Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Gothic, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books (an imprint of Little, Brown and Company)
I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper. It was a book I will always hold dear, mainly because I was enchanted by the gloomy Victorian London ambience and disturbingly fascinated by the gruesome murders and their riddles. Yet Hunting Prince Dracula, with its mystifying touch, with lores whispered by supersticious villagers and seemingly crazy professors, medieval orders and forests covered in white snow yet somehow tainted by crimson blood and chilling howls, is the reason I bowed to Kerri Maniscalco's exquisite pen.
(I'm not a particularly talented photographer, but I'm pretty proud of this shot!)
“Has the Immortal Prince returned?”
After the tragic events of Stalking Jack the Ripper, Wadsworth and Cresswell head to Romania, to attend the Academy of Forensic Medicine and Science. But the prestigious Academy hides many secrets, from dark corridors and chambers to brutally murdered corpses that indicate one thing; the Impaler Lord has returned, seeking blood. Whose blood though and why, that's a different story. Trying to reason with evidence of the supernatural while fighting the nightmares that haunt her, Audrey Rose must find some answers and give justice to those who have already perished, before her time comes to join them in the eversleeping realms of Death.
“There's nothing quite like the aroma of a bloaded corpse to get one in the mood for adventure.”
My dear Mr. Thomas Cresswell cound not be more right. From the grey streets of Victorian London, Kerri Maniscalco transferred us to Romania, and painted with her colourful palette Dracula's castle and picturesque villages, blending red with white. White for the blinding snow. For the innocence lost. For the shroud that covered the victims of a villain utterly terrifying, that made your stomach churn with disgust and terror. Red for Wadsworth's lips, lips that craved to taste Cresswell's with a searing need. Red for the Prince of Blood, and his horrendous domain. For the autopsies performed by brilliant students who could not shut down their humanity. The atmosphere was eerie. Foreboding. Danger lingered in every corner. Everyone was a suspect, and everyone a potential victim. There were many times I wished for Ms. Harvey's traveling tonic to help me steel my nerves and keep reading. But in this deadly and macabre puzzle that gave you gooseflesh and toyed with Wadsworth's (and your very own) sanity, between the constant suspense and the legends of warrior societies and a brutal Prince worshipped by his countrymen, Kerri Maniscalco managed to ease the tension and make your lips curl up with mirth.
I suspect you already know the reason.
“I have a feeling you haven't invited me here for kissing. Though it never hurts to ask. You're dressed for sneaking about Dracula's castle. Be still my thawing, dark heart. You certainly know how to make a young man feel alive, Wadsworth.”
And along this witty and charming duo, you also felt alive. Belly rumbled with laughter, heart that pounded rapidly with the snarky dialogues that oozed sarcarm yet tenderness and affection at the same time, lungs that run out of air when tension was too much too handle, Cresswell and Wadsworth are a couple the likes of which you haven't encountered so far. Wadsworth struggled with her demons, and the wounds the events of the previous book were raw and fresh, depicted in a powerful and devastating way. I won't lie and say that I was on board with every decision Wadsworth made. I think that she could become so fixated on her independence that she misinterpreted the attempts to protect her as actions to cage her, and she could be really unfair towards Cresswell. But she came a long way overcoming her emotional trauma, and her development was evident. Her sharp mind and equally sharp tongue make her a remarkable heroine.
Now let's talk about Cresswell.
“You've stared fear in its nasty face and made it tremble. You will make it through this, Wasdworth. We will make it through this. That is a fact more tangible than any dream or nightmare. I promised I'd never lie to you. I intend to honor my word.”
As my dear friend Nastassja once said, Mr. Thomas Cresswell turns bloody and creepy into sexy so, so easily. While his social skills are still rusty, and his good intentions don't always work out as planned, his arrogant and (completely) inappropriate remarks, his flirtatious ways and the intensity of his feelings towards Wadsworth make him utterly delectable. Their scenes crackled with pent-up tension, and you couldn't help but pant a little even when there was no touching involved. Only heated stares. Innuendos. Sinful thoughts. And a love deep and powerful. From every challenge, they emerged stronger. Together and as individuals. I think I'm in love with them both.
All in all, a delicious and macabre tale, with the perfect blend of suspense, horror, Romanian folklore and sparking romance, Hunting Prince Dracula surpassed its predecessor and established Wadsworth and Cresswell as the new hot duet of crime solvers!
•ARC generously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review