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review 2018-03-17 22:17
Hunting Prince Dracula...
Hunting Prince Dracula - Kerri Maniscalco

I liked this second book even better then the first! Right from the start, in the train ride through the Romanian countryside, the author did a fantastic job of evoking an eerie atmosphere and sense of foreboding. This continues throughout the book, as  Audrey Rose and Thomas Creswell are residing in Bran Castle which is full of tunnels, traps, a creepy staff and someone determined to make sure everyone believes Prince Dracula is alive and hunting for his next victims. If you're a fan of this series then this book is a must read!


I do have one complaint though about the audio recording.  I listened to the audio version of both the first and second book and I had a very hard time hearing the narrator in the first book. I thought maybe it was just a fluke thing with my download but I had the same exact problem with this second book. I have to turn the volume all the way up on my phone and car to be able to hear it then it sounds sort of diluted like you're in a tunnel. I don't think the narrator is speaking loud enough or directly into the microphone. I hope they fix that in the next book. Anyone else have that problem? 

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review 2018-03-05 00:07
Victorian girl competes to get into forensic pathology academy in Dracula's castle. What could go wrong?
Hunting Prince Dracula - Kerri Maniscalco

This was an engaging historical romance read with mystery/thriller/horror elements depending on how jumpy you are when it comes to murder, vampire bats & huge spiders. (Man, that one scene took it to 110% horror mode for me!!)


It's not the book's fault, but I was super sad it didn't go into training montage/Harry Potter mode and double down on the competition to get into the bizarro forensic pathologist teens training academy in Dracula's creepy castle. Especially with the super-feminist Victorian girl trying to play on the same field as the boys, I wanted more of her competing for equal footing and to be recognized. Instead, the murder mystery element stepped up into centrefield. Which, it was cool the way they went in a different direction with the ending, I guess, and there were some truly unexpected twists, so props for that.


I think I prefer a little closer adherence to period-accurate perspectives in my historical fiction, to be honest. This leans more into an exciting, acceptable-to-2018-standards adventure territory. And the author had notes at the end pointing out which elements were research-based, and which were liberties taken for story purposes. But the feminist MC, although feminism did exist at the time, felt like she took things too far and in an inauthentic direction. To me, it felt preachy and performative, like if it were a film, she'd turn to the camera and make her argument, and then go back to playing her part. (Laurie R. King & Cat Winters do a spectacular job of integrating thoughtful feminist narratives in a period-specific narrative, if you want to read that btw.) But then again, it's not rare for teens to lack subtlety . . .


So in summary, so far this series isn't a personal favourite, but it is perfectly well done YA historical romance and makes for an entertaining read. Love the girl-forensic-pathologist angle, it's fun how historical characters who've become nearly fictional get woven in, and there's some very clever plotting going on. Props for accurate historical details and research at many points too. The love interest has an interestingly Holmesian character, and supporting cast are well defined and distinctive. 3.5 stars for a generally good read.

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review 2017-10-19 15:48
Vampire Square - Tomb of Dracula
Tomb of Dracula (1972-1979) #1 - Gerry Conway,Gene Colan,Neal Adams

This is the first issue of a Marvel series that brings Dracula to the 1970s.  It is very Hammer House of Horror, and somewhat predictable if you have read comics from the 50s or 70s  - those horror comics.  It's not bad and somewhat enjoyable.  I love the credits square at the start of the comic.


Its a standard romantic triangle vampire tale.

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review 2017-09-11 01:10
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula - Bram Stoker,Maurice Hindle,Christopher Frayling

"Oh, the terrible struggle that I have had against sleep so often of late, the pain of sleeplessness, or the pain of the fear of sleep, and with such unknown horrors as it has for me! How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads, to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams."


I finished this book a couple of days go. This was my first read of Dracula and by some luck, I basically went into the story blind. I've read a fair amount of vampire fiction - from the sci-fi to the campy to the terrifying, but none that really riffed on this story. I've seen enough vampire flicks, but strangely, no version of Stoker's. I'm not sure how that happened really, but I'm glad it did. Going into this without any preconceived notion of the story (only of the characters) made this experience all the more...breathtaking.


In light of that, I've really struggled with what to say in my review. It's all been said, truly, and honestly there were sections that I'm sure didn't sink in...some of the heavily accented parts especially...


“I must gang ageeanwards home now, miss. My grand-daughter doesn’t like to be kept waitin’ when the tea is ready, for it takes me time to crammle aboon the grees, for there be a many of ’em, and miss, I lack belly-timber sairly by the clock.




But I think what I will remember most is that Dracula, the monster, was really very...well, he scared the bejesus out of me.


The last I saw of Count Dracula was his kissing his hand to me, with a red light of triumph in his eyes, and with a smile that Judas in hell might be proud of.


There was a night of some uncomfortable sleep for me after finishing...I think it's because I had immersed myself in it that day in a push to complete the book and move on. What I found is that there is some real psychological horror going on that sort of eeks into your bones - it's a sense of despair that's hard to shake. Whether it be Jonathan's entrapment in the castle, or watching Lucy's life helplessly slip away, or the unhinging of Renfield, or when you know what's going on with Mina and everyone relegates it to a one-liner in their diary..."Mina looks pale today...", there's subtlety in the telling that ratchets up the tension. All this despite the fact that we know who the monster is and further, we have seen so many variations of him that this should be watered down in some way.


Not so for me.


My only complaint is that Van Helsing drags out the narrative longer than my modern sensibility really wanted...I get why, here he says:


“To believe in things that you cannot. Let me illustrate. I heard once of an American who so defined faith, ‘that faculty which enables us to believe things which we know to be untrue. For one, I follow that man. He meant that we shall have an open mind, and not let a little bit of truth check the rush of the big truth, like a small rock does a railway truck. We get the small truth first. Good! We keep him, and we value him, but all the same we must not let him think himself all the truth in the universe.”

He has to bring the gang around on what they are dealing with...to convince them to believe. No small feat. I suppose I should be grateful that we're not treated with Van Helsing's journal entries themselves and only read him through the voice of one of the gang, Jonathan, Dr. Seward or Mina. Sometimes the man can ramble for two or three pages of their journals, and I can only expect that they're recounting the highlight reel there. I can't imagine how glazed over I'd be if I were reading his own mind...oi vey.


Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing and marveled at the epistolary format and how it spun a little romance into the book. We read the gang's inner most secrets as they are experiencing them, the love (especially Seward's unrequited love of Lucy) and the horror and the devastation. Together they piece together Dracula by combining their journals and passing them between themselves - there's an inherent intimacy there that the reader shares. It's special.


I look forward to revisiting this down the road...perhaps by seeing one of those Stoker flicks, definitely by listening to it performed on audio, maybe by getting an annotated copy to help me parse out bits that I didn't get. Definitely going to do that. Just, not right now. I need some breathing room... like a fine wine. Dracula himself would appreciate that.


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review 2017-02-08 00:00
Dracula - Bram Stoker,Brooke Allen Good book, enjoyable, but I think the other vampire series have ruined it for me.
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