What is this book about?
Myfawney Thomas wakes up in a London park surrounded by bodies wearing latex gloves and with no recollection of who she is and how she got there. She finds a letter in her coat pocket that starts with the words: ‘The body you are wearing used to be mine…’ And so begins a wild adventure of a woman with amnesia following the instructions left to her by her past self to help reclaim her identity and investigate just who is out to get her.
Turns out she is a Rook; a high-ranking member of the secret organization called the Chequy that battles supernatural phenomena in Great Britain, and she has a couple of magic tricks up her own sleeve. But someone in the Chequy is out to get her and she needs to figure out who and why before it’s too late, all without letting on to everyone around her that she is a stranger in her own body and to the life she’s leading.
What follows is an action-packed, unique detective story that has you growing to love both the Myfawney from the past as well as the new Myfawney being created as the adventure unfolds. Definitely a fun, fresh take on the whole ‘amnesia’ premise in a colorful, fantastical setting with a host of crazy characters to enjoy. A promising debut that’s definitely got me excited for more!
Why is it boring?
Urban fantasy set in London? A secret government agency dedicated to combating supernatural phenomena breaking out over the nation before it reaches the general public? Hardly the most original ideas, I’ll be the first to admit. Often when you think urban fantasy, you imagine a secret magical world hidden beneath the layers of your own, and in that sense, this book is nothing remarkable. Given that, The Rook is less focused on the world itself than the characters in it. The world-building, while hardly complex, was handled brilliantly in the form of factual snippets left from pre-amnesia Myfawney to the post-amnesia Myfawney in her letters. This avoided awkward information chunks shoe-horned into the plot in such a way that disrupted the flow, but rather made the reader empathize more with the protagonist in how bewilderingly out-of-their-depth they are. This is a novel for characters, action, and intrigue-lovers, so if you want Harry Potter level magical world-building, look elsewhere.
Who would you recommend it to?
Are you a fan of urban fantasy, because this is as urban and fantastical as it gets. O’Malley executed the amnesia aspect ingeniously; the difference between the timid and diffident pre-amnesia Myfawney contrasted with the bold and self-sure Myfawney after her ‘attack’ is noticeable but not unbelievable. I loved watching Myfawney grow into herself and manoeuvre into her new life with all her close calls and smart thinking. Both Myfawney’s were two sides of the same coin, but I loved them each individually, and it felt like following two separate characters on a journey together.
Why should I read it if it’s boring?!
If you need any convincing that it’s not boring, then the fact that Lionsgate is currently developing a one hour series based on The Rook should be all the reason you need. This book, despite being the debut of a new author, blew up reviews so grand I just had to see what all the fuss was about myself. O’Malley definitely has the ability to create enjoyable and brilliant characters that the readers are bound to love, and the sharp witticisms are for any audience. The sequel (Stiletto) just came out as well, so now is as great a time as ever to dig in!
Review written by Tharuka Fernando.