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 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.

The Field by Bill Nagelkerke

How on earth do you tell your family that you’d seen . . .

 . . . Our Lady . . .

 . . . The Virgin Mary . . .

 . . . The Queen of Heaven . . .

 . . . The Mother of God. (The Mother of GOD!)

 And that she had spoken to you.

 And that she was going to speak to you again.

 Up in the Crow’s Nest.


 And that was why you had to be there.

 (And that’s why you’d wet yourself.)

Jacinta’s father works as the groundsman for the local sports stadium, which they’ve nick-named The Field.  While he tends to the needs of the stadium, Jacinta looks down on the world from the Crow’s Nest, the corporate box used by the big-wigs to get the best view of the games at the stadium.  The Crow’s Nest is one of her favourite places in the world and she often pretends that she commands the players and places them where she wants them to go.  She may not have her special place for much longer if the City Council gets its way and knocks down The Field to replace it with a carpark for the new stadium.  It is while she is in the Crow’s Nest one day that Mother Mary appears to her in the television.  Jacinta doesn’t know if she is going crazy and seeing things or whether her vision is real, but when Mary appears again the next day there is no doubt.  Mary wants Jacinta to gather as many people as she can at The Field so that she can pass on a message.  The only problem is trying to get her family and the rest of her town to believe her.

The Field is a refreshingly original story from one of Christchurch’s own children’s authors, Bill Nagelkerke.  The story had a real ‘Kiwi’ feel about it, from the setting (which could be just about any city in New Zealand) to the characters.  Don’t be put off by the religious aspect to the story because I think you’d enjoy it whether or not you have any religious affiliation.  I found Jacinta easy to relate to as she was just a normal kid, and I found myself wondering what I would have done if I’d been in her situation.  In a way she’s a modern day Joan of Arc, who has to convince her parents, the priests and the other people in her city that she actually is communicating with Mother Mary and that they should listen to her message.  One thing that I particularly liked about the story was that the second part was told using different forms of media, including newspaper articles, letters to the editor and City Council meeting minutes.  This added different opinions to the story that we didn’t get in the first part.   The ending leaves you wondering whether people do turn up to hear her message and what that message might have been.  Like the other people in the story, we have to make up our own mind.

3.5 out of 5 stars

The Field is one of the first ebooks I’ve read and it’s the first title in ACHUKA’s digital publishing imprint: ACHUKAbooks.  I’ll look forward to reading their next releases.  ACHUKAbooks  are encouraging more submissions so if you are interested you can contact them at