Becoming the Dark Prince gives Stalking Jack the Ripper fans exactly what they needed post Escaping from Houdini, leading the way towards Capturing the Devil, which releases September 10th. (spoilers within!)
One of this fall’s most anticipated reads is Capturing the Devil, the final book in the spellbinding Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco. While Capturing the Devil doesn’t come out until September 10th, we SJTR fans got a pre-release present in the novella Becoming the Dark Prince.
Thomas Cresswell gets the limelight in his second novella of the series. The first being Meeting Thomas Cresswell, which was included the mass market paperback version of Stalking Jack the Ripper.
In the eBook and paperback versions of Hunting Prince Dracula Kerri included a bunch of letters that Thomas had written to his sister, Daciana, which shows Thomas’ vulnerability as he finds himself falling head over heels for Audrey Rose.
The entirety of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series is from the point of view by the heroine, Audrey Rose Wadsworth, so getting not only one novella, but two, from Thomas’ point of view is one of the best things leading up to the release of Capturing the Devil.
Unlike Meeting Thomas Cresswell, Becoming the Dark Prince is in eBook format only, so there is no need to buy another copy of one of the pre-released books in order to enjoy basking in the mind that is Thomas James Dorin cel Rau Cresswell.
Be warned, while I don’t go into specific details, this article has spoilers for not only Becoming the Dark Prince, but the entire Stalking Jack the Ripper series thus far, as well as some theories about the upcoming finale em>Capturing the Devil.
Meeting Thomas Cresswell is our first look into the mind of Thomas himself, who describes himself similarly to Sherlock Holmes. He is very good at deducing clues and connecting invisible dots as he and Audrey Rose attempt to catch Jack the Ripper. He also states that he isn’t used to having strong emotions, which he goes into in his letters to his sister.
I adored the letters because Thomas’ trust in his sister and pleas for help in wooing Audrey Rose are so real, so awkward, and so endearing. Between everything that happens in the first three books neither Thomas nor Audrey Rose really have had a chance to breathe, let alone take a second and stop to think about their true feelings towards each other.
In Escaping from Houdini Thomas and Audrey Rose’s relationship is strained as she goes undercover in order to get closer to Mephistopheles. Since Escaping from Houdini is from Audrey Rose’s point of view, we only get glimpses of Thomas during the book, which he is absent for more so than he had been in the series thus far as Audrey Rose went off on her own.
Becoming the Dark Prince, which takes place both during and after the events of Escaping from Houdini was a relief to read in more ways than one. Reading Thomas’ point of view during this strained time of their relationship and being able to see his jealousy of Mephistopheles endeared me to him even further, not because he was jealous, but because he refused to show that jealousy to Audrey Rose.
Thomas is, and I hope always will be, someone who gives Audrey Rose the space she needs to be autonomous in a time period where that was unheard of. Just because Thomas was jealous didn’t mean that he had the right to tell Audrey Rose to stop seeing Mephistopheles. They weren’t officially courting, weren’t engaged, and even if they were, Thomas knows that his own jealousy is on him, not on Audrey Rose.
Thomas’ fight within himself at trying not to project his emotions onto Audrey Rose was exactly what I needed to read post Escaping from Houdini. Recently I talked about internalized misogyny and how it’s something that I believe a lot of us have to work hard at to get past. We are taught from a young age that autonomy in a woman is being selfish, so most of the time in fiction when a heroine does something wrong there is backlash, as opposed to the leniency given to male characters in general.
Reading from Thomas’ point of view gave a different perspective of what Audrey Rose was going through, and Thomas’ acceptance was a balm over the wound that was left after Escaping from Houdini. While it was hard to read their relationship issues, it was important for Audrey Rose to have experiences outside of the small bubble that she’d been in for months with Thomas.
The whole point of Becoming the Dark Prince is that Thomas believes that he will eventually become like his ancestor, Vlad Dracul, and that he is essentially a monster. This is why he fights to keep his jealousy in check, because he doesn’t want to become what he’s most afraid of. Now, being self aware is half the battle, so Thomas actively countering his own fears within himself shows the reader his true feelings, which we don’t get through Audrey Rose’s point of view.
The talk that Audrey Rose and Thomas have in Becoming the Dark Prince is one of my favorite scenes of Stalking Jack the Ripper thus far. A moment of true vulnerability turns begets so many amazing quotes between the two of them. Communication is key, and both Thomas and Audrey Rose discuss in depth what happened in Escaping from Houdini and how both of them felt about everything between Audrey Rose and Mephistopheles.
From Audrey Rose saying that she isn’t a prize to be won, to Thomas telling her that he doesn’t crave a love that is cruel or possessive, this scene is both epic and inspirational on a communicative level, if not true #relationshipgoals.
Not only does Thomas confront his own feelings with Audrey Rose, but he has the chance to confront Mephistopheles himself as well. A scene where the two of them actually talk without posturing wasn’t something I thought I’d ever get a chance to read within this series. There was a sense of closure that we didn’t get with Mephistopheles’ departure in Escaping from Houdini and now that the air has been cleared between them, I wouldn’t mind seeing Mephistopheles show up in Capturing the Devil, perhaps at the Chicago World Fair?
Speaking of the World Fair, which is referenced to on the cover of Capturing the Devil, let’s talk about what we can expect in the final book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series that we’ve all come to love and enjoy.
What we know about the 1893 World Fair is that it took place in Chicago, and that there were a slew of serial killings during said World Fair. The killer, whose nicknames were the Beast of Chicago and the White City Devil, was H.H. Holmes, who killed over 100 people by luring them into his home. This home’s nickname? Castle of Horrors. This alone is the perfect setting for Audrey Rose and Thomas to do what they do best: solve murders while also almost getting killed themselves.
I, for one, can’t wait to read about Audrey Rose going up against H.H. Holmes on September 10th.
“I wouldn’t care to repeat it, but in the end, I couldn’t deny being grateful for the test.” – ‘Becoming the Dark Prince’ by Kerri Maniscalco
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