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The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

The Rook (2012)

by Daniel O'Malley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Checquy Files (1)

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English (79)  German (1)  All languages (80)
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
What a read! A supernatural law enforcement agency in England? Why of course! This is an imaginative & fun read. Action packed & very clever. How can you not love a book whose 1st sentence is "Dear You, The body you're wearing used to be mine." ( )
  michele.juza | Feb 25, 2015 |
A woman wakes up in a garden, surrounded by several men in latex gloves, and with no memory of who she is or how she got there. Fortunately, Myfanwy (rhymes with "Tiffany") Thomas left her future self some notes: she is a Rook of the Checquy, a secret society who takes care of supernatural threats to Britain. The only trouble is that someone in the court is out to kill her. Can she find the traitor in time?

I almost don't want to say anything more about the book, because seeing how everything develops is more than half the fun. I found it hilarious, page-turning fun and loved the inventive premise of a whole new personality just dumped into a woman and trying to figure out how to use her supernatural powers and deal with a life already there while trying not to let anyone know she was different. I also liked the former Myfanwy, and the way her letters and meticulous notes allowed the present Myfanwy and reader to learn more details (contrived, yes, but in a good way). On the one hand, I can't believe I missed this book when it was new, but on the other it was perfect timing to read this now when the sequel comes out in a few months. This may be a fun recommendation for fans of zany mashups like Thursday Next. ( )
1 vote bell7 | Jan 9, 2015 |
Silly me left this book up North at my parents over the holidays so quite the while to finish it.

What a great book, easily my favorite so far this year. No spoilers in this review...let's just say that from front to back I was surprised which rarely happens to me any more with a book. I laughed aloud at times at turns of phrase, and found not only the main two characters compelling but the vast majority of the secondary ones as well.

I'm deliberately not talking plot points so you can enjoy the revelations. Pick it up and dive down the rabbit hole.

( )
  FlatEarther | Jan 3, 2015 |
Supernatural London is getting to be a crowded place, so it's no small endeavour to launch another ship to sail those waters. Thankfully O'Malley has come up with a resourceful heroine, loveable allies, a suitably iconic supernatural agency to keep tabs on all the unmentionables, and a big sense of humour. Having grown up in Holland, I may have found the fact the villains were Belgian a smidgeon funnier even than intended.

I do think it showed itself as a first novel in a few places, along with a few glaring Americanisms that popped me out of the world, so I can only expect to enjoy future instalments more as O'Malley gets more practised.

However, this is nitpicking. By and large, this was a rollicking joyride of daft proportions, with colourful characters and a pleasant absence of paranormal romance (although there were heavy hints that this will almost certainly be in store for Myfanwy in future instalments). It doesn't take itself too seriously, which largely helps the suspension of disbelief (the episode with the prophetic duck was a joy), and it is randomly peppered with what appear to be offhand allusions to other supernatural fictions that it has cheerfully adopted as part of the universe (I spotted Midwich and Narnia; I'm fairly sure I was meant to pick up a couple more). And I loved that it is almost entirely gender-neutral. ( )
1 vote imyril | Oct 7, 2014 |
Despite the high ratings on both goodreads and amazon, I found myself severely disliking this book.

The premise is not extraordinarily innovative or different, but does leave a lot of potential for the author to work with. The system and the world building was done fairly well - I did like the idea of the chess pieces and behind the scenes corporation.

Unfortunately I hated the protagonist as well as the format of the book. Myfanwy (my gosh what a ridiculous name) finds herself in the possession of a position in a secret organization and an extremely powerful ability after amnesia of her former personality. I found her "new" personality grating and more than childish rather than kick-ass, as I'm sure the author intended.

She blunders through situations without any finesse in hiding her amnesia. The reaction of other characters to her new personality is not believable except to portray Myfanwy as far superior to her old self. She's glib and puerile and sounds more like a bratty teenager than a rook in this world.

The format of the book is also annoying in that it exposes the world and background of characters through a file her old personality scribbled down to help her out. While not obtrusive at first, it quickly turns from solid information to a barrage of old memories from the old personality.

I couldn't even bear to finish the book. Got through more than halfway and then had to fling the book across the room in annoyance of wasting my time. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
I became intrigued by Daniel O’Malley’s debut novel, The Rook, when Time book critic Lev Grossman raved, more than a month before the book’s release, that “this aging, jaded, attention-deficit-disordered critic was blown away.”

Indeed, The Rook is great, rattling fun, as if Neil Gaiman took Buffy the Vampire Slayer and crossed it with Torchwood.

It starts with a bang: Myfanwy Thomas awakens in a rainy London park, surrounded by a ring of dead bodies, all wearing latex gloves. She has no idea how she or the corpses got there. In fact, she doesn’t even know that she’s Myfanwy Thomas, because she is suffering from amnesia and remembers nothing about herself.

Myfanwy is a Rook, a junior-level member of the Court, an elite group of eight super-powered intelligence agents. The Court runs the Checquy Group, a British agency on Her Majesty’s Hyper-Secret Service, so powerful that it makes MI6 look lame. In fact, Myfanwy learns, “The Court answers to the highest individuals in the land only, and not always to them.”

Myfanwy discovers everything about herself from a dossier entrusted to her by “the original Myfanwy Thomas,” the person she was before she lost her memory. Her amnesia was no accident: One of her mysterious colleagues on the Court, she learns, is a traitor who wiped her memory and now wants her dead.

In the meantime, Myfanwy must step back into her own life and relearn everything about being Rook Thomas, all without anyone finding out what has happened to her. Her own life is anything but normal, because the Checquy Group is always on the lookout for monsters. One can never be too vigilant, since “Checquy statistics indicate that 15 percent of all men in hats are concealing horns.”

Thanks to the Checquy, Britons are blissfully unaware that supernatural forces constantly threaten the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. (The Checquy’s American counterpart is called the Croatoan, a little in-joke that is never explained but which students of American history will immediately get.) The worst of these threats to the U.K. are the Grafters, who come from Belgium, a mild-mannered nation that O’Malley manages to render extremely sinister.

Throughout a rip-roaring narrative, O’Malley off-handedly weaves deadpan humor. As a Rook, Myfanwy is more paper-pusher than field agent, and her job lacks glamour: “There’s a reason that there’s no TV show called CSI: Forensic Accounting.” She always gets stuck with tasks like “figuring out why the hell a two-door wardrobe in the spare room of a country house is considered to be a matter of national concern.”

But crises loom, duty calls, and Myfanwy soon finds herself using her own superpower to battle horrid Belgian monsters — at least whenever she isn’t “laboriously penning formal invitations to the members of the Court to come dine at the Rookery tonight before observing the unbelievably magical amazingness of the United Kingdom’s only oracular duck.

“Of course, I couched it all in slightly more impressive terms.”

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daniel O'Malleyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Duerden, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Het lichaam dat je draagt was ooit van mij.
For my father, Bill O'Malley, who read to me at bedtime,
and my mother, Jeanne O'Malley, who read to me the rest of the time.
First words
Dear You,
The body you are wearing used to be mine.
She stood shivering in the rain, watching the words on the letter dissolve under the downpour.
According to Thomas, the city had once been a veritable hotbed of manifestations, with every sorcerer, bunyip, golem, goblin, pict, pixie, demon, thylacine, gorgon, moron, cult, scum, mummy, rummy, groke, sphinx, minx, muse, flagellant, diva, reaver, weaver, reaper, scabbarder, scabmettler, dwarf, midget, little person, leprechaun, marshwiggle, totem, soothsayer, truthsayer, hatter, hattifattener, imp, panwere, mothman, shaman, flukeman, warlock, morlock, poltergeist, zeitgeist, elemental, banshee, manshee, lycanthrope, lichenthrope, sprite, wighte, aufwader, harpy, silkie, kelpie, klepto, specter, mutant, cyborg, blrog, troll ogre, cat in shoes, dog in a hat, psychic, and psychotic seemingly having decided that THIS was the hot spot to visit.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
"Dear You:
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 dead bodies — all wearing latex gloves. With no memory of who she is or how she got there, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and escape those who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in the Checquy, a secret government agency that protects the world against supernatural threats — from sentient fungus to stampeding ectoplasm — while keeping the populace in the dark. But now there is a mole on the inside, and this person wants Myfanwy dead.

In her quest to save herself and unmask the traitor, Myfanwy will encounter 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 could ever have imagined. And she must learn to harness her own rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability.

Suspenseful and hilarious — "Harry Potter meets Ghostbusters meets War of the WorldsThe Rook is an outrageously inventive debut novel for readers who like their espionage with a dollop of purple slime, or their supernatural thrillers with an agenda and a pencil skirt.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316098795, Hardcover)

"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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:32 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A high-ranking member of a secret organization that battles supernatural forces wakes up in a London park with no memory, no idea who she is, and with a letter that provides instructions to help her uncover a far-reaching conspiracy.

» see all 3 descriptions

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