Book review: The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
Book reviews

The Rook – Daniel O’Malley

Release date: 11 January 2012
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★ – 10/10
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The Rook (Checquy Files #1) blurb:

“Dear you, the body you are wearing used to be mine”
A woman awakens in a London park, dripping wet and surrounded by corpses wearing latex gloves.  In her pocket is a letter from her previous self: Rook Thomas, a superpowered operative in Britain’s most secret of secret agencies.
And then someone tries to kill her.  Again.

I remember the trip to the book store where I was recommended this book.  I lived in Canberra at the time (the capital of Australia – no, it’s not Sydney) and the staff at the store said that the author was local.  My first reaction was “… seriously??  There’s a review on the back of this from THE Charlaine Harris that says ‘I love this book'”.  They also told me that it was his first novel and it was amazing.  They had never steered me wrong with a recommendation so I had to read it.

I LOVE THIS BOOK.  Charlaine Harris could not have said it any better.  This book is part mystery, part science fiction, part paranormal, part crime, part fantasy, part thriller – all amazing.

As you can see in the blurb, the protagonist of the story – Myfanwy (it’s Welsh) Thomas wakes up in a park in London, dripping wet and surrounded by corpses.  Automatically you’re thinking WHAAAAAT???  But that’s not where the book starts.  Myfanwy has no memories at all – possibly amnesia, but you discover that this has been not only prophesied, but caused deliberately.  And so the story starts with a letter from the previous Myfanwy to the current inhabitor of her former body.

… You are probably aware of this next part already, since if you are reading this then you have survived several immediate threats, but you are in danger.  Just because you are not me does not make you safe.  Along with this body, you have inherited certain problems and responsibilities.  Go find a safe place, and then open the second letter.
Sincerely, Me

This book is a clever mix of all the genres listed above and includes suspense and action-filled chapters, as well as delivering what (I think) all paranormal fans really want: MI5 for mutants.

The characters are a mix if dastardly, benevolent and sweet – but above all, intelligent.  They either assist or hinder as Myfanwy (the new one) tries to figure out who did this to her in the first instance, but also why.  These are the two things her predecessor could not prepare her for in the over-abundance of information amassed for such this occurrence.  My favourites of the others are Ingrid, Shantay, Alrich, Eckhart, and I’m disturbingly intrigued by Gestalt (even though it/they creeps me out).

The story has a good pace and is well written.  This is of particular note as interspersed within the main plot and storyline are selected letters with character files and explanations that help to fill in the gaps in an interesting and relevant way.  It is actually a very clever way of helping the reader to understand what is happening without a large chunk of the introduction spent back story.

Overall, this book is great.  It left me wanting more – and when the sequel (Stiletto) came out in June 2016 I devoured it immediately.