Review - THE ROOK, Daniel O'Malley

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The Rook
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Book Synopsis

"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.

Book Review

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.

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