narfna’s #CBR4 Review #55: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
I picked this book up because of the cover, checked it out of the library because of the blurb, and stayed glued to my couch for hours because of the opening sentence (“Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine.”) I haven’t heard many people talking about The Rook yet, so I figure I should get things started. I loved this book. It wasn’t perfect and I wouldn’t necessarily call it a favorite, but it was unbelievably engaging and creepy, and I became rather attached to all the characters by the end of it. I kind of hope there’s not a sequel, but I’m sure there will be. Authors these days.
The Rook is the story of Myfanwy (Welsh, pronounced Miff-an-ee) Thomas, or rather, the person who is now inhabiting the body of the former Myfanwy Thomas. New-Myfanwy wakes up in a park in London with no memory of who she is, surrounded by dead people wearing rubber gloves. She finds a letter in her coat pocket addressed to “You,” and upon reading it, discovers that Former-Myfanwy had been aware she was going to lose her memory for quite some time and had made extensive preparations. The letter sends new-Myfanway to a bank and gives her a choice: pick this safety deposit box and you can leave London and live a new life, rich and free (with the possibility that someone may try to track you down in the future and kill you); pick that safety deposit box, you find out who I am and how to take over my life. New-Myfanwy chooses the latter and soon finds herself one of the leaders of a top-secret shadowy pseudo-government agency called The Checquy which trains young Britons with superpowers and keeps the world safe from paranormal threats. Oh, and also she has superpowers herself. With help from former-Myfanwy’s letters, Myfanwy must navigate her new life and somehow unravel the mystery of who is trying to have her killed, and why.
Okay, so writing it out like that makes me remember it even more fondly, and I think my opinion of the book just went up even more. I kind of want to retract my previous statement — this book might be on its way to my favorites shelf after all.
There is a shit ton of urban fantasy being written these days, and most of it is not my cup of tea — too urban, too gritty, too formulaic. But The Rook manages to avoid all those things I don’t really like, instead providing heaping spoonfuls of atmosphere (mysterious, creepy, beautiful, elegant, to abuse a few adjectives), characters that felt like real people, and genuinely frightening (and at times horribly disgusting) threats. But really it was the storytelling that got me. The main conceit of the novel — Myfanwy learning about her life through letters her former self had written — was extremely effective. I might even call it charming. It made the book feel like a story, and all the magic that implies. Something else I loved about The Rook is what it did for Myfanwy, who should be added post-haste to every list of badass female characters. I want to say more about this particular line of thought, but I’m trying to keep this review spoiler free. You’re just going to have to take my word for it and go read this book.
Plus, if all of that doesn’t sell you, one of the characters in this book is one person who happens to inhabit four different bodies at the same time. I mean, come on. How cool is that?
Yep, this review made me immediately put this book on reserve at the library. Sounds intriguing!
You’re going to like it. You and I have the same taste in books, at least from what I’ve seen so far 🙂
Definitely, you and Scootsa are my go-to reviewers 🙂
Right back at you, even stevens. I have an entire folder of CBR reviews from a handful of participants that are books I had never heard of, and can’t wait to read. That has been my absolute favorite part of this challenge over the past two years.
This sounds right up my alley. This is why I love Cannonball Read. I never would have heard of this book otherwise!
I know, I’ve found so many books I never would have looked twice at, or that I’d never heard of before because of Cannonball. So glad baxlala peer pressured me into joining.
I just reserved it at my library, as well. So glad to see that I’m next in line for it, as I’m really looking forward to reading it. Thanks so much for the review!
Thanks to your review, I’m moving this higher up on my To Read list. I’d heard intriguing things about the book elsewhere, and you just confirmed that it’s great. At the moment, I’m re-reading things that I don’t plan on blogging, so my Yet to be Blogged list doesn’t keep growing longer and longer. But once my blogging is up to date, I can read it. It will also fit nicely into the R.I.P challenges I’ve set myself, so that’s nice.
What is “R.I.P.?”
I found it linked on another review site I follow. It looks fun, and for someone who reads as much as I do, finishing 4 books before October 31st is a breeze.
Oh, that sounds fun! Book bloggers are the best. (Except when they’re not . . . this whole YA book blogging crisis is making me exhausted.)
I, too, am putting this on my “to-read” list 🙂
I just finished this and wanted to thank you for the review. I never would have found this book otherwise and it was truly a delight. A little bit gross sometimes, but a delight nonetheless!
Somehow I completely missed your review of this! Having just read this and scootsa1000’s review, I’m reading this immediately.