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The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
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The Rook (2012)

by Daniel O'Malley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Checquy Files (1)

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English (69)  German (1)  All languages (70)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
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 |
Immediately you'd have to wonder what on earth this reader would be doing even attempting a book like THE ROOK - an urban fantasy thriller. With paranormal aspects, and spies, and something about world domination.

Although it starts out with a young woman waking in a London park with no memory, surrounded by dead bodies, wearing, what is allegedly, somebody elses body. Okay, so I thought crime fiction for the first couple of minutes, and then got a bit of a sinking feeling with the whole body thing, although a bit of a sense of humour from the outset certainly helped the swallowing of the rest of it.

It is probably the cup of tea and biscuit for fans of urban fantasy, albeit with what is possibly a slightly tongue in cheek feeling. For the rest of us - that biscuit is going to need more than dunking in a cup of tea to make it palatable.

Whilst there are points that THE ROOK set up a cracking pace, there are also places that seem to lag, possibly because the joke isn't as strong as it could be, or because of that personal need for a lot of hardy chewing.

To be fair though, there's a good balance of character and plot here what with secret British organisations, strange sorts of super-powers, and ... well that whole other body thing, although there are some aspects of the superness of Myfanwy that felt a bit ... boy's own adventure maybe.

But, given that THE ROOK wasn't ever going to be my cup of tea, and no matter how many biscuits I chewed my way through, it's taken an absolute age to finish the book which probably isn't necessarily a reflection on it - definitely different books for different readers.

It would, however, probably be right up the alley of somebody who likes this sort of Urban Fantasy adventure, unlikely, completely off with the demons, scenario especially when it comes with a big serving of tongue in cheek humour.

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-rook-daniel-omalley ( )
  austcrimefiction | Mar 31, 2014 |
Every once in a while you come across a book that just utterly delights you from the beginning to the end. The Rook did this for me. And within its pages, I met a character that quickly became one of my favorites to read about, miss Myfanwy Thomas.

The story begins when she wakes up in a park with two black eyes and surrounded by dead people wearing gloves (really grabbed my dark little heart with that one!) and no memory of who she is or how she got to where she is at. She begins to learn of herself through a series of letters written by her former self before the incident in the park which took her memory away. She is Rook Myfanwy Thomas, operative in the Checquy, a basically black ops organization fighting or enlisting supernatural creatures and phenomenon for the British government.

Myfanwy is one of the most unique unwilling heroines I have seen depicted. She is a rich and multi-layered combination of very standard female that loves nice things, looking pretty and a strong helping of plain girl complex coupled with a razor sharp analytical intelligence and the ability to control another person's body.

The new Myfanwy learns the history and knowledge to survive in this world through the letters her former self left her. Each letter begins with "Dear You!" and end with "Love Me" I was utterly charmed with this aspect of the book and it so endeared me to the character and I could see her sitting at her desk transcribing all these letters to her later self. And through all the interchanges, the escapades, the encounters, the learning, Myfanwy never becomes the typical government operative personage. She is constantly surprised, curious, righteously pissed and amazed at the world she has woken up in. It is very easy to put yourself in her place and seeing her react just the way you think you would.

This was a book that I listened to on audiobook. My long commute makes this a nice way to wile away the time from point A to point B. Plus, there is the added amusement of watching the neighboring cars give you strange looks as you burst out laughing insanely at some titillating passage, and there was an abundance of those in this book. The reader, Susan Duerden, did a superb job of the reading, creating unique voices for each character and making you feel like you were right in the room where it was all happening.

I give this book 5 Stars only because that seems to be the most you can give. My only grievance is that it seems Mr. O'Malley hasn't finished the sequel! Put it on your to read list, move it up to the next on the list. You won't be sorry! ( )
1 vote sephibitchwitch | Mar 15, 2014 |
What a delightful surprise! The blurb gave me the impression that The Rook was going to have a dark, gritty tone, but it's actually laugh-out-loud hilarious. Even though I guessed the culprit early on, I loved watching Myfanwy put the clues together. The old Myfanwy's letters to her new self really made her feel like a person to me, which made the loss of her identity acutely painful to read; it was like watching a favorite character die. But despite my sympathy for the old Myfanwy, I quickly came to love how the new Myfanwy makes a place for herself and establishes her own, distinct personality. It's extremely funny and satisfying to watch her shatter other people’s expectations by being everything the old Myfanwy was not - a bold, brash leader who isn't afraid to use her abilities to their full extent.

On the downside, the plot line centering on Myfanwy’s long, lost sister felt kind of random and unnecessary to me (and led to a TSTL moment for our otherwise savvy heroine). It also seemed that some things came too easily to Myfanwy such as her insta-friendship with Shantay and the relative ease with which she navigated the office politics and supernatural dangers of her new job. Still, these flaws didn't significantly detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Finally, I can't end this review without mentioning the wonderfully creative, complex worldbuilding. If you're looking for an urban fantasy with a well-thought-out and unique premise, then I highly recommend this novel. In short, The Rook is an incredibly fun, entertaining read. I didn't expect it to be so funny, which caught me by surprise in the best possible way. I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel! ( )
2 vote les121 | Feb 16, 2014 |
All the reviews I've read have tried to make comparisons to various famous examples of speculative fiction to explain the unique appeal of this book. It's Harry Potter meets Ghostbusters! It's Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossed with James Bond as told by Douglas Adams! We've gone Down the Rabbit Hole, but everybody is holding a script from a Die Hard movie.

I was reminded of many, many other stories. The description of the Ministry of Magic in [b:Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix|2|Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)|J.K. Rowling|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361039183s/2.jpg|2809203]. The way UNIT works in the Dr. Who universe. The more-than-human warriors in [b:Skulduggery Pleasant|284440|Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, #1)|Derek Landy|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1334279051s/284440.jpg|909082]. The wistful yearning of extraordinary supernatural beings to protect the silly, bumbling, beautiful, ordinary world in practically every book by Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman (so I'll just mention [b:Good Omens|12067|Good Omens|Terry Pratchett|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327875267s/12067.jpg|4110990].) And many, many more.

There's a a great review on the Goatfairy Review Blog comparing the book to a "genre-bending supernatural spy thriller smoothie," a description I cannot better, so I shall not try.

This was lots of fun. I'm looking forward to more from O'Malley. ( )
  Turrean | Feb 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (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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Epigraph
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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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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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