apparition (Because that’s what it is, surely?) and all of a sudden it’s gone. But, as my husband repeatedly tells [lectures/gets angry] me…I’ve apparently been belting out a blood curling scream and kicking and punching him in my sleep. Yeah. I don’t even remember this shit happening, I just know the before, the after, and the sore throat and pounding heart I inevitably have-oh yeah, and a severely ticked off husband. Oops.

Rightfully so, mind you.

“Impressive, Wadsworth,” Thomas said, turning his gaze to me. “If we weren’t about to face another terrible passageway filled with life-threatening danger, I’d take you in my arms this instant.”

What was I saying again? Oh yes, nightmares. Nightmare inducing is what this book is, if only because of the hair-raising and spine-chilling settings and subtle scares. I only get my nightmare when something (generally in my subconscious, I never know it will be triggered (OBVIOUSLY)) triggers it, but I know that after (or during, I forget) reading this story? Let’s just say I had a woken up baby and-again-a severely upset husband. I think I even upset the dog. So yeah-a word to the wise: Proceed With Caution. Ye be warned.

“Honestly?” I whispered harshly. “Must you paw at me now?”
“While I’ve thought a great deal about groping you in this delightfully macabre setting, Wadsworth, I doubt my mind has the ability to will it into fruition.”
“Do you swear?”
“On the potentially empty grave of Great-Great-Great-Uncle (view spoiler), yes.”
“Then who is, Cresswell?”

I hope everyone will give this series a try. It’s an underdog, I mean to me, and I think it deserves all the praise it’s getting. I don’t think the second is as ‘read’ as the first, and this disheartens me-because if you liked Thomas even a little in the first, you’ll love and DEVOUR him in the second. Just sayin’.

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1 Comment

  1. Great Review! I enjoyed reading this book and I’m so glad you loved it! I can’t wait to read Thomas and Audrey’s next adventure in America. 🙂
    Raven recently posted…Fragments of the Lost By Megan Miranda [Review]My Profile

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