“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.
Daniel O’Malley is Australian, you guys and call me biased but I had high expectations of this book. The premise is so fantastic that I was completely sold on the book before I turned a page (or okay, clicked a page, hur). I admit though that I went into the book thinking that it was YA (I don’t know why) but I was totally fine with it not being one. Now, let us harken back to where I said I had high expectations. I did. And they were met to a large extent.
Mr. O’Malley has a very engaging turn of phrase and his story has an admirable flow to it. The characters are well created and there is no one dimensional stuff going on. I did think the book was well constructed and was quite entertained by it as I’m sure the rating reflects (4 stars). However. Yes, there is a however and I must speak out about the however right now.
O’Malley often utilizes (way too many times, in my opinion) this technique that almost made me stop reading the book. Imagine if you will, you are hurtling down a rollercoaster, the ride of your life and you are JUST about to jump off the steep incline and someone stops your ride RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT and tells you to listen to a soporific commercial that may have some redeeming value but not at that moment. And that, my darlings is what O’Malley does. He places his character in a tense situation (often involving life and death) and then inserts one of his information dumping (more on this later) letters on the next page. Which means that I most skipped these letters in favor of finding out what happened to the character. This? Is not a good technique. What this does to the narrative is make it cluttered and makes for a jarring reading experience. It also messes the pace of the novel, think of it as something like someone pulling the emergency lever on a train and it screeches to an unwilling stop. THAT’s how I felt, you guys.
And then the information dumping. Okay, I understand that the letters are necessary but there HAD to be a better way to get all that information out. My head ached, my eyes went blurry and I began to dread the italicized font that augured the advent of these information dumps, I mean, letters. The information was interesting and yes, necessary but there was way too much of it. I would have much rather received the information in flashbacks than letters.
And then the end seemed way too neat. The villain of the piece gives in way too easily and I don’t know, I was just disappointed that the lead up went flat in the climax. I think O’Malley should have spent a lot more time developing his black character than he did. Really.
Okay, now that I have gotten that off my chest, I want to say that despite it all, despite all my quibbles with this book, I still found it intriguing. I thought it was very readable and the world building was admirable. I wish this was a series. Do I recommend this to you? Oh definitely. I think you should read it and then recommend it to other people too. :)