Warning: This review contains spoilers for the first two books in the Department 19 series by Will Hill- Department 19 and The Rising.
Battle Lines is the third book in the Department 19 series by Will Hill, which follows Jamie Carpenter and his fellow operatives in Department 19 (Blacklight) – The department of the British government that hunts vampires. Yeah it doesn’t sound the best. But take my word for it, it’s excellent.
With 52 days until Zero Hour, the time when the newly-awakened Dracula will be back to his full strength, the Department isn’t exactly the strongest it’s ever been. It’s trying to build itself back up after the devastating attack that took place at the hands of Valeri Rusmanov at the end of the previous book, and the kidnapping of the Director, Henry Seward. That means taking on new recruits, and trying to train them as quickly as possible so that they can be ready for action when needed. And that moment comes a lot sooner than anybody was expecting, as the unthinkable happens. Several of the highest security prisons around the world are broken into, the staff massacred, and all the inmates turned. But they aren’t the usual newly-turned vampires. Oh no. For some reason they have strength and speed far surpassing that of a normal vampire.
Meanwhile, Dracula is still building up his strength, and the Department don’t really have any way to stop him…
So all in all, it seems like there’s a lot of doom and gloom. And there is, there’s no denying that Battle Lines is quite a bit darker than either of the previous two books. But the darkness actually makes it an easier read, at least to me. It conveys the sense that if Dracula is allowed to regain his full strength, it will be absolutely horrendous. So in this book, Dracula goes from being a threat in the distance – real, but still quite far away – to a genuine, and rather immediate threat. Which is a very good thing from a reader’s point of view.
We get a very different perspective on the morality of what Blacklight does. Larissa especially seems to be of the mind that they shouldn’t be killing vampires just because they’re vampires. They haven’t done anything wrong, they didn’t choose to be a vampire, so why should they be killed on sight? And while it’s not addressed as much in this book as I presume it will be in the next, it’s certainly a very interesting point to mull over.
Plot wise, there’s really not a slow point throughout the book. It just keeps going for seven hundred pages, and to be honest it’s brilliant. A problem I have with a lot of the books I read is that they’re over too soon, and I definitely don’t have that complaint about Battle Lines.
All in all I’d probably give Battle Lines 4/5 stars, because while it wasn’t exceptional, it was very very good, and I couldn’t put it down.