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Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley
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Stiletto (2016)

by Daniel O'Malley

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I liked this book as much as the first in the series. Very fun read with engaging characters and situations and I will absolutely read the next in the series, if there is one. Please let there be a next in the series. Daniel O'Malley writes great women and such fun situations. I definitely recommend this series. Fun! ( )
  amcheri | Feb 17, 2017 |
Another enjoyable read from Daniel O'Malley. Learning more about the Grafters as they do (or perhaps do not) attempt a peaceful merger with the Chequy. I found the conclusion a most accurate representation of the idea of "pawns" that the author has built into this fantasy world. ( )
  infjsarah | Feb 5, 2017 |
Again a great book. I was a bit disappointed that Myfanwy didn't play a larger role in this book, but then I got engrossed and I didn't mind so much anymore. I liked the little sideline of the serial killer, and of course I also liked the intricacies of the main story line, but I did feel that it was drawn out a bit. Some scenes felt repetitive. Again some weird-looking flesh cube or flesh whatever, again some social mishap. I didn't mind too much, though, because it was an enjoyable read with some great humor. Also some great female roles. The majority actually, now that I think about it. Great! ( )
  zjakkelien | Jan 2, 2017 |
When I saw that Daniel O'Malley had released a sequel to "The Rook", I immediately downloaded it and moved it to the top of my TBR.

The first in the series introduced us to the secret government organization tasked with protecting the general population from things of which they are completely ignorant. Kind of like "Men in Black". With a kick-ass woman as the lead, I devoured the more-than-600-page book in just a few days.

This one was no different. Again led by strong women, this is a must-read for every fan of science fiction, fantasy, and feminism. It is a roller coaster of a story, well-written, and cleverly full of twists and turns.

Some highlights:
•I am absolutely appalled to have you here, but I am also extremely well mannered and so I shall conceal that fact from you.
•"But I hate her," protested Odette. "Oh, I'm sure you think you do," said Marcel cheerfully, "but you're still young. It takes decades to really hate someone."
•The color could perhaps have been descried as sky blue, but it was the blue of a sky that would drive even the cheeriest and most tuneful of novice nuns to slash her wrists. It was a blue that had given up.
See? Wicked good! Highly recommended. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Nov 23, 2016 |
Six-word review: Supernatural adversaries struggle to make peace.

Extended review:

As I recall Stiletto a perilous six weeks after finishing it, it's mostly not a story.

It's mostly a showcase of O'Malley's seemingly limitless capacity for seemingly offhand invention--bizarre and formidable special powers just mentioned in passing: for example, one person can summon and command wasps, and another disrupts mathematics (page 489), and one little boy has the humble ability to increase the nutritional value of root vegetables (page 135).

It's also a catalogue of supernatural effects--such as a house whose second floor, if you go there, can ruin your credit rating; or the invasion of someone's dreams, or seeing the entire history of an object, or being able to remote-control someone else's actions. There's a dress that purrs.

One has the impression that the author must tote around a capacious notebook and be constantly scribbling additions to lists. I'll bet it's hard to carry on an ordinary conversation with him.

More: The author delves into medical details as vividly as Cutting for Stone. He lavishes attention on wardrobes and attire. He goes to some lengths to depict the level of discomfort that some people experience with social events.

These may be effective in themselves, but there does not appear to be much of a purpose to all this in terms of either character or plot. Instead it feels a lot like authorial self-indulgence.

Many character interactions are simply disappointing. Myfanwy, whom we followed here from The Rook, stays mostly in the background. The interesting Shantay makes only a cameo appearance. There's plenty about Felicity and Odette, but we don't really see a transforming moment and, such as it is, it is not experienced reciprocally--more as a fait accompli.

The author's habit of varying interchangeable names (for example, first and last names, or names and titles) is sometimes confusing. We may not realize at once that he's talking about the same character, especially when it's been a while since the character's last appearance; for instance, I kept forgetting who Marcel was--he was never really distinct to me.

The reader's knowledge of the story's background is taken for granted. We are not given many reminders to help us recall such characters and entities as Gestalt and Bishop Aldrich. I read The Rook in June of 2013, and three years later I don't remember anything about some people being traitors and moles, but that was important in this story.

In fact, I don't remember much plot at all.

What I mostly remember about The Rook is being taken someplace that was active, surprising, and fraught with danger. In contrast, what I mostly remember about Stiletto is special effects. And clumsy infodumps.

As for making peace with historical enemies, I guess that's in there somewhere.

I probably won't be in such a rush to get hold of a third installment, if there is one. Showmanship is great, but there has to be some substance too, or what is there to hold us? Nonetheless, this book ends with an obvious hook for a sequel while leaving no clue where a suitable adversary might come from. I hope it doesn't devolve into an action comic with superheroes saving the world from one megalomaniac villain after another while engaging in petty rivalries among themselves.

As before, there are some good lines, some arresting images, and some grammatical lapses and misuses of words that someone ought to have looked up. One glaring fault with The Rook that does not obtrude quite so much here is the amateurish use and overuse of dialogue tags. On one page of Stiletto (368), people say things thoughtfully, tartly, sniffily, hesitantly, and flatly. Oddly, there appeared to be some pretty clean editing up to page 496, and then suddenly the editing seemed to go light, as if a looming deadline had reduced attention to such constructions as "A call of 'Come!' came..." and "came the whispered reply."

In the end, I didn't dislike the book; I just felt let down by it. Perhaps that's just the price of anticipation. ( )
1 vote Meredy | Oct 25, 2016 |
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Epigraph
If you had taught her, from the dawn of her intelligence, with your utmost energy and might, that there was such a thing as daylight, but that it was made to be her enemy and destroyer, and she must always turn against it, for it had blighted you and would else blight her; - if you had done this, and if then, for a purpose, had wanted her to take naturally to the daylight and she could not do it, you would have been disappointed and angry?
-Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Optometry is the discipline of vision. What its boundaries will be depends upon what the word vision means to the profession.
-A. M. Skeffington, May 1974
Dedication
For Mollie Glick and for Asya Muchnick

with tremendous thanks
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The woman was crouched in an alley, her back against the wall and her hands pressed awkwardly to the bricks behind her.
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"In this spirited sequel to the acclaimed The Rook, Myfanwy Thomas returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic -- and slimy -- supernatural war. When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers--and the bureaucratic finesse--to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries: The Checquy--the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and ... The Grafters--a centuries-old supernatural threat. But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war. Stiletto is a novel of preternatural diplomacy, paranoia, and snide remarks, from an author who "adroitly straddles the thin line between fantasy, thriller, and spoof " (Booklist)"--… (more)

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