Blood so dark it was nearly black coated every inch of its face and body – Kerri Maniscalco.
The day I read the last pages of Stalking Jack the Ripper, I picked up Hunting Prince Dracula, not wanting the adventures of Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell to end. This time, they were bounding towards Romania by train. Without escaping the steam engine, a body is impaled just mere feet from where Audrey and Thomas sit – flirting as ever. Audrey Rose’s body automates itself into forensic mode whilst her mind races with images of the Ripper’s victims and someone so very dear to her heart. This is another rampage of bloody murders with Gothic tales and superstitions twisted into the very pulsating heart.
I have always loved the notion of old school vampires of the sadistic kind; there is something dramatic and alluring about the powers of those kinds of European monsters that hail the oldest history books. Dracula, being the most fearsome of them all, is no different. Again, another reason why I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this tale.
People are being murdered within the castle walls and beyond, in the woods. With Audrey Rose and Thomas casting suspicions everywhere, they cannot trust anybody but each other. This proves difficult as we enter another phase of their friendship whereby Thomas feels more protective of Audrey Rose than ever, but puts his foot in it as he usually does.
Audrey Rose is as independent, if not even more so, as in the first book. She questions whether she truly wants to spend the rest of her life with Thomas Cresswell, or anyone for that matter. She does not want a life where she is ruled by her husband, doing things as he sees fit, even if it is as a way of protecting her from the horrors of the world. It is a fact – and why I love her so much as a protagonist – that she throws herself into the face of those horrors, pushing herself beyond her limits and proving that she is a woman who can certainly look after herself. Yet again, we are told a story by a nineteenth century girl who reflects many young women of the twenty-first century. Her choice of clothing is just one of the ways she illustrates it.
I found myself laughing out loud during many of the scenes between Audrey Rose and Thomas. Their relationship boils down to their intelligence and banter which create some spectacular scenes between the two. Despite a scene written to show the depths of her despair, I couldn’t help but laugh because of their conversation and the sheer stupidity of Thomas Cresswell. Her short temper and his direct flirtations are only two of the reasons this young love works so well. Ultimately, they care for each other so deeply that when it comes down to fighting for their last breaths, they take comfort in the fact that they are together, forever fighting against the evil the world brings during the late nineteenth century, whether that is the horrors of nightmares, or the scandals of society itself.
As for the crime of Dracula itself, this is a twist you will not see coming. I knew who the Ripper was, but I certainly could never guess who was responsible for draining these victims of their blood. The mystery will keep you suspecting everyone who comes into contact with Bran Castle – a truly wonderful setting for the perfect set of murders with its hidden passageways, large halls and underground tunnels. You will think the worst of everyone, even a certain Miss Cresswell who is just as handsome – and witty – as her brother. The blood as dark as black and bones as dead as night are only two of the gruesome things that you will encounter before the shocking twist.
Yet again, Kerri Maniscalco magically brings legend, history and fantasy together in this thrilling story. September seems too far away to read the next adventures of Audrey Rose!
Have you read Hunting Prince Dracula? What did you think?
Love Faye xo