“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.
This book came to my attention when another blogger was promoting it on twitter when it went on sale on Kindle. One of the things she mentioned was the opening, and man, is the praise the opening gets incredibly justified. How can you not be intrigued when the first line of the book opens with an intriguing letter like that? It would be easy for such a strong start to be followed by a disappointing tale, but fortunately, that is not what happens here. Instead, we get an intriguing mystery – who is the one that wiped Myfanwy’s memories – wrapped up inside a fascinating world. Think of the Chequy as the government-sanctioned, super-well funded and organized version of the X-Files. Cool, right?
Also cool is that O’Malley spent a lot of time thinking of interesting powers for people in this world to have. Psychics are all but dismissed out of hand (save for a duck of all things) and you don’t even really see other staples like telekinesis, which is refreshing. Perhaps my favorite is the creepy Gestalt. Gestalt has four bodies (including a set of twins), and one brain that controls all four bodies. ONE. BRAIN. Creepy, but awesome.
The story also turns out to be an interesting study of nature vs. nuture. Myfanwy’s childhood resulted in a rather shy person, who, whilst a capable administrator is very timid. Myfanwy 2.0, by comparison, doesn’t have her former self’s inhibitions – in how she acts or how she uses her powers for that matter. It’s interesting learning about Myfanwy 1.0 from the letters and compare and contrast her against our protagonist, it’s fun.
This book has action, it has intrigue, it has giant fungi and all kinds of slime. If you enjoy contemporary paranormal/urban fantasy, you need to check this book out. Even if you don’t normally read urban fantasy , you should check this out. It’s different, refreshing and fun. Best of all, the sequel Stiletto is due out in June.
Verdict: Buy It