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Literature / Department 19

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"Battling vampires since 1892. Now it's time to raise the stakes."

Department 19 is a series of novels by Will Hill.

The premise: Jamie Carpenter's life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein's monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.

Book two, Department 19: The Rising, was released in August of 2012. The plot is a race against the clock to track down Valeri Rusmanov before Dracula can return to full power. The third book, Department 19: Battle Lines, was released in August of 2013, and the fourth, Zero Hour, was released in June 2014. Darkest Night, the fifth and final book, was released in June of 2015.


  • Afraid of Their Own Strength: Larissa has a lot of fear and hatred for the vampire aspects of her. Marie Carpenter, too, is scared of what she's become by the end of the first book.
  • Alternate Reality Game: A good portion of the marketing campaign and website is done in this style. There are conspiracy videos on the book's website, showing strange sightings and things that are chalk full of Fridge Brilliance. Bonus if you're logged onto Facebook as you check out the main video. It's a mock news report of several children in the area vanishing after "beings with red eyes" were spotted during the night. The site will take your profile picture and those of two friends and place them on the pictures of the missing people. (Can be unintentionally hilarious if you or one of your friends happen to be using a gag image and not an actual picture of him or herself.)
  • Action Girl: We're given plenty. Kate Randall, Angela Darcy and Lizzy Ellison all qualify, with several other female Operators around.
  • Apocalypse How: Dracula rising to full power is speculated in-universe to be a Class 2.
  • Ax-Crazy: Alexandru is a textbook example. Dracula is even more vicious, but he keeps it restrained enough that he seems polite.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Dracula, the classic novel by Bram Stoker, is stated to have been fact in book two. Dracula himself is also revealed to have once been Vlad Tepes, a nonfictional person and one of the suspected sources of inspiration for the villain of Bram Stoker's classic novel.
    • Bram Stoker himself has an appearance as the drunken night manager of a theatre, and he actually goes with Van Helsing down below said theatre to fight a vampire.
  • BFG: There's 'T-Bone's (pneumatic stake launchers which work like harpoon guns) and submachine guns from the get go, and occasionally Daybreakers turn up, huge Russian guns which aren't standard issue for Department 19 Operators due to them being deemed too destructive. They do fire explosive packs which lock into their victims before blowing them apart.
    • Frankenstein also gets an absolutely huge shotgun which isn't standard issue either.
  • BFS: Dracula wields one in Zero Hour.
  • Big Bad: Vlad Tepes, but best known as Count Dracula.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The battle at Château Dauncy in Zero Hour and the final battle in Carcassone in Darkest Night
  • Big Brother Instinct: A flashback in book two reveals that Alexandru was once this to Valentin — before he grew up to be a complete madman, that is. Valentin then relies on That Man Is Dead logic to separate himself from Alexandru.
  • Big, Bulky Bomb: General Allen, leader of the American Department 19, drops one on Chateau Dauncy,just before the real fight begins at the end of Zero Hour.
    • Also, in the final battle in Darkest Night, the combatants nearly get nuked by one of these, before Valentin defuses it.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the first novel: Jamie's mother is safe, but she's now a vampire. Alexandru is seemingly dead but Frankenstein most likely didn't survive the fall in his fight with a werewolf. Dracula's remains have also been stolen and he has been brought back to life.
    • For the whole series, the Big Bad has been defeated and most of the main cast is left with a fairly optimistic outlook, but not without a significant number of character deaths along the way, including Frankenstein and Julian Carpenter, leaving Jamie without a father figure. Furthermore, the organisations are left on an uncertain note. Some seem to think that they're losing their place in the world, and whilst this may seem a good thing, the audience have had five books of growing to know and love the characters within them, so it can be a melancholy feeling.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: So very much. On one hand, we have secret organisations which can kill vampires — sentient, thinking humans — at will with no trial and no consequences. They lie to the public, and they have definitely done some horrific things in their past. However, they're facing up against an Ax-Crazy monster who will literally destroy society as we know it because of hubris and sheer madness.
  • Canis Major: The werewolves. Frankenstein of all beings becomes one in the sequel.
  • Character Development: We get to see Jamie progress from basically a moody, petulant teenager to a man who's confronted not only external horrors, but the problems within himself.
    • Larissa goes from nearly murdering Jamie and Matt, as well as teasing Jamie and delaying the search for Marie Carpenter for her own ends, to being a somewhat sympathetic antagonist, to being an ace Blacklight operator and best friends with the very boys she once tried to kill, to questioning everything that Blacklight stands for and going her own way. She's also kind of a meta example of Ascended Extra, since the author has stated that he never intended her to be a main character — she was originally going to show up, show Jamie how dangerous this new world is, and then spend the rest of the book sitting in a cell.
    • Paul Turner grows from basically a somewhat menacing presence and a piercing stare in the first book to a complex, fleshed-out badass with all his flaws and virtues.
  • Covered in Scars: Frankenstein. Obviously. He gains a few more after his encounter in Paris, too.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Vampires tend to do this to their victims, and staking a vampire causes them to explode into Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Dark Action Girl: Larissa
  • Disappeared Dad: Jamie's dad was killed when he was fourteen. Not really.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Dracula once slaughtered an entire village in northern Romania via Cold-Blooded Torture and forcing its inhabitants to do horrible things to their loved ones because the mayor's wife didn't bow properly to him.
    • Alexandru Rusmanov also loves to do this. Larissa doesn't kill Jamie when told? He flies off with her, then beats her to the brink of death and drops her out of the sky. A vampire girl might have been seen by her victim's family? He tears her limb from limb and eats her heart. Anderson fails to answer a simple question? Alexandru rips his tongue out. Jamie goes looking for him? Alexandru and his vampires go to Lindisfarne Island, which has about 160 inhabitants, and horribly slaughter at least half of them.
  • Doorstopper: All 5 novels are well over 500 pages, with Darkest Night over 700, but all are quick reads.
  • The Dragon: Valeri Rusmanov to Dracula. All three of the Rusmanovs used to be this, but in the intervening years since Dracula's death, Valentin decided to become immensely wealthy and keep to himself, and Alexandru went even more insane and carved his own warpath.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Whatever it is that turned Vlad Tepes into Dracula. It spawns from an ancient forest clearing devoid of plant life, looks like a huge structure of shifting black liquid with a Slasher Smile, and is absorbed into Vlad after making a deal with him. Jamie's group finds its clearing centuries later in Zero Hour while searching for the First Victim, and it returns at the end of Darkest Night to drag Dracula into nothingness before vanishing itself, but nobody in the series even comes close to explaining what it actually is.
  • Government Conspiracy: Other nations' equivalents to Department 19 are mentioned more than once in Department 19, and by Darkest Night the reader has been introduced to leaders and members of several different nations' forces, from America to Russia to China.
  • Gorn: For what is ostensibly a young adult novel, the first book itself becomes fairly violent and gruesome as it goes along. One character has a fountain of blood explode from him as his neck is slashed open and vampires exploding into showers of gore and blood when killed are just some examples. Each installment is more gruesome than the last.
  • Good Is Not Nice: In The Rising, Valentin Rusmanov says that he likes the world and has no wish to see Dracula tear it apart, so he teams up with Blacklight. However, whilst he's technically on the right side, he's by no means nice to everyone. In Battle Lines, he's rude and abrasive when talking to Frankenstein and is downright horrible to Kate about Jamie and his mum (despite his later claims that he did it to help her, which could be true, but it definitely doesn't count as 'nice').
    • Whilst he's a good guy at heart, Paul Turner is not what you'd call nice (to most people, anyway). He has to make some pretty morally murky decisions throughout the course of the books, and it's hinted that he's done worse in his military past.
    • Could be seen as a general theme in the books, considering a lot of the characters are spun this way. Frankenstein is gruff and abrasive a lot of the time, Henry Seward is a Grumpy Old Man, and several characters, most notably Paul Turner and Angela Darcy, are stated to have very dark pasts.
  • Groin Attack: Larissa to Garcia Rejon in Battle Lines.
  • I Am What I Am: Valentin invokes this word for word and has a lot of this in his character.
    • Paul Turner also has this mentality; particular attention is drawn to it in Darkest Night when he joins in with the final battle against Dracula, showing 'the job which he had always been so horribly good at.'
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Talbot is shot during his evil monologue.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Matt realizes very early on that his intelligence would get him relentlessly bullied, so he chooses to hide it.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Convincingly faked by Matt Browning so that he would be let out of the Loop and could return to civilian life. Jamie sees through it, though.
  • Light Is Not Good: Tim Albertsson, handsome, blonde and a complete douche.
  • Loser Son of Loser Dad: After Jamie's dad is killed following his betrayal of the country to 'terrorists', the poor kid is relentlessly bullied at every school he moves to. Even when he gets into Department 19, he gets a lot of crap from people who hate him for what his dad did. This evaporates once Jamie kills one of the only Priority Level 1 vampires and his dad's innocence is proved.
  • Malicious Slander: Thomas Morris set this up around Julian Carpenter
  • Memetic Badass: In-universe, there are several, especially Quincey Harker. From the way people in the Department talk about him, it's as if he built and designed every modern weapon used by them and could mow down a whole army of vampires by himself.
  • The Mole - Thomas Morris in the first book. At the end of The Rising, we find out that Richard Talbot is one as well. In Battle Lines, there's Richard Brennan, however, in Zero Hour it turns out he was not working for Dracula as expected but was instead part of an old Russian project called Safeguard - the SPC, Russia's supernatural protection force, placed spies inside other Departments during the Cold War.
  • Monster Mash - From the get-go, we're given vampires and Frankenstein. By the end of the novel, werewolves join into the fray.
    • Zombies are also mentioned but not seen.
  • No Hero to His Valet: Wonderfully subverted in a literal example with Van Helsing, who not only is very polite to his valet, he even lets said valet into the newly formed Blacklight. And the valet's name? Henry Carpenter, our hero's great grandfather.
  • Non-Action Guy: Matt. Even when nearly every operator ever goes out to fight, he's excused because he's not a soldier, he's a scientist.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: What Dracula has planned for Henry Seward's ultimate fate is never revealed to the reader, but it is revealed to Seward. Dracula even attempts to dissuade him from asking about it, and Seward's response to merely being told about it is to vomit and pass out.
    • In a flashback sequence in the first book, we have one operator getting a bullet to the head from his team mates because he'd been bitten by a vampire and didn't want to turn into one.
    'We don't let people turn. Ever.'
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain - Just because Larissa never killed a human being doesn't mean she can't rip vampires apart.
    • In The Rising, Valentin Rusmanov defects and joins Blacklight to help them stop Dracula. However, this doesn't mean he is necessarily 'good'. In Zero Hour, he messily kills a vampire couple who destroyed his home and a load of Valeri's followers placed in a house to stop him.
    • Just because Dracula spends the middle books feeble and recuperating doesn't mean he can't send out mooks with the plasma from his fangs to turn vampires, and then recover to be an immensely powerful whirlwind of rage.
  • Not Quite Dead: Frankenstein
    • Julian Carpenter.
  • Our Monsters Are Different
    • Our Vampires Are Different: They aren't The Undead, they're mutants, and the mutation is spread by saliva. The mutation activates a dormant part of the brain called the V gland and greatly boosts their metabolism (making them leave a larger heat signature on infrared than ordinary humes), but the latter must be sustained by feeding on blood (not necessarily human). The V gland gives them abilities like Super-Strength, super-speed, enhanced senses, and flight, and drinking blood allows them to heal even quite serious injuries almost instantly. They're also extremely vulnerable to UV light, and being staked through the heart causes them to explode into a shower of gore. They also get Stronger with Age, and the older the vampire that turned them, the stronger they start out as. Last but not least, they are very much able to enter a house uninvited.
  • Parental Substitute: Frankenstein is a father figure to Jamie. He and Marie even have a conversation in Zero Hour about how many Jamie appears to acquire, with the more obvious (Frankenstein, Valentin and Cal Holmwood) to the rather more surprising (Paul Turner) being listed.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Jamie has a tendency to do this. Quite a lot. He yells at Blacklight Director Henry Seward when he refuses to give Jamie the resources to find his mother. He yells at Frankenstein for being abrasive to the vampire chemist. He yells at Frankenstein again, seriously this time, when Tom Morris makes him believe that Frankenstein helped to kill Jamie's dad. Jamie's a pretty angry kid.
    • In Darkest Night, Jamie finds out that Frankenstein knew that his father was alive and never told him, when he refuses to speak to the guy for six months.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: All vampires.
  • Retired Badass: Alan Foster from Darkest Night. Volunteers to help take down Dracula.
  • Rousing Speech: There's quite a few, mostly from Cal Holmwood, but Paul Turner gets his moments.
  • Shout-Out: Many due to the novel following elements from both Dracula and Frankenstein.
    • The book features a list of different departments of the English government. Department 19 is listed as CLASSIFIED, while MI 6 is also on the list.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Jamie enters the Department hearing all of the tales of both the daring exploits and legendary bravery of his father, and his awful treachery.
    • In-universe, Quincey Harker is seen as nothing less than legend, and so is this to everyone except Frankenstein, who actually knew the guy.
    • Dracula is described as 'A greater man than history ever recorded, and a more terrible monster than legend ever conveyed.'
  • Teen Genius: Jamie becomes one of the most famous and respected members of Department 19 at the age of 16, and Matt Browning is shown to have an IQ of 196 when he joins the Department in the second book. Natalia Lenski as well.
  • Tell Me About My Father: Invoked almost word for word by Jamie to Frankenstein in the first book. Considering the latter has known three generations of the Carpenter family, it was going to happen sooner or later.
  • Time Skip: In Darkest Night, there are six months in the middle of the book where there's no real narrative, but instead excerpts from civilian media in the wake of the public finding out about the existence of vampires and the organisations which fight them.
  • Undying Loyalty: Valeri towards Dracula.
    • And Frankenstein to the Carpenter family.
  • Unstoppable Rage: DRACULA.
  • World of Badass: There are of course the vampires such as Larissa and Jamie, as well as Frankenstein, but even the human operators count.
  • You Remind Me of X: Basically everyone comments on how Jamie is like Julian.
    • Whilst he never actually voices it to Jamie, Paul Turner privately notes that Jamie reminds him of his younger self.