Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

I remember when The Rook by Daniel O'Malley was published in 2012 it made the top books of the year lists for many people; for some reason I put this on my TBR pile for 4 years! This novel is fantastic, an action adventure that reminds me of a mashup between The Bourne Identity and Torchwood.

Set in modern day London, the story opens on a woman who wakes up in a park, drenched in the rain, surrounded by bodies wearing latex gloves. As the story progresses, she discovers that her name is Myfanwy Thomas; that she is one of the leaders of a mysterious organization known as the Checquy; and that she and other members of the Checquy possess superhuman abilities.  One of them is a being known as Gestalt, one personality inhabiting four different bodies (male and female). A senior member is a woman who communicates through dreams while another one is a 200 year old vampire (and vampires are very different in this world). Myfanwy goes on a quest to learn more about the Checquy and her past life while trying to find out who had her killed. There is some sense of the new Myfanwy being "reborn" into a new persona; the old Myfanwy was something of a tortured recluse, unable to use her powers to the fullest extent. The new Myfanwy is a bit more aggressive and adventurous.

This story is filled with very exciting action scenes, but also a lot of humor. Some chapters felt like an episode of Doctor Who, and I read on O'Malley's blog that indeed, The Rook will become a series for Hulu in the near future.  One very funny chapter was about a duck who could predict the future with accuracy, and even funnier, the duck does not talk but finds another way to communicate. Myfanwy herself is quite hysterical, sometimes stumbling through the upper crust of the Checquy and learning how to cope.

I read both the Kindle edition and did the whispersync deal with the audiobook narrated by Susan Duerden, who did a wonderful job and sounds exactly like Myfanwy should.

One of the great things about The Rook is the all the little bits of background history mentioned throughout. The Checquy has been around for centuries helping to ward off supernatural attacks, even spearheading a branch in the United States. O'Malley clearly has a rich mythology set up in this world and this will make ripe material for a TV series. The sequel Stiletto: A Novel (The Rook Files) will be published in June 2016.  Nuff Said.

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