I know I’m kind of late in the game, seeing as Escaping from Houdini is coming out this year (September, guys!), but I’m obsessed. I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper and this sequel is no exception.
Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
Published by Jimmy Patterson on September 19th, 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Science, Death, Feministic, Thriller
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barns&Noble
Final Review: 5 out of 5 ★★★★★
It’s strange, though, how weird and difficult it is to write a review for a sequel. I loved the first one, and I loved the second one, and I’m probably totally going to love the third too! So to not just rant about nothing, this “review” will probably be short and I’m going to discuss what I think makes Maniscalco’s stories so successful.
I’m hoping that since you’re here, you’ve either read the first one, or you’re lost. Either way, I will need to discuss some potential spoilers of the first novel. Audrey Rose and Thomas have successfully cracked the Jack the Ripper case, though it wounded Audrey Rose more than she is willing to admit, seeing as her brother was the serial murderer. Audrey Rose’s life has already been difficult: her father’s health is failing, her mother has already passed, and she’s too much of a modern woman for her time since Audrey Rose would rather be elbows deep in a cadaver than a tea party. When the first novel comes to a close, Audrey Rose and Thomas are invited to attend a prestigious science academy in Romania and here we begin the sequel.
First, how is Maniscalco’s writing so dreamy when talking about such macabre topics? I don’t really have an answer for this, or even a direct quote I’m thinking of, but just overall Maniscalco is extremely triumphant in this accomplishment. These two stories, Hunting Prince Dracula in particular since it is fresher in my mind, are a perfect combination of horror, thriller, romance, cheekiness, and excitement. They feature gruesomely beautiful scenes (I’m picturing here the ending which is way too important for me to spoil) filled with blood and gore, and yet Audrey Rose still shines. I want to stress that these scenes are perfectly balanced–they are not too creepy that suddenly this book is an actual horror tale, nor are they too bland that the reader does not get a full picture in their mind’s eye.
If romance wasn’t a distraction we could ill afford, I’d live in the rush of this moment for all eternity. (346)
Moving right along to probably the best part of the book, and it overlaps with the writing, is Thomas and Audrey Rose’s relationship. *Insert swoon here*. I cannot handle them; they are too cute. The best part is that Maniscalco does not sacrifice their love for the story. Generally, when two people finally get together at the end of the first book, something always happens to them in the sequel: someone leaves unexpectedly, they break up horribly, someone else is involved, etc. So I was expecting the same to happen between Thomas and Audrey Rose, but *slight spoiler I guess?* it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there are some tumultuous times between the two, but this only shows their relationship as more real and the slow process it takes to open up and trust another person with your secrets and life.
His eyes fluttered shut, and the desire I’d seen in them was enough to undo me right there. I lifted my face, allowing the slightest, briefest contact between our lips. It was nothing more than a shadow of a kiss, but it ignited a fire throughout my body. (345)
I mean, seeerrrriiouuussllly, Maniscalco. It’s just not fair! We’re three-fourths of the way done with the book and here we finally have Thomas and Audrey Rose ALMOST, BARELY kissing. Don’t worry Audrey Rose, you two ignite a fire throughout my body too. Maniscalco has perfected here the patience one needs to sustain a true romance throughout a series. Unlike a novel where the main focus is romance and the two characters immediately date or begin other nefarious activities right in the second chapter, Maniscalco makes us wait, just as she is making Thomas wait for Audrey Rose. This series is definitely about their relationship, but it is not what it is solely about. In fact, even throughout their travels and secret meetings to almost kiss in the hallway, Maniscalco is still writing a feminist text. Audrey Rose should not be about to kiss Thomas secretly in the hallway, she shouldn’t even be at this academy, let alone in Romania. If it were up to society, she would be needle-pointing and hosting parties or, better yet, already married off. And while the setting is two hundred years earlier, the message still rings true as women in our 2018 still battle a patriarchal dominance. We are supposed to be doing things, according to society, and, like Audrey Rose, we are pushing against them constantly. And her relationship with Thomas is no exception; just because she has found (and I’d like to hope) the man of her dreams, does not mean she is giving up on her other ones, nor would Thomas let her:
“You are yours to give.” (422)
Overall? I loved this. Why wouldn’t I? Maniscalco is an excellent reminder and example of YA that actually gives something back to the reader, other than a wondrous experience. If you enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper, or even just kind of enjoyed it, definitely give this sequel a chance. I know that I am going to preorder Escaping from Houdini right now.