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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)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,081897,716 (4.13)126
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» See also 126 mentions

English (88)  German (1)  All languages (89)
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
Egalley thanks to Little, brown & Co
What a clever, clever book! Without any doubts it's going to be one of the most memorable reads of this year for me the likes of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Night Circus.

In short, if you like Men in Black and Hellboy, this is British version of it, and a delightful at that, with self-deprecating humour and snarky personal assistants.

Myfanwy Thomas (pronounced like Tiffany with M) loses all her memories in a botched attempt of assassination. She is a high-ranking member of The Chequy, a super secret organisation which has been controlling and suppressing supernatural occurrences in Britain for centuries. Myfanwy before the amnesia left her new self thorough letters and descriptions of her life because her loss of memories was prophesied, but now this new strange woman has to pick up the pieces and lead day to day domestic operations of Chequy, because the alternative is death. Nobody leaves Chequy alive, it's just not an option.

Oh, and she needs to find the traitor who tried to kill her. No biggie. Just a day of work in the office.

What I found fascinating were the different characters belonging to The Chequy. You see, they don't work much with sophisticated weaponry, it's more like their bodies are the weapons. Myfanwy for example can manipulate biological responses of any body close to her, her counterpart, Gestalt has one powerful brain shared between four bodies who can work simultaneously in different parts of the world, another member of the organisation can walk through dreams of random people, and yet another has an affinity to metal...

...and it gets even more fascinating when you start reading about the big threat to The Chequy - The Grafters, who work with genetic modifications.

The old Myfanwy is an essential pencil pusher, a bureaucrat and a damn good administrator, but new Myfanwy has to take on a much more active role in the field, and it's so much fun, peeps! None of the other characters are there to be just props, they are alive, very interesting and have fascinating personalities.

I really want to spill all the beans here, but I don't want to spoil all your fun, so just READ IT. Highly recommended, hilarious and extremely clever. ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
Excellent recording, but the story itself needed some work. I had a really hard time getting into the book, which is why I switched to the audio version. It started off strong and exciting but then was really really slow--lots of backstory explanation that I found tedious. Once we got back to the present day of the main character she was just going to meetings all the time and deliberating over what to have for lunch or dinner. I found it to be too detailed and thus too slow paced. The middle of the books was better as more mysterious things started happening, but then the end was fairly disappointing. When the big reveal came about who the traitor was, I couldn't even remember who that character was. From there is was just a lot more unrealistic conversation between two enemies explaining to each other what they had done. Then there was a bit of a twist at the end but that just resulted in more unrealistic conversation and a ho-hum ending. Even though the set up was really interesting and it had a nice sense of humor throughout, I was just glad to be finally done with it. ( )
  nicole_a_davis | Nov 14, 2015 |
This is the first book in the Checquy Files series by O’Malley. The second book in this series, Stiletto, is supposed to release in Jan 2016. I enjoyed this book; is was a fun blend of secret government conspiracy and urban fantasy.

I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook is very well done. The narrator did an excellent job of giving all of the characters unique voices and portraying emotion and urgency in the narration.

Myfanwy Thomas’s first recollection is standing in the rain with a bunch of dead men in a circle around her and all the men are wearing latex gloves. Then she finds the note in her pocket which starts out “The body you are wearing used to be mine.” Myfanwy is in a body and has no memory of how she got there. The letter she finds gives her two choices: go to a safe deposit box, take the money there and run...or assume the life of Myfanwy Thomas as it was before her memory loss. After killing a bunch of people with a wave of her hand Myfanwy decides to try to find out more about her abilities and assumes Myfanwy’s old life.

Shortly after making that choice Myfanwy finds out that she holds the position of Rook (a position of top authority) in a secret government agency known as the Checquy. The Checquy polices supernatural and paranormal creatures throughout England protecting the population from things better left unknown.

As Myfanwy stumbles her way through daily duties (and enjoys her ultimate power) she is struggling to answer the top question in her mind; who tried to kill the original Myfanwy Thomas? Then when a group called the Grafters (who have long opposed the Checquy) start to threaten both life as humanity knows it and the Royal Court of the Checquy Myfanwy has to turn her attention to why the Grafters are after them and who in the Court of the Checquy is linked to the Grafters.

There are a lot of politics, administration, espionage, mystery solving and general craziness in this book as Myfanwy tries to unravel this web of deceit and lies. I love Myfanwy’s no nonsense attitude to everything; she takes the strangest of circumstances in stride and does an excellent job of mitigating the damage. She is also a bit snarky and witty as well.

I loved all the crazy characters in the story and their rather bizarre powers. The book was a lot of fun to read and you just never knew what the next page was going to hold.

The story wraps up well, although there are some loose ends that will most likely be addressed in subsequent novels. This is a different sort of urban fantasy. Think of it as urban fantasy where battles are fought with superb administration abilities and crazy personal super powers.

Overall this was a fun and different type of urban fantasy read. I enjoyed the quirky characters and witty dialogue. I also enjoyed all the strange powers our characters have and the very different anatomies of the Grafters. Myfanwy Thomas is a very unique sort of urban fantasy heroine and I found her to be refreshing and interesting to read about. I look forward to further adventures with Myfanwy and the Checquy. I recommend to those who enjoy mystery and urban fantasy stories. ( )
1 vote krau0098 | Aug 16, 2015 |
Myfanwy Thomas - the best kick-ass female character I've read in years!

Spies, sci-fi, mystery, transformation, self-discovery, humor and a delightful protagonist; The Rook has it all! I spent the weekend reading every second I could manage; Husband, family and chores completely ignored. ( )
  CC123 | Aug 10, 2015 |
I really liked this book and was disappointed that the next one wasn't coming out til next year. I like fantasy that is believable, not that it could happen in real life, but that it's not totally outrageous. This was what I thought to be an excellent fantasy book. It was well written. The fantasy part was like yeah ok. They kept it consistent throughout the whole book. It's about a woman's body Rook Thomas who gets her memory taken and someone else takes over her body. She works for The Chequey (sp). They are a group of people with special abilities. Someone within that group is a double agent and they need to figure out who. The special powers make it exciting. This was an enjoyable read but, not a light read. There is a lot of information to take in about all of the characters and the organization. Even if you think you don't like fantasy you might like this. ( )
1 vote bwhitner | Jun 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 88 (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.
Thus, while other members of the organization attain high positions through their remarkable accomplishments in the field, I became a member of the Court simply through my work in the bureaucracy.

Does that sound lame? I'm very, very good. There's not a formal timeline for ascending to the Court. In fact, most people never get in. I am the youngest person in the current Court. I got there after ten years of working in administration. The next-youngest got in after sixteen years of highly dangerous fieldwork. That's how good an administrator I am.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:17 -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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