Having put Stalking Jack the Ripper on my Best of the Shelf list last year, I was as eager as anyone to get my hands on the sequel. The characters I enjoyed from the first book going after another ancient, blood thirsty monster of history...sign me up! Did the book deliver as well as the first one? Well, let's see for ourselves.
Audrey Rose Wadsworth, fresh of the Ripper case, is on her way to Transylvania with the mysterious Thomas Cresswell. Together, they intend to enter into an academy of forensic sciences to master their skills as investigators. While the prospect of autopsies and forensic science has always been a great delight for Audrey Rose, she enters the program with some trepidation due to a venomous Headmaster, sexist classmates, being pitted against Thomas for a spot in the academy...and several horrific murders taking place in the school. People from the nearby village and even some visitors at the school are being impaled with wooden stakes, attacked by bats, and drained of blood. The village fears the return of Vlad the Impaler, horrific tyrant of old, said to have risen from the dead to devour blood. Audrey Rose and Thomas must get to the bottom of this case, lest their own lives be lost next to this mysterious, bloodthirsty fiend.
As I was a big fan of the first book, I did have some pretty high expectations for this one. In essence, this was everything I was expecting it to be. A whodunnit murder mystery, much like the first, with ties to history and real-life places. Once again, creative liberties were taken with much of the historical facts in order to tell a good story, but I didn't mind them so much this time around. Probably because there weren't as many and, aside from the fact that Bran Castle has never really been a forensic academy, nothing too major was changed. Plus, much like the first, there was a lot of great depictions of gothic architecture and atmosphere that I really appreciated.
Now, most people who have read these books will go on and on about how Thomas is their favorite character and how much they loved him and how charming he is and yada yada yada. Okay, I don't dislike Thomas as a character but...I'm sorry, but his flirting starting to get real annoying. She's obviously trying to go for a will-they-won't-they thing with Audrey Rose and Thomas but his flirting just got super old super fast in this book. Not only was every other thing he said hinting about how badly he wants to get with Audrey Rose but, at times, it just seemed inappropriate. Now, I don't mean inappropriate as in what he said was patriarchy or rude or anything, but that he says stuff after finding a person's dead body or when they are in eminent danger! Time and place, buddy. Time and place.
Another problem I had with this book was that the pacing was much slower than the previous book. I had a hard time finishing it, not because it was poorly written or the characters were unlikable or anything, but because it was drag on and on in certain places. It got the point where I think I zoned out and missed some important details. My only major nitpick about Stalking was that I figured out who was behind everything fairly quickly. This time, I was genuinely surprised....then really confused. Even after the usual "get the villain monologuing to save ourselves" scene we can sometimes get with these stories, I still didn't really get what was going on. We're supposed to be impressed by the intelligence of this character but the way they go about their plan...seriously didn't make a lick of sense. I think it just needed to be thought out a bit better because that was seriously the most flawed part of the book.
Not as good as the first, but still enjoyable enough. The writing is still good, I still like Audrey Rose, and the mystery was a good one but the conclusion was confusing and didn't make a whole lot of sense, Thomas got annoying, and so I'm going to say to maybe wait for it on paperback.
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