Theresa's Reviews > The Rook

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
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Feb 25, 14

Read from December 04 to 05, 2011

"The Rook" is basically the story of two Myfanwy Thomases. The first one we never officially meet: she exists in the letters (a suitcase full) that she writes to the second Myfanwy-- the one who wakes up with two black eyes and her memory scrubbed. The idea of having Myfawny write letters to herself is a clever device that neatly side-steppes the common predictability of a story centered around an amnesiac. Myfawny has the information she needs at hand-- If only she can read the letters fast enough.

But there is so much more to "The Rook" than someone trying to shake loose some lost memories. The Myfawny who only survives through the letters is as distinct a personality as the one who wakes up. The letters she writes, each starting with the salutation Dear You, are meticulously detailed and act as a window to the past and introduce each key character along the way. The structure of the story is inventive and greatly satisfying because Myfawny literally acts as her own protector and doesn't need to rely on some half-baked romantic interest to save her.

The story is an urban fantasy, of sorts, in that it is set in modern day London. But the supernatural agency that Myfanwy works for exists in its own little world with posh offices and an elaborate boarding school that churns out a devoted army of supernatural agents ready to defend the world against all otherworldly threats. The old Myfanwy had the power, but not the motivation to use it, and made her way up the power structure by an uncommon talent for organization. But the new Myfanwy only has the letters, written by her hyper-organized alter-ego, to guide her and a new willingness to use her powers--and her journey is by turns harrowing and hilarious.

I thoroughly enjoyed "The Rook." I loved the way the story was told from the alternating perspectives of Myfanwy's letters and the real-time person trying to sort out her bizarre circumstances. But it isn't only that literary device that makes this a great book. It's also tremendously imaginative. There might be times where certain ideas seem borrowed, like that of a boarding school for super-powered children, but O'Malley's version is gloriously strange and humorous in its own very unique way. This is a book with dragons and vampires and people with tentacles and tear-gas emitting sweat. This isn't some lightweight paranormal fantasy, it's a book you can sink your teeth into. It's complex, original, sometimes violent and altogether satisfying. The minute I was done with it I wanted to sit down and read it again.

4 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Shelby | Double Up Books That was me too when I finished it - I wanted to read it all over again. Great review!


message 2: by Vicky (new) - added it

Vicky Thanks for the review! I'm stuck around page 170 and finding it just too slow paced for my personal taste. Does it get more fast paced and exciting, so I should stick with it? It might still be a great book, but for me I guess I need some action to get me through the informational pages. What is your advice?


Theresa Shelby | Double Up Books wrote: "That was me too when I finished it - I wanted to read it all over again. Great review!"

Thank you!


Theresa Vicky wrote: "Thanks for the review! I'm stuck around page 170 and finding it just too slow paced for my personal taste. Does it get more fast paced and exciting, so I should stick with it? It might still be a g..."

The action certainly picks up, but if you're not enjoying the style of the book yet, I'm not sure if it'll grow on you or not. The book never felt slow to me-- so it might just be a taste thing.


message 5: by Vicky (new) - added it

Vicky Thx!


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