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The Rook (Paperback)
Summary: Myfanwy Thomas is born (as a fully grown adult) during a rainstorm and surrounded by people wearing surgical gloves. Now when I say, “people”, that is a bit inaccurate. What I really mean to say is Myfanwy is surrounded by bodies, all of whom are wearing surgical gloves. Which is a bit disturbing….
Even more disconcerting is the discovery that her body once belonged to another woman, one who seems to have enemies who are willing to go to extreme lengths to make sure she never tells anyone what she knows. The problem is, Myfanwy doesn’t know what it is she isn’t supposed to know. More worrisome is the fact she doesn’t know who she is…
You might think her memory loss was due to amnesia - unfortunately it isn’t anything so mundane - it is far too pervasive. Myfanwy’s previous personality, memories - everything that made her is completely gone, leaving behind a brand new, unencumbered person looking out of the eyes, which once belonged exclusively to another woman. You might be wondering with this memory loss how Myfanwy knows her name…
A single clue was left in her jacket pocket, letter written by her body’s previous occupant, beginning with “Dear You,”. This gives her a choice - leave behind the life her body’s previous occupant enjoyed for a cushy life on an anonymous white sand beach somewhere or learn who betrayed her and put and end to them.
Review: This book is a couple of years old now and I have no idea how I missed it when it was first released! In fact, if it hadn’t been misfiled in the new release section of my local book store I would have continued on blissfully unaware I’d missed this great book. But the fates (or gnomes - which I swear are responsible for the proliferation of misfiled books - since this book was in the completely wrong place) smiled down on me and this book caught my eye. It is one part “Agents of Shield” (before they were a thing), one part Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and one part Dark City mixed together to create a completely engrossing, snarky supernatural thriller.
What I enjoyed was how O’Malley worked both personalities of Myfanwy into the story in a way I haven’t seen in a very long time. By using letters one personality wrote to the other, it allowed the author to create a more dynamic story. It enabled the O’Malley to slip in information and a plot points into the narrative without having to add repetitive transitional passages describing some sort of flashback to Myfanwy’s previous personality or discombobulate the reader by switching to abruptly between narrators. “Dear You,” at the beginning of the letter was all that was needed to read to know who was talking and what was going on. Very clever and fun to read! The spacing of the letters in the narrative was also wonderful. The author used them to heighten tension by breaking up scenes, doling information and by having significant plot points happening in the letters themselves (they are not all dossiers on the main player in the story). The letters from one personality to the other added significantly to the storytelling allowing an extra level of detail and fun to the overall book. (Plus the letters allowed me to feel further connected to both personalities which helped me become seriously invested in the book - I really liked them as a plot device and I think O’Malley used them to their fullest advantage).
The other aspect I really enjoyed was the fact Myfanwy was in charge of her own destiny. She investigated the crime perpetrated against her with only the help of her former self. Myfanwy stood on her own two feet and figured out what needed doing and did it. She did not rely on someone else to save her. Meaning? She was not a damsel in distress who could only trust the smoldering gentleman she worked with, whom she couldn’t be sure wasn’t the one who betrayed her. Now I like an urban fantasy romance book as much as the next gal, but I am very glad that the author didn’t use this short cut of a plot device in his story.
So to sum up basically all I can say is SQUEEEEEE!!! Seriously I think you should read this book!! It is a great tale of urban supernatural espionage with a strong and capable woman getting things done! If you like mousey librarian types who find themselves in a small cage filled with large lions and tigers and discovers they are really a sabertooth tiger, then this book is for you!
Office of Fair Warning: It is a hair slow in the beginning but once Rook Thomas starts her first day at the office things really take off! You only have to make it to chapter three which is thirty-one pages in - so I have faith you can stick with it! I know I have hung in there much farther into a book before it finally decided to get up and move (and seriously it is only a little slow), so this should be a piece of cake!
And BTW ignore the description on the back cover! It makes this book sound fluffy when it is nothing of the kind AND it is a bit inaccurate! There is no purple slime in the book - purple spores and mold yes - but no purple slime!
My 52 Weeks With Christie: A.Miner2015— Amber
Amber had been after me to read Daniel O'Malley's The Rook ever since she read it, what was it, last year, I guess? And I've said before that I should have learned by now that when she nags me to read something, she's right.
Darn it, she's right again.
In The Rook, Daniel O'Malley has created a great protagonist in a familiar world that's beautifully strange. Myfanwy Thomas becomes aware that she's standing in the rain, there's a ring of dead people all wearing latex gloves around her, and she has no earthly idea who she is. And there's a letter in her pocket that begins:
The body you're wearing used to be mine."
From that point on, the new Myfanwy (which she pronounces to rhyme with "Tiffany") has to figure out who she is, what she's supposed to do, and who removed the memory of the Myfanwy before her. She discovers that she was a Very Important Person in a secret government organization in Britain, and she's a great organizer. But she's going to have to figure out how to survive - and where she lives, what she likes to eat, and how to get into her office - all while keeping her amnesia secret. Because someone close to her is out to kill her.
In general, I'm not a fan of amnesia stories, but Daniel O'Malley blows this one out of the water. He's created two great characters in Myfanwy, both unique and distinct from each other, both incredibly likable, and then he surrounded her/them with a host of wild and unpredictable people, none of whom Myfanwy is sure she can trust. The letters the old Myfanwy writes to her new self are fun and sometimes poignant, and incredibly clever. The way the new Myfanwy attacks her surprising life is nothing short of inspirational, in a darkly funny way.
Make no mistake, this is not a gentle, cozy book. There are some truly awful things that happen, the language is often adult, and the bodies are not at all off-stage. But the humor is laugh-out-loud and the pacing is both breakneck and impeccable. Amber tells me there's a sequel early next year, and I cannot wait!
Once again, she was right. The Rook just moved to the top of my "Best Of" list, and you know how long that list is! Someday, I swear I'll listen when she shoves a book in my hands and hollers, "READ THIS!" And you should too. Seriously. Read this.— Fran
Myfanwy Thomas awakes in a London park surrounded by dead bodies. With her memory gone, her only hope of survival is to trust the instructions left in her pocket by her former self. She quickly learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. But there is a mole inside the organization and this person wants her dead.
As Myfanwy battles to save herself, she encounters a person with four bodies, a woman who can enter her dreams, children transformed into deadly fighters, and an unimaginably vast conspiracy. Suspenseful and hilarious, THE ROOK" "is an outrageously inventive debut for readers who like their espionage with a dollop of purple slime.
About the Author
Dan O'Malley graduated from Michigan State University and earned a Master's Degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. He then returned to his childhood home, Australia. He now works for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, writing press releases for government investigations of plane crashes and runaway boats.