BECOMING THE DARK PRINCE by Kerri Maniscalco is a fantastic 65 page story that tells the story of ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI from Cresswell’s POV with an optimistic ending many may have been hoping for in HOUDINI. It is story 3.5 of Maniscalco’s historical fiction series, STALKING JACK THE RIPPER.
Spoilers for the novella will start after the short summary during the extended review:
Summary of BECOMING THE DARK PRINCE:
Enigmatic, brooding, and darkly handsome, Thomas Cresswell has always been the one mystery Audrey Rose has never been able to fully solve. As brilliant partners in crime investigation, they understand each other perfectly…but as young lovers, their passionate natures have led to both euphoria and heartbreak throughout the Stalking Jack the Ripper series.
This novella features a collection of scenes that takes place during and after the pair’s horrifying Atlantic voyage in Escaping From Houdini. Experience new and familiar scenes from Thomas’s unique point of view, including an intensely personal look into his plea for Audrey Rose’s hand in marriage.
With a romance for the ages, Audrey Rose and Thomas reach the conclusion to their epic, irresistible partnership in their final adventure, Capturing the Devil.
Why I was interested: I’ve been loving the entire RIPPER series and wanted to read some of Cresswell’s POV, especially of a story where it feels like we missed a lot of him — but understandably so.
Side note: As noted in my spoiler review of RIPPER, I just received a finished copy of the last in Maniscalco’s series, CAPTURING THE DEVIL (Sept. 10, 2019). I am on my way to completing my #BingeingTheRipper series. I purchased the first three books and the novella, but I am very thankful to Jimmy Patterson Presents and Little, Brown and Company for sending me the last of the series.
Judge a book by it’s cover: It continues the design of the first three books — but we get to see the enigmatic Cresswell this time! (My heart is beating as wildly as a butterfly’s wings.)
What to expect: 65 pages of pure Cresswell and what he thought of during HOUDINI. And just maybe — maybe — a certain event fans have been waiting three books for.
Why you should pick this book up: If you love podcasts like Lore or Serial or TV shows like NCIS or Law and Order, you will enjoy these books. Check out the first in the series, STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, where we meet Wadsworth and Cresswell as they first team up together in 1888 London and hunt down the famous Ripper murderer.
Want more?: If you have read RIPPER, check out my spoiler review of it here. I’ve also compared and contrasted DRACULA and HOUDINI, which you can find here. Finally, the last of her series, CAPTURING THE DEVIL, will release on Sept. 10, and she does have a preorder campaign featuring a beautiful art piece by Gabriella Bujdosó.
ATTENTION: IF YOU HAVE YET TO READ BECOMING THE DARK PRINCE do not continue reading. The following contains spoilers for the books.
While DARK PRINCE may be significantly shorter than Maniscalco’s previous three books, it still satisfies. As we lacked so much of Cresswell’s charm — even if we see a foil character of dark charisma and wit through Mephisto — it’s so good to be able to reunite with Cresswell through his own novella.
We learn quickly more of his thoughts: he fears he will become the dark prince, the true descendant of Vlad the Impaler, as his father threatened and warned him about throughout his childhood. Cresswell balances this fear with trying to admit that forensic science is not a darkness he is descending into.
This fear of becoming a part of the darkness impacts his relationship with Wadsworth. Cresswell truly loves and cares about her as seen with the sexy scene where Wadsworth comes back drunk off absinthe from the circus party. Yet, as his love for her is so strong, he is concerned that it will turn him dark in ways that would make his ancestor, Vlad, proud. We see Cresswell protective, angry, and as we read in books, very male when it comes to his love for Wadsworth yet he is torn with wanting Wadsworth to choose him over Mephisto and by doing so not by force or trickery.
As we read HOUDINI, trickery is something we see used by Mephisto constantly to get Wadsworth to fall for him. From the dark deal to kissing her at her lowest point, we can understand that Mephisto is as charming and handsome as Cresswell. However, their one difference is in letting Wadsworth choose — or for Mephisto’s goal, lack of choice — between the two.
This wraps up wonderfully with Cresswell making sure that Wadsworth is in love with him and chooses him before he ultimately writes a letter to her father for courtship and betrothal. It’s such a nice, satisfying ending that HOUDINI did lack if slightly. I appreciate Maniscalco writing and releasing this novella from Cresswell’s POV and look forward to hopefully a marriage and a fantastic mystery in her fourth and final book, CAPTURING THE DEVIL.
What did you think of Kerri Maniscalco’s novella, BECOMING THE DARK PRINCE? Are you bingeing the Ripper series as well? I’d love to hear your comments below!
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