The Rook by Daniel O’Malley is a seriously funny story about a supernatural woman that works for a top-secret branch of government in the UK that aims to cover up and quiet the supernatural population so that non-powered people don’t know of their existence. It’s kind of like wizards hiding their existence from Muggles. Got it?
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
Series: The Checquy Files #1
on January 11th 2012
Narrator: Susan Duerden
Length: 17 hrs and 51 mins
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"The 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.
Filled with characters both fascinating and fantastical, The Rook is a richly inventive, suspenseful, and often wry thriller that marks an ambitious debut from a promising young writer.
supernatural subjects, bureaucratic bull, and a missing memory
Things I liked about The Rook:
- This book is hilarious. The story is told with a serious narrative, but there is so much that is tongue-in-cheek. It’s filled to the brim with dry humor, so if you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy it immensely. I would say that its humor is similar to that of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- It’s completely convincing. O’Malley wrote about this elaborately detailed supernatural secret service, and it’s entirely believable. From the mundane paperwork to the absurd missions. It’s chock-full of all the stupid (and amusing) government hoops that need to be jumped through for every event, and you realize that this is exactly how things would be if the X-men were real. They wouldn’t be jumping on planes at the drop of a hat for each mission, they’d have to all go through long-winded debriefings and heaps of paperwork prior to boarding.
- The format is quite fun. It’s told partly through letters from the original Myfanwy Thomas telling the new Myfanwy what her life was like, and partly through the happenings of the new Myfanwy. (The only downside to this was that in the audiobook, it was initially a little difficult to tell when the letter ended and the main narrative began).
Things that were meh:
- Sometimes the government details bogged the story down a bit. This may be more of an audiobook issue, because if I were reading, I would have been through all the details much more quickly.
- The plot itself, while fun, isn’t particularly mind-blowing. This may be a book that is more about the details, however, and less about the plot. The details were top-notch, after all!
I’d recommend this book to anyone who appreciates dry humor, fantasy/supernatural themes, and any fan of Buffy, Ghostbusters, X-Men, or other similar shows/movies.
Have you read The Rook or even heard of it? What are your thoughts? Do you think you want to pick it up?