Reviewed from an ARC.
5 stars if considered as a YA novel; 4 stars if read as an adult (it probably deserves more, Hill does a fine job—more to follow.
"It’s not a story; it’s a history lesson." So says one of the characters of Department Nineteen with regard to the novel Dracula.
It’s been a long, long time since I read something that has been such a page-turner, something plot-driven, something this exciting and this well-done. Dammit. It’s just not right. This is exceptionally well-written FanFic which melds historical fiction, supernatural fiction, and the novels Dracula and Frankenstein bringing all to the present time with a vengeance. Not only that, but in ways that do honor to the original novels and, hopefully, will inspire young adults who haven’t read them to do so while waiting for the next in the series to come out—and it bugs the hell outta me that I don’t know when it’s coming and that I’m looking forward to it so much.
Department Nineteen begins with multiple story lines: a contemporary story wherein Jamie Carpenter witnesses his father’s violent death at the hands of masked, futuristic military men before seeing his mother kidnapped by a loathsome vampire, Alexandru, some two years later; the story of what happens with Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries; and various stories of the descendants of those survivors who hunt vampires in the intervening years. All this and Frankenstein, to boot (the monster, who has since taken on the name of his creator).
Of course, it sounds hokey; how could it not? Yet, Hill succeeds in bringing his tale through a relentless 540 pages to its stunning conclusion and set up for the next volume. All great fun, a great book for young adults which is action-based and not a silly romance (although, potential for a budding romance is certainly built in—and what a peculiar romance that could turn out to be). Gore and brutality might render this one better suited for boys (I know, stereotyping, but there it is), however there’s enough compassion to recommend this one to anyone—young adult or adult. It’s fast, it’s furious, it’s fun.
Recommended to anyone who might have opportunity to get good fiction into the hands of young adults, and to any adults who have an interest in FanFic or supernatural fiction. This was included in a box of ARCs that was sent to me by the publisher; after passing over the 'girl' stories (for reading at a later date), this one didn't leap out so much as it hisssssssssssssssssed out, saying, "Read me, read me." I did, and I'm very glad I did. Very nice break from some of the other things I enjoy reading.