The Rook, Daniel O’Malley

therookThe body you are wearing used to be mine.

So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

Find the book on Goodreads.

There are many attempts at describing what exactly this book is in reviews over on Goodreads, and Amazon and various other places about the internet.  For my part, I found the book read similarly to Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, which is fine, because I enjoy that kind of thing. I thought Myfanwy herself was rather Thursday-ish and found herself constantly in rather Thursday-ish situations.  She is methodical and no nonsense, even in the face of the most ridiculous situations.  She takes matters into her own hands and saves the day, so far so good.

I enjoyed the paranormal side to the world O’Malley created and I liked that the supernatural powers he gave his characters were… unusual.  There are a few characters with useful abilities, several more rather random ones, and a whole host of abilities described that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  I also enjoyed the juxtaposition of the ‘old’ Myfanwy Thomas with the Myfanwy Thomas who woke up, in the rain, surrounded by bodies wearing latex gloves.  This aspect of the book – the whole premise, in other words – was also, unfortunately, the cause for my biggest annoyance while reading it.  For half of the book I was getting along fine with the explanations provided, rather handily, by past Rook Thomas in the form of a large binder.  This flashback/info dumping combination is relentless though, and doesn’t let up for the entire book.  I became annoyed and ended up skimming a large portion of these scenes as the story went on.

But I liked the world, and the characters and more than that, it was the writing I enjoyed.  Just not enough to continue with the series if/when future books are released.  Unless you can guarantee me that ‘old’ Rook Thomas won’t make an appearance, and I don’t really see that she should.  Great as a standalone though.

three - Copy

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