Hunting Prince Dracula the second in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. I feel in a lot of ways it is vastly improved from the first novel in terms of scope and descriptions. In the first novel the author was kind of handcuffed by using Jack the Ripper’s real crimes and building a novel around it, but this is a totally new tale where we get the author’s own vision. The body count is up, the dissections are more detailed, and there’s bucket loads of blood. The horror is ratcheted up, it takes a little while to get to the real horror but I have a phobia to one element that was described really well making my skin all creepy crawly.
The Plot: This novel takes days after the last one with Audrey Rose still dealing with torment that she and her family went through in the last book, and doesn’t know if she can pursue forensic medicine and operate on the dead. Thomas, her still will they won’t they “friend”, accompanies Audrey Rose to they’re new school forensic medicine at Castle Bran in Romania, the once home of Vlad the Impaler of Dracula lineage. While on the Orient Express heading to Romania a young man is murdered by a wooden stake, just outside their cabin. They see a pale sickly boy leave the scene as the police arrive. When they get to the cabin they’re not at all welcomed the headmaster thought Audrey’s application was a possible joke, and they find out there spot is not guaranteed and out of the 9 classmates only 2 will be taken. When they meet their fellow students two stick out Prince Nicolae part of the royal family and an heir through marriage to Vlad the Impaler, and she meets the sick pale boy from the train. They plan to question him, but before they can he is found impaled and with two marks on this body and all his blood drained in the nearest town. Another woman in town goes missing, as more bodies start turning up. Is this the work of a Vampire? Audrey and Thomas are determined to find out, but will it be too late?
What I liked: The setting of Bran Castle in Romania is a great location that is filled with it’s own set mysteries. The castle is both creepy and you feel the confinement by the elements and other things keeping them from exiting. Really great female characters in this story besides Audrey, the first book really missed that. The secrets revealed about the castle and people are really intriguing. The ending kept me on the edge of my seat the last fifty pages are so good, if the rest of the novel were like it, I would give it five stars without question. There’s a false scare that is written really well, you can almost see the author’s smiling crimson lips as she gets the reader. Feminism is still prevalent throughout and because there are other female characters not just Audrey bucks the system. The Thomas Audrey relationship is challenged more in this one, but the banter is still there and flows really well. Thomas does have the dumbest guy prank, that I slapped my head with what was he thinking, but it was not out of character, I can see a lot of my friends do that to someone they’re interested in thinking it was a good idea. I made a complaint in the last one that I figured it out to easily because the possible suspects were so low, but in this one almost every character is a suspect so it made figuring it out who did it really difficult. This book does have an Indiana Jones moment and it is great. I forgot to put this in my first review but the covers are absolutely beautiful, and really drew me in.
What I disliked: There’s a lot of family history, and it was always made clear to me who was related to who and how they were related to the Vlad the Impaler lineage. It made my head spin and could have been explained better. The other students needed more personality, the Italians, Prince Nicolae and the American where the only memorable students the rest seem to blend in. The writing is still current and not at all old timey, the occasional use of Romanian langue worked though. The middle slows down a lot and I had to plod through in parts.
I recommend this book for reader of the first book Stalking Jack the Ripper, I liked this more than the last one, in terms of stake secrets, and finale. The author does her research and if you want some facts on Vlad the Impaler, just like in Ripper, I learned something. Where I struggled in the last one between a three and a four star, this was an easy 4 out of 5 stars. I will definitely be checking out Escaping from Houdini when it comes out next week.