The Rook, by David O’Malley, is the first book in a long time that really grabbed my attention. It was not quite a Harry Potter but it was close to a Hunger Games. The story is a nice hybrid of X-men and James Bond with a Tamora Pierce heroine at the helm. The book is all action and just the right amount of emotional analysis. Though it is a solid 486 pages it moves quickly and keeps you guessing.
“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.(Synopsis via Goodreads)
Myfanwy is the kind of heroine that is just awkward enough to endear herself to you while also being an accidental bad ass. She does and says all the things you wish you could say. She has the right comebacks ready, she is cunning and smart, and she is super entertaining. I really enjoyed her journey through the mystery, adventure and action in this book.
David O’Malley has a talent for the details. He conveniently found a way to unfold a deep and well rooted tale via letters from old Myfanwy to new Myfanwy. Also the premise of the book provides a need for old Myfanwy to intentionally create documents and dossiers specifically for new Myfanwy’s use.The whole book is well thought out. He writes histories for each character and finds ways to present first hand accounts of events historical and current that may be pertinent. Knowing all this history provides a deeper understanding to the reader as they follow Myfanwy and she rediscovers her own life.
The dialogue is witty and amusing. The events are interesting and unpredictable. This book is not formulaic and will take you on a ride.
The Rook was my pick for a book club I am a part of in month of April. It was the first book I have picked that a majority of our members also enjoyed. A surprising number of them actually finished! One of the girls did not like the info dumping but liked that they developed into history lessons. One of the girls brought up that many of Myfanwy’s actions are what a man would do. She is brutally honest, upfront and quick to take action, all qualities admired in men. While I personally admired all these qualities the girls brought up that these are not qualities widely admired in women, even today. It may be because the book is written by a man that Myfanwy acts like this at all. Even with all these valid points the entertainment value of this book was phenomenal.
Here are some of the questions I asked during our discussion of the book:
1. What fact was the most difficult for you the reader to buy into?
2. Given the author has introduced Ulrich the Vampire, do you believe this world may have other supernatural beings like vampires?
3. What was your favorite super power? What would you want your super power to be?
4. Which story or historical fact was your favorite?
5. What favor did Myfanwy do for Lady Ferrier?
6. What part of the book made you laugh the most?
7. (Prize question) What was the alias in the beginning of the book that old Myfanwy sets up for new Myfanwy?
Next Up: Loving Frank by Nancy Horan