Review: Will Hill’s Department 19

Department 19 (Department 19, #1)Department 19 by Will Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Department 19, a covert government agency, was set up by Van Helsing and the small group of men who survived the destruction of Dracula. A fresh spate of killings across Western Europe alerted them to the fact that Dracula had made three other vampires, the three Rasumanov brothers, who were turning people like a vampiric plague. Fast forward a century and Department 19 are still trying to do their best to reduce the number of vampires out there, whilst keeping their existence a secret from the general public. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to Jamie Carpenter, his father and fore-fathers have been members of Department 19 from the very beginning and one day, daddy’s work follows him home. Jamie watches his father shot dead in front of him by Department 19 agents, just before he spots the ghostly face of a vampire girl at his window. But the death of his father isn’t enough, as one of three oldest vampire comes knocking on his door.

This book was an impulse purchase, because at the time I was concerned about bookshops closing down, the book was on half-price and the cover looked awesome. I read the blurb and it sounded like an interesting concept. When I started reading it though, I wasn’t so sure anymore. I’m tired of stories that borrow the Dracula mythos, and this one not only was borrowed from Dracula, but also from Frankenstein and on top of that, the monster slags off the authors of the originals for making a mockery of his life and for glamorizing Dracula. But then when I got past the first 50 or so pages and the plot started to unfold, I began to warm the book. The vampires for one aren’t romanticized in any way, they resemble more the scary night-stalkers from 30 Days of Night (awesome movie by the way) and perhaps some of the vampire culture from the Blade movies.

Will Hill punctuates whats going on now with chapters revealing the history of the Carpenter family and how they’ve gotten tangled up in the problems facing young Jamie, which provides more depth to the story. The pace of the plot picks up once Jamie is inducted into Department 19 and then keeps turning up the violence and the action. Although this is aimed at the YA market, Will Hill doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the action. The vampires savagely tear and rip into their victims, often decorating the vicinity with the victim’s blood and entrails and when they are slain, they don’t conveniently turn to dust, but instead explode like a sack of blood dropped from a great height.

The best thing is that when this book ends, you’re definitely going to want to read the sequel, which is due sometime next year.

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