Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

Welcome to the Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC, a feature started by Elizabeth from Tea and A Tantrum, Nicole from Nicole’s Novel Reads) and myself. We have been loyal fans of Ms. Kerri Maniscalco since she first debuted her novel Stalking Jack the Ripper. It is actually the first ARC we featured when we started the Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC (you can read our reviews here).

We thought it only fitting to now give our thoughts and attention to Kerri Maniscalco’s latest novel Hunting Prince Dracula. Make sure to check out our reviews and come back next month for when the official blog tour for the book begins (I will be doing a feature on costume ideas for trick or treating as Audrey Rose and Thomas).

Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Publication date: September 19, 2017
Pages: 448
Source/format: Publisher/ARC

AMAZON

GOODREADS

 

 

 

Hunting Prince Dracula is everything I hoped for and more. Kerri Maniscalco once again conjures up an atmospheric and eerie tale full of blood and murder. Starting right up where Stalking Jack the Ripper left of, the two main characters Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell find themselves on the Orient Express on their way to study at the Academy of Forensic Medicine and Science in Romania. However, when a “vampiric-styled” murder occurs on their train, things are set in motion that will ultimately lead our duo to go on the hunt for Prince Dracula.

One of the many aspects of Kerri’s writing that I love is her attention to detail. She clearly puts a lot of research and time into creating her setting, plot, characters and timeline. I am in awe at how flawlessly she recreates travel on the Orient Express train, and the beauty of the Romanian countryside. As the reader, I felt completely immersed in the story.

Another one of my favorite things about Kerri’s books is her characters. We get a whole new array of interesting characters in Hunting Prince Dracula, and even “meet” Thomas’s sister. However, no other character will hold a place in my heart like Audrey Rose and Thomas do. I love their witty banter, and flirting. I am glad to see their relationship blossoming in Hunting Prince Dracula.

Unlike Stalking Jack the Ripper, I had a much harder time figuring out who the murderer turns out to be in Hunting Prince Dracula. The constant suspense in the story kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat. My favorite scenes are of Audrey Rose and Thomas stalking the bowels of the castle in search for clues. I found it very funny, and endearing that both Audrey Rose and Thomas share a fear of spiders.

When the reveal finally comes at the end, I was utterly surprised and thrilled. I absolutely love how Kerri sealed it all up nice and bloody. I am still in shock, but it is PERFECT and my dark little heart loved it.

Overall, Hunting Prince Dracula is delightfully full of atmosphere, beautiful scenery, lots of Audrey/Thomas moments and a thrilling ending. Hunting Prince Dracula is a definite MUST READ for all lovers of mystery and suspense.

Now to eagerly await the next installment, and daydream about where Audrey Rose and Thomas will go next, and who they might encounter.

** I received a copy of HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA from the publisher, in return for an honest review and to be featured on The Sisterhood of the Traveling Arc. **

Book Blog Tour: Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

stalking jack blog tour

Welcome to the Stalking Jack the Ripper Blog tour. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to be a part of this tour and  the Knights of White Chapel street team. When Ava mentioned she was starting a signup for this tour, I immediately jumped on board. I was lucky to receive one of the first ARC mailings of the book. I completely devoured it the minute it arrived on my doorstep and loved ever second of it. If you want to check out my review go here. I wanted to do something special for this post. I was inspired by some of the chats I had with Kerri about all the lovely dresses and accessories Audrey Rose would wear as a Victorian lady. I used some of my knowledge about period costumes and the fashions of The Victorian period to give you all a little insight on what it would be like to dress like Audrey Rose.

A Look Inside Audrey Rose’s Dressing Room…

The Unmentionables: ::carefully looks around and makes sure Thomas Cresswell is far, far away:: Let’s talk about Victorian Era undergarments. Before lacing up her corset, a Victorian lady would place upon her bare skin a chemise top (usually plain cotton and trimmed in various lace designs. Her bottoms/bloomers/knickers would be placed to cover her nether regions and were considered by the Victorians as the most unmentionable and immodest garments of them all!

Victorian Undergarments
Bloomers/Knickers and Chemise from the Victorian era.
The Unmentionables
Chemise, Bloomers/Knickers, and Corset. Corset Cover (bottom right).

 

The Corset: Next would be the lacing of the corset. This interesting contraption made in a variety of materials usually were lined with steel boning and laced tightly to give the lady her fine hourglass figure. A corset was mainly for the function of making sure the figure was put into the desired shape, but it did not stop the designers from making them in all colors and sometimes elaborately decorated. A corset cover was also usually worn over the corset. The Victorians valued tiny waists and it was known that ladies would often faint from lack of ability to breath. I don’t believe our Audrey would be so vain as to go that far, but she definitely wore one of these. (Personally, I think they are lovely and own several myself, and enjoy wearing them on occasion).

The Corset5d6682a531dabc48738957d466bb2c8b

 

The Stockings: Before putting on layers of more clothing a lady would definitely want to put on her sheer and delicate stockings which came in all shades and designs. (Definitely puts our modern stockings to shame with how beautiful some of these were…look at the detail. WOW!)

The Stockings

 

Shoes/Boots: Shoes and boots came in a mirage of colors, fabrics, and designs. Some you could slip on, but most were either laced or buttoned. I cringe when I look at these dainty images of gorgeous shoes and boots and think about Audrey Rose standing in coagulating blood at her uncle’s lab…ruining these beauties! Luckily she is a lady of means and could afford to buy more.

The ShoesThe Boots

 

I believe that now Miss. Audrey Rose would don a dressing gown while putting on makeup, combing the luscious locks, and arranging the hair to cascading curls of perfection.

 

Hairstyles 1888
1880’s Victorian Hairstyles
The Hair Combs
Beautiful hair combs used for adornment.

 

Under-Petticoats: Once the corset was tightly laced, stockings and shoes on and the every hair perfectly placed, the first of many petticoats would be put on.  These petticoats were made of similar materials to the chemise or with thinner muslin. The petticoats were often edged with lace and some also had dress shaping supports such as horsehair and wiring to sewn into them to help give the dress its finished silhouette.

The Petticoats

 

 

The Bustle: The bustle was usually made of wire that folded and collapsed into itself to allow the lady to sit. This structure was worn over the several layers of petticoats. It sometimes also had some padding and would be tied on tight around the waist.

Bustle The Bustle Dress Profile

 

Decorative Petticoats: These decorative petticoats usually had lots of layers and lace. A fashionable lady would wear no less than two. Sometimes these decorative petticoats would be the actual underskirt of the dress (obviously that would mean at least three-four layers of petticoats, to keep everything “decent”). These petticoats were also what helped the dress have its signature rustling sound; made while the lady walked called the “frou-frou”.

busle and undergarments

 

Once all of these items were on, it was finally time for the actual dress.

 

The Underskirt: This was the first part of the actual dress. Sometimes a highly decorative petticoat would be considered the underskirt, depending on the cut of the dress. This base skirt was usually highly decorated on the front  but plainer towards the back to accommodate the ruffles and folds of the overskirt’s design.

 

The Overskirt: The overskirt was sort of a half skirt that would cover the back and sides of the dress’s underskirt. This is usually the part of the dress that held the elaborate drapes and folds that would be held up by the bustle. Not that by the late 1880’s most dresses were starting to lose their trains, but some overskirts still had a bit of a train to them. The drapes and folds of the bustle were the stars of the back of the dress.

Formal Dresses

 

The Bodice: Once the overskirt is on, a lady would then put on the bodice of her dress. The bodice of dresses in the Victorian era were pretty conservative and covered all the way to the neck in most cases. Some designs did allow for the neckline to be done is a square, sweetheart and V-shaped. The sleeves were tapered and slim, worn long, or in 3/4 length. They could be very simple, or very elaborate depending on the dress. For as prudish as the Victorians seem, sometimes the ladies of the era wore sleeveless gowns but of course, they also wore satin and silk gloves that covered up almost the entire length of their arms, leaving only a little hint of skin exposed.

Blue Dresses

 

Daytime Dresses: Lighter, more “casual, less “frilly” dresses made to wear around the home. Or for when visitors came calling.

Day Dresses

 

Tea Gowns: These gowns started to grow in popularity around the 1870s. These gowns were unboned and worn without a corset, giving the ladies a respite in the afternoon hours before having to start to dress in formal wear for dinner.

Tea Dress

tea dress blue

 

Walking Dresses: These gowns were more conservative and “simpler” but still lovely. They were worn when paying visits or going for walks in the park or maybe even to visit uncle’s laboratory or Bedlam.

grey simple dress...

One-piece day dress, no date. Gray alpaca with trim of burgundy silk atlas and white cotton and lined in silk atlas. Closes up front with hooks & eyes.

 

Dinner Dresses: These were formal dresses made of silks and varied in color. They were usually more opulent and “showier” dresses.

Dinner Attire

 

Ball Gowns: These dresses were made from exquisite materials, the finest of lace and were elaborate and varied in design.


The Ball Gowns red Evening Gown

 

Before Audrey Rose can go out stalking Jack, she needs to make sure that she has all her accessories….

 

The Hat & Hat pins: A lady would never think to leave the house without a bonnet or hat….I mean what would the neighbors think?::gasp::

The Hats

hat pins 2
Hat pins..also good weapons…like sharp needles. 

 

The Hand Fan: Because a lady always needs to keep herself cool (especially when wearing so many layers) or in case she needs a little more air due to that tight corset.Fans were used while at balls and dinner parties to imply certain messages to people of interest. (This was not covered in the book…but there is a “secret” language of fans. For instance, fanning slowly meant a lady was married. Fanning quickly meant she was engaged. A fan in the right hand meant, “I love another”, or if the lady did not think the suitor anything more than a friend, she would drop her fan, which communicated “we will be friends.”…it’s really interesting, and complex. You can read more about it here.

lace fan

 

The Gloves: A lady would always wear gloves when exposed to the outside elements. These came in a variety of fabrics, but leather ones were usually favored for travel. For indoor use, a lady could choose to wear light lacy gloves. When attending balls and wearing the scandalous sleeveless dresses a lady would always wear gloves of silk and satin.

gloves 1 gloves silk green leather gloves

 

The Purse or Reticule: This was always carried with the lady. There she would keep her perfume vial, fan, handkerchief and also her calling cards when she went to visit friends.

The Purses

 

The Cape or Shawl: When the cold weather comes knocking a lady would most certainly wear a cape over all her finery. These capes would vary in length, style and fabric. Some would have high necks, while others would have an enlarged hood.

The Capes

The Parasol: This “umbrella” was usually made of fabric, and lace and often matched or complemented a lady’s ensemble. Victorian fashion favored a pale complexion and this was used by ladies to safeguard their exposed skin from the evil and devastating rays of the sun. I think Audrey Rose would somehow find a way to use her parasol as a weapon if she ever gets herself in a pickle. The handles of such parasols were also usually made of wood or even ivory and were beautifully carved.

blue and ivory dress


About The Book:

Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Publication date: September 20, 2016
Pages: 336
Find it:
Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

About The Author:

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time, she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. Stalking Jack the Ripper is her debut novel. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history and is the first in a new series of gothic thrillers.

For more information about Kerri Maniscalco, check out her social media platforms.

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website | Tumblr | Pinterest


Thank you to Ava from Bookishness and Tea for hosting this amazing tour, and to Kerri for writing such a great book for us all to read and fangirl about.

I really enjoyed working on this post for the Stalking Jack the Ripper blog tour (I spent so many hours on Pinterest looking at pretty dresses…no regrets…lol) and being a part of the Knights of Whitechapel street team. I hope you found all the dresses as pretty and as glorious as I did. Hopefully, you also learned a little something about the typical Victorian attirement ritual.

I am so excited for Stalking Jack the Ripper to finally be released in stores and for the finished copy to finally be in my hands. Are you planning on reading the book? What did you think about all the layers of clothing Victorian ladies had to wear? Have you or would you ever wear a corset? Let’s chat!

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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Welcome to The Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC

A new feature is hosted and created by Elizabeth at BookYabber, Nicole at Nicole’s Novel Reads and myself here at The Plot Bunny.

TravelingARC2

A few months while chatting about books we started to discuss how actually obtaining a physical ARC for review has become rather a hard thing to do. Unless you attend a book convention like BEA or ALA physical ARCs are not that easy to come by. We also know that not everyone who writes to a publisher gets approved for an ARC. There has been quite a bit of controversy in the blogger-verse about ARC hoarding for trade and for sale. Thus making it even harder for smaller bloggers like ourselves to get approved for physical ARCs because there are only a certain amount available. One of our goals with this feature is to point out what an ARC is really for…which is promotion. It’s not meant to be hoarded or sold. An ARC is meant to be read and reviewed in a timely manner on your blog. It’s a tool that the publishers use to promote new books and new authors.

We love reading ARCs so we started to brainstorm about how we could all get to read more ARCs as well as help promote upcoming authors and books. The solution was an easy one, we would just share whatever ARCs we got sent with one another. By sharing our ARCs we all get to read more books, and at the same time the author, book, and publisher will get book promotions and reviews from all three of us. It’s a Win-Win! This also allows us to have a mini book club of sorts and we get to sit down and discuss the book once we are all finished reading it…hopefully while having afternoon tea.

The first ARC we choose to read is Stalking Jack the Ripper by debut author Kerri Maniscalco. This was the first physical ARC I had ever request via email, and it was such a happy surprise to find it patiently waiting in my mailbox. While reading it I kept raving to Nicole and Elizabeth about how good it was and we decided it was going to be the first ARC we would share to start this feature. We really hope that the Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC will take flight and help us get to read more amazing books and share them with you.


stalking jack

Stalking Jack The Ripper

By: Kerri Maniscalco

Publishing Date: Sept. 20, 2016

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Genres: YA, Gothic, Horror, Thriller, Mystery

Rating: FIVE STARS!!!!

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

AMAZON  – BARNES & NOBLE  – GOODREADS


Now for my Review:

I’ve always been fascinated by the mysterious and gruesome history of “the Whitechapel Murderer” a serial killer also known as Jack the Ripper. The time period is one of my favorites, and when I discovered that Kerri Maniscalco had written a book that centers around the search for this notorious murderer I knew I had to read it. From the very first line:

“I placed my thumb and forefinger on the icy flesh, spreading it taut above the breastbone as Uncle had shown me.”

I knew that Ms.Maniscalco wasn’t going to sugar coat any of the blood-drenched and gory scenes yet to come, and I liked it….very much.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth is nothing like the average Victorian lady of her time. Yes, she does dress the part and loves her gowns and doing her hair, but at the same time she loves science and has an unquenchable curiosity for the world around her, especially when it comes to science and slicing open cadavers. Audrey Rose is not the kind of girl that you would find at home embroidering, unless of course, it was an embroidery of an anatomically correct human heart. Audrey Rose spends most of her time at her uncle’s laboratory helping him dissect human cadavers and trying to understand how everything works. It’s quite impossible to not fall in love with Audrey Rose, she is witty, charming, independent and unquestionably smart. She’s gutsy and won’t let anyone stand in her way or question her worth due to her female gender. I loved her strong will, determination and the fact that she was completely sure of herself. Be it pretending to be to blend with the most delicate of ladies while attending formal tea, wielding a scalpel at the lab, or stalking the streets of London’s East End to discover the identity of Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose can do it all.

Clearly Audrey Rose is my favorite character, but following close behind is the ever so debonair Thomas Creswell, who is a bit of a rogue with a hint of Sherlock-esque qualities. He’s handsome, smart and devilishly charming. He also knows exactly how to push all of Audrey Rose’s buttons and drive her nuts. I really enjoyed their banter and watching their hate-love relationship unfold. I could definitely see how he could be completely infuriating to Audrey Rose, not just because of his “know-it-all” attitude but because she is also struggling with accepting her feelings for him without losing the validation that she too can continue to be an independent woman and follow her studies (even if she chooses to fall for Thomas). I liked that they partnered up together in their search for clues as to whom Jack the Ripper really is. It was almost a bit like Sherlock and Watson to the rescue in a way. It’s pretty obvious that Thomas thinks Audrey Rose is attractive and he likes that she is so different from the average Victorian lady. Audrey Rose also says she wouldn’t mind kissing Thomas, but what I liked best is that there was no INSTA-LOVE and that their courtship took time. I can see where some reader would get frustrated with the progression of their relationship, but I thought the anticipation for them to together was fantastic.

I love how Ms. Maniscalco created the perfect eerie atmosphere and dark mood throughout this novel. You could almost feel the dampness of the fog, the chill lingering in the air, the chemical stench seeping from the glass jars in the laboratory. Maniscalco made every part of her story come to life and fully encompass the reader. Her research was also completely spot on and the use of medical/forensic terminology, as well as procedure clearly proves how devoted she was to writing a period accurate/realistic novel. Maniscalco also made sure to freshen up on her Victorian etiquette, dress code, social rules and restrictions in order to make her characters and world even more believable. Maniscalco writing style is vivid, lush, beautifully detailed and powerful. A special touch I really liked was that dispersed between the chapters also were pictures of diagrams, places, diseases, and settings related to the story/time period. The humor in the story is sharp-witted, deliciously dark and morbid. I felt myself laughing and giggling during some of the most inappropriate passages. Here are some of my favorite lines (please note that these quotes come from an ARC and might be different or completely gone in the finished copy):

The dead speak to those who listen. Be quieter than even them.”

“Not to mention, the subject matter was hardly appropriate for the dinner table. Discussing missing ovaries then asking him to pass the salt would be revolting for anyone, let alone a girl of my station”

Human flesh flayed much easier than I’d anticipated. It wasn’t much different than cutting into a pork loin prior to roasting; a thought that should have been more disturbing than it was.”

“Oh, yes. How silly of me to overlook that.” Thomas snorted. “I imagine the women who lost their organs thought themselves quite above being slaughtered as well. They were likely saying, ‘It’s Friday. I shall go to the pub, find a bit of food, pay my board, then get murdered by a madman before the night’s through. How lovely.'”

Wield your assets like a blade, Cousin. No man has invented a corset for our brains. Let them this they rule the world. It’s a queen who sits on that throne. Never forget that. There’s no reason you can’t wear a frock to work, and don the finest gown and dance the night away. But only if it pleases you.”

Those who deserve respect are given it freely, If one must demand such a thing, he’ll never truly command it. I am your daughter, not your horse, sir.”

The pacing of the book started out a bit slow, but I enjoyed that. It allowed me to soak in everything around me, it created an air of intrigue and overall creepiness around the whole story. It also allowed me to play detective along with Audrey Rose and Thomas. I had a pretty good idea of who Jack the Ripper was going to turn out to be by page 217, but it might have something to do with how much I love watching and reading crime/mystery/forensic shows/books. Even though I knew the killer, I still really enjoyed the intense and fast ride through the last few chapters and to the devastating and monstrous reveal. Stalking Jack the Ripper is definitely on my list of the top 5 books I have read this year. Ms. Kerri Maniscalco has perfectly crafted and delivered a stunning and engaging debut novel that fans of gothic/horror, mystery, and crime will completely devour and beg for more. I can’t wait until September to get my finished copy and read it all over again. Bravo!

Thank you, Jimmy Patterson/Hachette/Little Brown and Company for providing me with a copy of Stalking Jack the Ripper in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Kerri Maniscalco for writing this amazing and bloody story. I loved every page of it.


About The Author

kerriKerri Maniscalco  grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends,  and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats. Stalking Jack the Ripper is her debut novel. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history, and is the first in a new series of gothic thrillers.

It will be available everywhere September 20, 2016.

For more information, visit Kerri online:
www.kerrimaniscalco.com

Follow Kerri on Twitter and Instagram:
twitter.com/KerriManiscalco
instagram.com/kerrimaniscalco

 

We hope you enjoyed our review of Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, and we hope you will keep an eye out for future posts of The Sisterhood of the Traveling ARC. Make sure to check out Nicole’s and Elizabeth’s reviews too and let us know what you think in the comments below. Let’s Chat!

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