*We received this book in exchange for an honest review*
Istanbul, Turkey. The year is 1937. Theodora Fox’s tutor has just quit, running off with her money and any hope of leaving this godforsaken city. To top it off, she’s alone and hasn’t heard a peep from her father in days, even though he promised to be back by now.
When she arrives back at the hotel after an unfortunate mix-up involving the Turkish authorities, a surprise is waiting in her room. A surprise named Huck Gallagher, aka Huck. The boy who left without a word last year. The boy who broke her heart. The boy she’d never thought she’d see again after a terrible event she now calls “Black Sunday.”
Turns out, her father had not only been in contact with Huck since that fateful Sunday, but also lured him into joining his idiotic adventure in Turkey— without a word to Theo on the subject. When Huck returns to Istanbul without her father in tow, Theo realizes something is wrong— really wrong— and that her father is in trouble. Honoring his word to her father, Huck promises to take Theo to the planned meeting place in Romania— but nothing goes to plan. Armed with her father’s journal, Theo must decipher his notes and piece together the details of his secret adventure.
She quickly learns that last summer, her father was a hired by a Hungarian man to track down the ring of Vlad the Impaler. Her father believed that three rings were made, one real and two fake, and that one might hold supernatural powers.
On the way to Romania, men have been tracking Theodora and Huck, forcing them to abandon the train and fight for survival in both the Bulgarian and Romanian wilderness. When they finally make it to Bucharest, Theodora’s father has not been seen or heard from. Huck wants to get Theodora to safety, but she is determined to find her father and solve the mystery of the ring using his journal.
Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and the truth about the rings may be darker and more surprising than Theodora thought possible. In a freighting game of cat and mouse across Eastern Europe, Theo learns about the past of the infamous Dracula.
Regular readers know that we read Jenn Bennett’s YA Contemporaries, so we were ecstatic to see her write Historical Fiction. This book is non-stop excitement with a plot that moves at a rapid pace. You’ll quickly be cheering Theodora on as she discovers history’s hidden secrets before anyone else. Bennett did an excellent job of weaving in historical context throughout the book, and we were captivated by her engaging writing style.
The romance also added a nice touch to the book. Theodora and Huck have unresolved feelings from the last year, which play an important role in the story. The two have to learn to trust each other again as men from a secret society are trying to kill them. In between the violence and mystery, they realize how horrible it was to be without each other. Also, we must say that they had hilarious banter and their chemistry was palpable. Their romance gave us major Alex, Approximately vibes in this respect.
The side characters and plot development were also fabulous. We came to sympathize with Theo and really understood her complicated relationship with her father, who is not always present in her life. The side characters include a witch, occultists, and creepy twins who run a traveling antiquities store.
Do yourself a favor and pick up this mystery just in time before Halloween. Fans of Kerri Maniscalco will love the mix of history and suspense.