Wednesday, August 2, 2017

[Review] The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley 
Series: The Checquy Files #1
Rating: 4 stars

Published: October 16th 2012

Goodreads Synopsis:
Myfanwy Thomas awakes in a London park surrounded by dead bodies. With her memory gone, her only hope of survival is to trust the instructions left in her pocket by her former self. She quickly learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. But there is a mole inside the organization and this person wants her dead.
As Myfanwy battles to save herself, she encounters a person with four bodies, a woman who can enter her dreams, children transformed into deadly fighters, and an unimaginably vast conspiracy. Suspenseful and hilarious, THE ROOK is an outrageously inventive debut for readers who like their espionage with a dollop of purple slime.
What I noticed recently becoming a big thing in books (at least, the books I'm reading), is the presence of people with supernatural/otherwordly powers co-existing with people who don't have such abilities. Or maybe co-existing is too light a term.

Therein lies problems - overly done cliches, special snowflakes, and unnecessary romances.

But luckily for me, The Rook bypassed these and fulfilled all my fantasy expectations.
Myfanwy Thomas (her first name rhymes with Tiffany) is by no means a special snowflake. Quite the opposite, although her powers would suggest otherwise. She loses her memories and becomes an entirely new person, and is instructed on what to do through the letters of her former self. She's part of the Checquy, an organization that deals with the supernatural. To top it all off, she's actually got a position in this organization as the Rook, and someone's out to kill her.

Where old Myfanwy was timid and shy, reluctant to use her powers, new Myfanwy is speaks her mind and discovers things about her powers her that no one, not even her former self, knew. She's also quite funny and had me laughing for ages.

"I just received notification that the Americans are coming!"
"All of them?" asked Myfanwy.
"You know, it's not wise to be sarcastic with your executive assistant," remarked Ingrid tightly. 

"...All I have to do is put on my scary face."
"You have a scary face?" Ingrid sounded skeptical.
"Yes," said Myfanwy indignantly. "I have a very scary face."
Ingrid surveyed her for a moment.
"You may wish to take off the cardigan then, Rook Thomas," she advised tactfully. "The flowers on the pockets detract somewhat from your menace." 

The book in general is just hilarious. It didn't take itself seriously in the sense that all serious moments were filled with levity. The Rook kind of reminded me of Deadpool. British Deadpool.

Plus, there was no romance and instead there was just really great female friendship. And lots of asskicking.

And unique powers! Rook Gestalt, with all his bodies and one mind, never would have thought of that.

Only negatives: I mentioned that the only way Myfanwy figured out what to do was through her past self's letters, which were a huge infodump. Lots of information about our cast of characters, their histories, and everything in between with humor sprinkled in, but still a huge infodump.
Also a minor nitpick - Myfanwy picks up on the situation really quickly and I'm just wondering how an amnesiac could do so. Although I feel like she may have just inherited her former self's abilities, but in a different way.

Anyhow, this was an epic book and I recommend it to everyone who needs a break from cliched supernatural people fantasies. And, I'm reading the sequel, Stiletto, in a few weeks time.

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