Department 19 by Will Hill is my second YA book of the month and is Hill’s debut novel. This one has the interesting premise of what if Dracula and Frankenstein (the books) were basically factual accounts. Through a nice inter-cutting of past scenes (with Van Helsing and others), near present background scenes and the present Hill presents a fast paced thriller with a goodly amount of blood–no sparkly vampires here.
The main protagonist is Jamie Carpenter. We first meet Jamie is a near present scene as his dad is killed by what appears to be a SWAT team of some sort. Jamie and his mother are forced to move around as neighbors react to what they perceive as Jamie’s fathers possible treasonous death.
This ends when Jamie’s mother is kidnapped and Jamie is saved from a menacing personage (a vampire) by a very large man in SWAT gear. The large man turns out to be Frankenstein’s monster (going by the name of Victor Frankenstein now) and Victor takes Jamie to a Department 19 base.
Department 19 was set up by Van Helsing and the British government after the events in Dracula when it became clear that the vampire effect was not contained to Transylvania. Department 19 has been battling the vampires ever since. It turns out that Jamie’s great-grandfather was the valet of Van Helsing and that his family has a special connection with Department 19. Unfortunately, this connection has gotten his mother kidnapped by the vampires and it seems that his father betrayed the department to these same vampires. The only course is for Jamie to save his mother.
Jamie seemed a bit headstrong and immature at times, but he is only 16 in the book and he is encountering a whole new world that he had thought was fantasy until a few days ago. In general the book was quite well written and was fun to read. It does have a YA voice to it and this probably stood out a bit more to me since I’ve been reading through Chandler recently, so the style is quite different (this isn’t a drawback of this book–just something I noticed more than I might have otherwise.)
So, if YA horror/thriller is of interest to you, then this book should please. I plan on getting the sequel when it comes out.