Title: Rook (The Checquy Files #1)
Author: Daniel O’Malley
Genre: Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Mystery
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
“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.
“The body you are wearing used to be mine.”
It’s an intriguing start for a book, one that wanna makes you read on. Unfortunately, the info dumps in the first half of the book that so conveniently spell out everything for our amnesiac heroine almost put me to sleep. I almost DNF’d this because I kept falling asleep in the middle of a looong explanation about someone or something related to the Checquy.
Now, I’m not a hater of info dumps. I’ve read and loved many books, such as Feed and Ready Player One, that have a lot of information thrown at you. I quite like explanations, really, because it helps me understand the characters and the world they live in better. So I guess Rook was an exception. Sometimes the explanations were so long that I wanted to just throw the book away. I honestly don’t know how Myfanwy managed to read and absorb so much of that huge purple
encyclopedia binder she carried around in such a short span of time.
I actually managed to completely miss an important plot twist because I was skimming some parts out of sheer boredom. I only realized it when people started getting murdered and I went back and reread stuff to get what was happening. Lol.
Another thing about the info dumps was they would pop up just as things were getting exciting. Here we have Myfanwy struggling in the present with some Chequy problem and just as it’s starting to get good, bam! Hello information from past self, let’s just fall asleep for a while. Instead of making me highly anticipate what the explanation was about and how it would help Myfanwy in her present sticky situation, it just made me close the book and go to sleep. Oop.
Despite all my whining, don’t let that put you off this book. I really enjoyed the humor throughout the book. It was quite entertaining and probably the sole reason why I slogged through the first, very slow part of the book.
The Chequy, which is a supernatural CIA-ish branch of the British government, and the people working for it were all interesting and, despite the info dumps I did not really enjoy, it’s quite an amazing organization. It doesn’t hurt that people have weird, random powers that ranged from really creepy to super cool.
Another intriguing thing that kept me reading is Myfanwy, both her past and present self. Past Myfanwy was a brilliant but passive administrator who had excellent organization skills. Present Myfanwy maintains that brilliance but drops the passive nature along with the loss of her memory. It was quite intriguing (and amusing, if a bit baffling) to see how an amnesiac managed to fool a whole branch of CIA-ish people into thinking she was quite all right WHILE trying to sniff out a traitor. Although sometimes it just wasn’t that believable that she managed so well and barely anyone was suspicious, especially since she started acting quite different from her past self.
The second half picks up the pace and makes up for all the complaining I had during the first half. A lot of shit happens, including people getting killed, creepy supposedly imaginary organizations come to life, not to mention Myfanwy meets her estranged sister.
There’s quite a lot going on in this book, which is surprising when I remember the first half, but the British humor is so on point here. I looove it so much. Despite the fact that Rook is a book filled with gore and murder and crazy shit going on (and a skinless man to boot!), it was quite surprising because I wasn’t really expecting it to be so…dark. I suspect Myfanwy’s humor and sort of laidback attitude throughout the whole ordeal influenced me into not really expecting horrific murders to happen lol. Or at least, read descriptive paragraphs of how people were being murdered. Heh.
I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series, if only so I can enjoy more of that dark humor and to learn more about the Chequey and their creepy yet interesting enemy, the Grafters. 😀