06 March 2013

Books: The Rook by Daniel O'Malley (2012)

“Dear You,

The body you are wearing used to be mine. The scar on the inner left thigh is there because I fell out of a tree and impaled my leg at the age of nine. The filling in the far left tooth on the top is a result of my avoiding the dentist for four years. But you probably care little about this body’s past. After all, I’m writing this letter for you to read in the future. Perhaps you are wondering why anyone would do such a thing. The answer is both simple and complicated. The simple answer is because I knew it would be necessary. The complicated answer could take a little more time.”

Thus begins Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook, a mash-up of James Bond, the X Men , The X Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a little of Jasper Fforde’s alternate universe of Thursday Next thrown in for good measure. The story revolves around Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany –the “w” is silent) Thomas, an everyday worker bee who appeared to handle the internal financial workings of a mysterious organization that handles all of Britain’s supernatural happenings called The Checquy. Well, that’s what Myfanwy discovers after a weekend attack that reboots her so to speak. With no memory of whom she was and only a purple binder to guide her, written by her “other” version, Myfanwy begins to unravel what happened to her (as she accepts that the other Myfanwy is “dead” and she has sort of regenerated into this new one). Even as she tries to understand who she once was and who she’ll be now, Myfanwy finds out secrets about herself, has encounters a person with four bodies, deals with a woman who can enter her dreams, accept that children can transformed into deadly fighters.

Then there’s the vast conspiracy. 

When I first had contemplations of reading this book, I thought it was going to be a steampunk style novel, and was surprised it set in the present –though like Fforde’s Thursday Next series, I’m guessing it’s an alternate universe one. Also, I did not realize this was going to be a series, but as I read the book, and as O’Malley laid out his vast universe, I suspected that what I was reading was not going to be limited to one novel. Only later, when I did research on the book, did I discover this.

The book overflows with great humor and the author keeps you guessing and turning pages quickly, it’s still not that outrageously inventive. First-time author O’Malley cobbles together a lot of other people’s ideas and sews together a rather well paced thriller, with plenty of red herrings and a not so surprising ending, but it’s entertaining. And it’s funny. 

My only issue, as is with many books that begin as an unknown number of books that will follow it, is the massive info-dumping that goes on. World building is fun, but sometimes the authors get carried away and thus that it interferers with the flow of the book (Jasper Fforde has a tendency to do the same).

It’s a minor quibble really, as The Rook is just plain fun.

1 comment:

Dwayne Johnston said...

Fun and well written story. With an unexpected plot at every turn and good humor resembling that of JK Rowling the book is a very entertaining read. Highly recommend.

Dwayne Johnston (Eureka Joe's)