“Dear You, the body you are wearing used to be mine.”
Now if that opening line isn’t going to capture your attention, I don’t know what will. But that’s how this book opens, and it’s one of those rare and magical times that an opening line does everything it’s supposed to do at its best. You’ve got an enticing idea, and character, it gives you some sense of what to expect in the coming 400 pages, and it perfectly tees up the tone for the rest of the book. So if you’re turned off by that line, you can close the book on this post right now.
**SPOILER FREE POST**
But I should probably say a few words on what Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook is actually about. Ahem. Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) wakes up in a park in central London surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves. With no memory of who she is, she has only the letters her previous self left behind to piece together the plot that led to the gloved corpses in the park, and her own identity. Which she quickly learns is as a leading member of a secret government organisation tasked with protecting Great Britain against supernatural forces. So a piece of cake really.
I picked this book up at the delightful Barter Books (every book lover’s DREAM – go there) and didn’t really know what to expect, other than an enticing concept. But I really loved it! I seem to say this about a lot of stuff, I’m aware, but I had a great time reading The Rook, and would like someone to sit down and talk about it with so if someone can pick it up and read it that would be great please and thank you.
Granted at first, there was some confusion over what had actually happened to Myfanwy – Had she just lost her memories? Was there actually someone else who had been planted into her body? – but all became clear eventually. As most mysteries do. That was actually one of the really fun things about The Rook, having a mystery thriller story woven into an urban fantasy. The two complemented each other well.
Myfanwy is also a wonderful protagonist. She’s resourceful, and she takes everything in her stride, and it’s really useful to have a character that’s also new to the Chequy (the secret government supernatural crime fighters) so everything can be nicely explained to us, the readers. And Myfanwy absorbs it all in great humour. Which is in fact my favourite thing about the book – its sense of humour. It was much funnier than I expected it to be, and perhaps even funnier than it realises. I embarrassed myself several times on the train in front of some teenagers, chuckling away to myself. The supernatural elements are handled as if they’re totally normal and to be expected, as I’m sure they are in that line of work, and its often Myfanwy’s aside comments that go with this expectation that are funniest. So all in all, a thoroughly enjoyable book, like nothing I’ve read before, and definitely an author I’ll be keeping an eye out for in future.
‘Why are the hot ones always gay?’ Or vampires.
– The Rook, Daniel O’Malley