Mark's Reviews > The Rook

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
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's review
Jul 23, 2012

really liked it
Read in July, 2012 — I own a copy

A very fun read, wry and bizarre at the same time. Myffanwy Thomas is a major officer in a secret British organization that defends the realm against supernatural threats, and has done so for centuries. They do their work in greater secrecy even than the NSA and they have a long history of success.

Thomas finds herself at the beginning standing in pouring rain in a park, dead bodies all around her, and no memory of who she is. There is a letter in her pocket informing her that this attack was expected and that there are other letters for her, explaining things, but she has to get to a place of safety, and to that end she has some credit cards under an untraceable name.

After cleaning up in a hotel room, she reads the other letter which takes her to a bank deposit vault where she finds a suitcase filled with letters from her former self, telling her there is a traitor in her organization who has done this to her and she has to find him before the entire organization is compromised or destroyed.

The new personality inhabiting the body is strikingly different from the original. As the novel unfolds, she reads letter after letter, which detail the history of the world of this secret society and what she did in it and what she found concernign the treason. As she educates herself, learns her powers, and finds out more about her circumstances, she has to do her old job and some new ones besides.

In many ways this reminds one of Charles Stross's "Laundry" books, The Atrocity Archives etc, but the voice is very different, the nature of the threats are far less Lovecraftian, and the acerbic wit is distinct. Decidedly fun and wrapped up. Certainly O'Malley could do a sequel, but this novel is nicely self-contained.

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