Razorbill (Penguin), Mar 19 2011, $17.00
In 2007 in Kent, England, fourteen years old Jamie Carpenter and his mom Marie watched from inside his family house as his father Julian steps outside with a gun in hand only to be shot to death on the front lawn. Soon afterward the police informed stunned mother and son that Julian was caught selling highly classified information to a terrorist cell. The mail starts to arrive informing the pair that a family with a traitor is unwanted. They moved three times in two years.
The terror begins when pretty Larissa prepares to take Jamie but could not do it. He races home to find his mom missing and Alexandru with razorblade teeth coming for him when a giant Frankenstein saves the teen’s life. The “Monster” brings Jamie to the government’s extremely classified Department 19; the only unit without a title. He learns that over a hundred years ago Abraham Van Helsing and his team of survivors formed the cell to police the supernatural. Europe’s most powerful vampire since Dracula has captured Marie. Frank and Larissa join Jamie on a quest to find his mom.
Department 19 is a great urban and historical fantasy as the exciting story line rotates between the Department’s past escapades across Europe starting with that late Victorian war in Transylvania and London against Dracula and the young hero’s quest. Both subplots are well written while filled with suspense that grips the reader from the moment Julian is killed. Teens of all ages will relish Jamie’s run as Frank mentors him and Larissa keeps switching from wanting a bite of him to needing protecting him as readers will wonder whose side is she on.