Tag Archives: Department 19

Department 19: Battle Lines by Will Hill

Will Hill is one of those authors that just keeps impressing me.  I was blown away by his first Department 19 book when it came out in 2011, then he took things up a notch last year in Department 19: The Rising.  Now Jamie, Larissa and Department 19 are back and even more awesome than ever in the latest installment, Department 19: Battle Lines.

As the clock ticks remorselessly towards Zero Hour and the return of Dracula, the devastated remnants of Department 19 try to hold back the rising darkness. Jamie Carpenter is training new recruits, trying to prepare them for a fight that appears increasingly futile. Kate Randall is pouring her grief into trying to plug the Department’s final leaks, as Matt Browning races against time to find a cure for vampirism. And on the other side of the world, Larissa Kinley has found a place she feels at home, yet where she makes a startling discovery. Uneasy truces are struck, new dangers emerge on all sides, and relationships are pushed to breaking point. And in the midst of it all, Department 19 faces a new and potentially deadly threat, born out of one of the darkest moments of its own long and bloody history. Zero Hour is coming. And the Battle Lines have been drawn.

Department 19: Battle Lines is full of everything I loved about the previous books – vicious blood-sucking vampires, cool weapons and technology, suspense, action, violence, and Frankenstein.  Battle Lines is the biggest book yet (at 702 pages) and there is so much happening.  I’d love to know how Will keeps track with everything that’s happening.  You finish a chapter and just want to go straight on with the next one to find out what’s happening with the other characters. 

Like the other books in the series, there are lots of different threads of the story and many characters whose story we’re following.  If the Department didn’t have enough problems dealing with the attack on The Loop and the imminent rise of Dracula, they have another crisis to deal with.  Patients from mental institutions around the world have been ‘turned’ and escaped, leaving incredibly powerful and unpredictable vampires running loose.  It’s up to the Operators, including Jamie and his new recruits, to hunt down and terminate them before they create havoc.  While Jamie is out hunting vampires, his friends are busy with their own important tasks.  Kate helps carry out interviews to try and find the leaks within the Department, Matt works on a cure for vampirism as part of the reformed Lazarus Project, and Larissa is sent to NS9 in America to help them and select a team to bring back to the Department.  A descendant of of the founders of Department 19 is also out for revenge and threatens to blow the Department wide open by exposing them.  All of this is happening while Dracula bides his time in a chateau in France.

Will’s range of characters is great, from the members of Blacklight to the vampires and the minor characters.  With each book you find out more about the main characters and get introduced to new ones.  One of the things I really liked about this book was that Will is introducing new characters who will go on to play a greater part in the series. 

The pages of the book are dripping with vampire blood and you can almost smell the charred vampire flesh.  Will’s vampires explode like a balloon when staked in the heart and they burst into flame when shot with a UV gun.  There’s more than enough blood, gore and violence to keep any horror fan happy.

I can’t wait to find out where Will takes us from here.  I know one thing for sure – whatever happens, it will be epic!

Win Department 19: Battle Lines

Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have a copy of Department 19: Battle Lines to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Friday 17 May (NZ only).

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Department 19: New Recruit

New Recruit is the second part of the Department 19 animated web comic created by Will Hill and Tom Percival.  You can watch the first part, If you go down to the woods today, here on the blog.

The latest book in Will Hill’s Department 19 series, Department 19: Battle Lines is out now.

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Department 19: If you go down to the woods…

Tom Percival is the brilliant artist that creates the amazing Skulduggery Pleasant covers.  He’s also an animator, and an author and illustrator of his own picture books.  Tom created this very cool video to promote Will Hill’s Department 19 series.

The latest book in Will Hill’s Department 19 series, Department 19: Battle Lines is out now.  Department 19 is one of my favourite series and I can’t wait to sink my teeth in to this latest book.  Keep an eye on the blog for my review and your chance to win a copy.

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Introducing The Department 19 Files by Will Hill

I’m a huge fan of Will Hill’s Department 19 series.  I love them because they’re action-packed and gory, and there are vicious, blood-sucking vampires galore.  If you haven’t come across the series you can read my reviews of Department 19 and Department 19: The Rising here on the blog.

The third book in this awesome series, Department 19: Battle Lines will be released in April in New Zealand (March 28th in the UK).  In the lead-up to the release of Battle Lines, Will Hill is publishing three Department 19 short stories as ebooks.  The Department 19 Files is a trilogy of new stories, set in the same world as Jamie’s, but further back in history.  Will describes the stories as:

“…some of the darkest, most painful stuff I’ve written, and are full of all the action and gore you’ll be expecting. They shed light on the early years of Blacklight and how it became the organisation that Jamie and his friends are parts of, and they allowed me to write about one of the most fascinating periods in history, a period of mechanised death and devastation on a scale that is almost unimaginable in these days of drone strikes and laser-targeted bombs.”

The three stories are being released over the next three weeks in the lead up to the release of Battle Lines, and you can buy them from Amazon.com or Kobo in NZ.  Will explains what each of the stories is about on his blog:

“if you want to read about Quincey Harker and his horrifying adventures in the darkness of the Western Front, pick up The Devil In No Man’s Land. If you want to see a younger Valeri Rusmanov doing what he does best as Europe is gripped by the flu pandemic of 1918 (and read some of the nastiest stuff I’ve ever written!) then stick around for Undead in the Eternal City. And if you want to know what happened when Quincey Harker returned home and discovered the truth about what his father and his friends really do, then The New Blood contains the answers, along with some characters that fans of Dracula will be very familiar with!”

I’ve just read the first story, The Devil in No Man’s Land, and it’s bloody brilliant!  Set in the muddy battlefields of the Western Front, it tells the story of Quincey Harker (a character you’ll be familiar with if you’ve read any of the other Department 19 books) and the members of the Special Reconnaissance Unit.  They fought relentlessly for their country and were given medals that they could never be officially awarded, but none of them were prepared for the horror that they would discover in Passchendaele.  Will Hill is brilliant at building suspense and having you on the edge of your seat, waiting to find out what Quincey and his squad will come across next.  The gore that I love in the Department 19 books is certainly here in this compact little story and Will portrays the horrors of war very well.

One of the things I like the most about the Department 19 books are the historical chapters that give you background to the story and the organisation, so it’s great that Will has written these ebook short stories.  The great thing about The Department 19 Files is that they can be read separate from the rest of the books, so even someone who hasn’t read the others would enjoy these.  They would be a great way to hook readers into the series too.

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Shiverton Hall by Emerald Fennell

Barry Hutchison, Will Hill, Joseph Delaney and Derek Landy are some of my favourite authors because of the way that they can creep me out, but also having me hanging on every word.  I can now add another author to this list, one with possibly the coolest name around – Emerald Fennell.  With a name like that you’re destined to become an author or an actress, and she’s both.  Her debut novel, Shiverton Hall, is a chilling tale set in a boarding school in England.

Arthur Bannister has been unexpectedly accepted into Shiverton Hall, which, as it turns out, is an incredibly spooky school, full of surprises. And it is just as well that Shiverton Hall has made its offer, because Arthur had a horrible time at his previous school, and was desperate to leave. Timely indeed . . .

But Arthur has no time to worry about the strange coincidence. He is too busy trying to make head or tail of Shiverton Hall, dogged as it is by tales of curses and bad fortune. At least there are a few friendly faces: George, who shows him around; also Penny and Jake. But not all the faces are friendly. There are the bullying Forge triplets for starters. And then there is the acid tongue of the headmistress, Professor Long-Pitt, who seems to go out of her way to make Arthur’s life a misery.

Luckily Arthur has his new friends to cheer him up. Although there are some friends that you don’t want to have at all, as Arthur is soon to find out.

I absolutely loved Shiverton Hall!  It brings together elements of my favourite horror series, Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends and Will Hill’s Department 19, mixes it with a touch of Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror stories, and sets it in a kind of sinister Hogwarts.  I don’t want to give too much detail in case I spoil the story, but needless to say, if you love Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends books about sinister invisible friends then you will love this story!  I liken the story to Will Hill’s Department 19 and Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror because Emerald Fennell breaks up the story of the children in the present time with stories about the history of Shiverton Hall.  The grandfather of George (one of the main characters) wrote a book called Accounts of the Supernatural and Preternatural at Shiverton Hall and Its Surrounds, and George tells his friends some of the stories throughout the book, so you find out about what has happened at Shiverton Hall in the past.  These stories of Shiverton Hall’s past are seriously creepy and I was really 0n edge as I was reading them.  Like when you watch a horror movie, I found myself holding my breath, waiting for something to jump out at me.  These historical stories are what made the book so great and I wanted to know even more about the sinister history of Shiverton Hall.

There is plenty of mystery to keep you reading too.  You want to know what is making the students do strange things, why doesn’t the headmistress believe anything they say, and what secret is Arthur keeping hidden?  Emerald keeps you guessing right up to the very end.  Just when you think the worst is over though, she knocks you in the guts and leaves you desperately wanting more.

I sure hope that Emerald is planning to write a sequel as I’m sure Arthur’s story is far from finished.  I’ll be waiting with bated breath.  In the mean time I’ll go and read her Shiverton short story, The Quality Chophouse, for free here.  If you know any young horror fans, Shiverton Hall is a must read, and it’s perfect for primary and secondary school libraries (Year 7 and up).

5 out of 5 stars

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Guest Author: Why I Read (And Write) Scary Books by Will Hill

Will Hill is the author of one of my favourite books of 2011, Department 19.  The sequel, Department 19: The Rising came out earlier this year and was even better.  To celebrate the release of The Rising, Will Hill wrote this fantastic guest post about why he reads (and writes) scary books.  Since it’s nearly Halloween I thought I’d re-post it. Enjoy his post and make sure you grab the Department 19 books for some seriously creepy, gory and action-packed reading.

When I was about 12 I was so scared by Stephen King’s It that I slept with the light on, having placed the book, a beautiful old library hardback with a terrifying oil-painted amusement park clown on the cover, in the middle of my bedroom floor where I could keep an eye on it.

It was the prologue that did it.

George Denbrough chases a paper boat down the flooded streets of his hometown, until he loses it down an overflowing drain. A drain in which he finds a friendly, charming clown. A clown that suddenly changes shape and pulls George’s arm off at the shoulder, leaving him to bleed to death in the rain and the rushing water.

That was it for me.

Not only was it the moment when I closed that particular book and asked my mum to take it back to the library for me, as I was too scared to touch the thing myself, but it was also when I first understood the power that certain books can possess. The power to scare you silly.

I wrote Department 19 because I wanted to tell a story, about an ordinary boy called Jamie Carpenter who is thrown into an extraordinary world where he is forced to sink or swim, where he finds out who he really is. But I’ll be totally honest – I wanted to scare readers as well. Not because I’m mean, or vicious, or some kind of sadist, but because I think that books have a unique quality that I wanted to take advantage of – how scary they are is limited only by the power of the reader’s imagination.

I can describe the vampires in Department 19 in as much detail as I choose, but the picture of them that appears in one reader’s head is still going to be very different to that in someone else’s. In films and TV, the monsters, the villains, the frightening and scary things, are fully formed and shown, decisions that the director and the makeup department have made and then presented to you, whole. That doesn’t mean they can’t be scary, not at all – The Exorcist, The Omen, the original A Nightmare On Elm Street, all scared the hell out of me when I was younger than I am now. But they’re a communal experience, where everyone who sees them sees the same thing.

Books are different. With books, it’s just the words on the page and the power of your own mind. It’s personal.

When I was a teenager, I went straight from reading children’s books to reading Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Herbert etc. My mother, who always encouraged me to read, and who would regularly bring me horror paperbacks home from the second-hand shops near where we lived, even though she didn’t really approve of them, would often ask me “Why do you read all that horrible stuff?” She still asks me that question, but now she also adds “How can you think of the horrible stuff you write?” I didn’t have an answer for her when I was younger, but I think I understand it a bit better now.

I loved (and still love) horror because nothing makes you feel more alive than staring into the darkness and confronting the things that scare you.

It’s placing yourself in harm’s way, without actually taking any physical risk. It’s like being on a rollercoaster – you know full well that it’s safe, you know that nothing genuinely bad is going to happen to you, but your heart is still pounding, your palms are still clammy, and you’re still wearing that slightly hysterical grin that is meant to show you’re not scared, but in fact gives you away completely. And while the ride may be horrible, may be a terrible, gut-churning ordeal that you never, ever, ever want to do again, when you get off at the other end, your legs wobbling and your face pale, the sensation of being alive, of having survived, is wonderful. It’s adrenaline and it’s probably mild hysteria, but ultimately it’s the primal, joyous sense of being alive.

That’s what scary books did for me.

Still do.

You can confront terrible things, evils both great and small, violence and pain and anguish and loss, and you can do it all from the comfort of your favourite chair, or lying in bed with a lamp on, the one that’s light doesn’t quite reach the corners of the room, the dark corners where things can hide, and wait. And if it gets too much, you can simply close the book, and come back to the real world for a while.

For some reason, the human brain seems to contain a tendency towards the masochistic; it’s the bit of your mind that looks at the rollercoaster tracks and thinks it can see cracks in the metal, that looks at the dog being walked innocently in the park and imagines it suddenly accelerating towards you, its jaws wide, foam frothing from its mouth. This is the bit of our brains that give horror its power. And it’s why I still read scary books, and why I write them. Because I love the thought of tapping into something primal, of experiencing something visceral.

Because being scared is good.

It’s one of the ways that you know you’re alive.

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Win Department 19: The Rising

Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have 5 copies of Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw for a copy is answer this question:  What is the name of the monster who is part of Department 19?  Enter your answer, your name and email address below to get in the draw.

This competition has now closed.  Thanks to those who entered.

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Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill

Will Hill’s Department 19 was one of my favourite books of 2011 so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the sequel.  Until Department 19 came along I’d been put off vampires because most of the vampire books around seemed to be about vampires that sparkled and spent their time scowling at girls or were stuck in a love triangle.  Department 19 blew me away because Will’s vampire were vicious and would do anything to get the blood they needed to survive.  Department 19: The Rising amps up the violence, the blood and guts, and the action.

91 DAYS TILL ZERO HOUR.

THAT’S 91 DAYS TO RUN.

91 DAYS TO HIDE.

OR 91 DAYS TO PRAY FOR DEPARTMENT 19 TO SAVE YOU…

After the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne at the end of the first book, Jamie, Larissa and Kate are recovering at Department 19 headquarters, waiting for news of Dracula’s stolen ashes.

They won’t be waiting for long.

Vampire forces are gathering. Old enemies are getting too close. And Dracula… is rising.

The 700 brilliant pages of Department 19: The Rising are dripping with blood and vampire guts.  The Rising is even better than the first book, as Will amps up the violence, blood and guts, and the action.  One of the reasons I loved Department 19 so  much was because of the history of the organisation and their fight with vampires and Will gives us more of this in The Rising.  At the end of the first book we were left wondering if Frankenstein survived and Will explains what happened to him and tells us about Frankenstein’s history, including his links with some horrendous vampires.  Sometimes when you’re reading a book you wish that you knew what happened to a character before you meet them, so that you know why they act the way they do, and I love that Will shows us these details.  The Rising could be half the length it is without this back-story but it’s this that makes the book so brilliant.

One thing I especially liked about The Rising is that Will shows us that not all vampires are evil.  Some vampires wish nothing more than to be human again and hide away from the world as much as they can.  They still need to feed so get animal blood from a butcher or find other ways that mean they don’t have to kill humans.  There are vampires of all ages, including fathers and daughters, and some of them just want to carry on living the way they did before they were turned.

The Rising is real boys book.  Department 19 is a secret government organisation that protects the world from the supernatural (especially vampires) and they’re equipped with some great weapons, including the T-Bone, a gun that fires a stake at vampires.  There’s more blood and guts in this book than what I’ve seen in any vampire movie.  Whenever a vampire is staked in the heart it explodes like a balloon leaving the Operators covered in blood and chunks of vampire.  Will has written some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever read, with blood squirting everywhere and they left me feeling quite queasy.

Anyone who loved Department 19 should get their hands on The Rising and you should shove the Department 19 books into the hands of any teenage boy you know.  They’re perfect for readers of Anthony Horowitz, Robert Muchamore and Darren Shan.

5 out of 5 stars

NB: I know some primary schools have the first book in their libraries but I wouldn’t suggest The Rising for your library unless you really know your readers can handle it.

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Will Hill introduces Department 19: The Rising

Department 19: The Rising is the sequel to Will Hill’s 2011 debut.  It’s one of my most anticipated April new releases and I can’t wait to get into it.  Will Hill’s Department 19 books are perfect books for boys, especially those who like Anthony Horowitz and Robert Muchamore.  There’s plenty of action, violence, blood and guts, and vicious (non-sparkling) blood-sucking vampires.

Will Hill will be joining me on the blog in April to tell us why he writes (and reads) scary stories, and I’ll have a chance to win the first two Department 19 books.

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Department 19 by Will Hill

Department 19 is a book about vampires, werewolves and all the supernatural creatures that live in the dark.  These are no sparkly vampires though, they’re vicious, blood-suckers who you don’t want to bump into in the dark.

When Jamie Carpenter’s mother is kidnapped one night by strange creatures, he is suddenly dragged into a world he didn’t know existed.  He’s recruited by Department 19, a secret government department that protects the world against the supernatural, including werewolves and some extremely dangerous and powerful vampires.  Jamie is taken under the wing of one of Department 19’s top agents, Frankenstein, and helps introduce him to the skills and weapons that he’ll need to get his mother back and kill the vampires who want him dead.

Department 19 is the first book in a fantastically  gory, action-packed new series.  There is enough blood and guts throughout the book to keep you hooked and the ending leaves you craving for more.  My favourite thing about Department 19 was that there were flash backs to other times and places that told you how and why the Department was formed, as well as giving you some background about the families involved.   I loved all the characters, from Jamie who is coming to terms with his family’s past, to the teenage vampire girl, Larissa, and all of the vampires in between.  My favourite character had to be Frankenstein because of his loyalty to Jamie’s family.  I thought it was awesome to have a monster like him as part of a secret government agency.  The next book will probably include both Frankenstein and Dracula so the series can only get better.   If you like books by Derek Landy, Darren Shan and Joseph Delaney, you’ll love Department 19 by Will Hill.      Recommended for 12 +   

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