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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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Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
O'Malley did a good job of going in a different direction with this book's storyline than what you see in most fantasy books. It's fun to read and had great world building. The characters are interesting if not over the top. The best part is watching the main character become the kind of person she wants to be rather than trying to stay the same person she used to be. I listened to this as an audiobook and I really liked the narrator. I'm excited to see what will happen in the next book, I just hope it's as good as this one. ( )
  ladonna37 | Sep 5, 2014 |
Engaging setup—a woman comes to consciousness standing in a circle of dead people. She has no idea who she is, or who they are, but there’s a letter in her pocket from her former self telling her that she’s a member of the Chequy, a secret organization of people with unusual powers such as her own ability to disrupt bodily functions by touch. Powerful female characters drive the narrative, which involves a threatened invasion by the Belgians and betrayal from within the organization. Charlie Stross fans may like the “supernatural British secret service” aspects of the plot, though there’s a lot less bureaucracy in this book even though our POV character—Myfanwy, pronounced to rhyme with Tiffany—is ostensibly a top administrator. Myfanwy has a lot of character and sass straight out of the box, which makes her different from the shy person she replaced; this isn’t a book about characters changing. The book often attempted fast swerves from horror/adventure into humor, Joss Whedon-style, especially in the dialogue; I mostly felt it was trying too hard, but there’s no doubt it’s clever. The lack of detail about red tape probably won’t bother anyone, but there was a similar vagueness to other things, such as Myfanwy’s wardrobe where a red dress is an important plot/character point but described only in broad adjectives. Engaging enough with its conspiracies and superpowered agents, but not exactly what I was after. ( )
  rivkat | Aug 31, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this book. It was a mystery, suspense, intrigue and a bit of horror all rolled into one. I believe this is a first book for this author and I look forward to more. ( )
  morandia | Aug 1, 2014 |
How much did I love this book? Let me count the ways:

1. A female protagonist who's strong, smart, funny, vulnerable, and scared, often in the same paragraph. This book passes the Bechdel test in spades. The fact that it was written by a guy is even more impressive.

2. Partly epistolary. Turns out that the "original" version of the protagonist, Myfanwy Thomas, has written letters to her future self because she knows that an evil enemy is going to destroy her memory soon. These letters are used to excellent effect. One of the things that makes this book great is how the letters show Myfanwy coming to terms with the fact that "she" is going to die. The last letter made me cry.

3. A thoroughly enjoyable setup. "Her Majesty's Supernatural Secret Service" reminded me of Torchwood a bit, but this organization was more what Torchwood would be like if Microsoft took it over--the petty politics, arcane policies, obstructionist agendas, etc. It was a hoot, if creepy in places.

4. A good story. This is a nice twist on the murder mystery--in the vein of the Bourne Identity, but done by the enemy instead of the organization, complete with infiltrators and turncoats. Anyone could be the Big Bad--dun, dun, DUN....

5. The first in a series! The author has sent the first draft of Book 2 to his editor (as of Jan 2013), so there's more Cecquy adventures to come.

I got this book from the library, but I think I'll buy it. I want to read it again. ( )
  Pat_F. | Jul 25, 2014 |
Clunky plot-dump start that led to a grand-slam finish. Loved it.

Could've done without all the curse-words though. ( )
1 vote Tom_Wright | Jun 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (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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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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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