Title: The Rook
Series: The Checquy Files #1
Author: Daniel O’Malley
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Urban fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, mystery
Released: January 11, 2012
Content Warnings: Native American secondary character, British Indian side character
Representation: Violent death of sex worker, W-slur, real iffy descriptions of fat people, uses ‘it’ to refer to 1 mind that controls several bodies with different genders
Synopsis*: “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 Checquy 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 Checquy 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.
The Rook is serving political intrigue with a side serving of supernatural chaos and I loved every damn second of it.
“Myfanwy Thomas, bad things are headed your way. As bad as ever I have seen in my life. You will lose everything. You will end in the rain, and beyond that I cannot see. So enjoy yourself while you can.”
Myfanwy Thomas wakes up in a park, surrounded by bodies and not a single memory of what came before.
She literally knows nothing about herself or how on earth she wound up in her current situation until she discovers a letter in her pocket, addressed to You, explaining that the person she once was knew this event would happen and has adequately prepared for what’s to come.
This is my second read. I read it in December 2016, back before I wrote reviews and was still just having fun and not at all stressed out by totally self-inflicted pressure to review books well and do the words and the wit thing.
The Rook was one of the first books I read because of Goodreads. I read Emily May’s review in 2016, my expectations were high and it still blew me away.
It’s all fairly self-explanatory, really.
Oh, well, thanks an awful lot, Thomas, Myfanwy thought bitterly. It sounds like I’m the Defense Minister of Ghosts and Goblins, but as long as the job is “all fairly self-explanatory,” I’ve no doubt it will be fine. The country might get overrun by brownies and talking trees, but what the hell—there’s always Australia!
I didn’t plan on rereading it, at least not any time soon but then I heard word that we were getting a TV adaptation. I decided to do a reread so I could accurately compare the two and decide which is better.
I never made it past the first episode. I didn’t even finish the first episode.
The show has lost all the humour and chaotic good charm that made the book so brilliant.
And then I thought maybe I was being a little harsh, but after speaking with another fan of the book who also watched the series, I have decided that I have totally made the right decision and I refuse to put myself through that again.
“I am not taking any kind of gun.”
“You are definitely taking a gun.”
“Is that a fact, Dirty Harry?” asked Myfanwy, eyeing Shantay’s weapon.
“Honey, I can punch my fist through a tank if I put my mind to it, and I am taking a gun.”
“Fine, I’ll take a gun. But nothing that weighs more than I do.”
So now that I’ve shat all over the show, what made the book so special that I will defend it with my dying breath???
Oh, but where to start?
This book will have you hooked from page one. Between the letters from past Myfanwy Thomas who is referred to in the book as Thomas, so I’ll be doing the same and the chaos of being thrust into a super secret supernatural branch of the government called the Checquy, with no memory of how to do her job, the present Myfanwy Thomas who is referred to in the book as Myfanwy, so again, I’ll be doing the same stumbles through political protocol, international warfare and trying to figure out and establish a sense of self as a grown adult.
🔖 If you would like a free phone wallpaper created by yours truly, stay till the end of this post where you’ll find a link to download TWO!
She looked at Gestalt in wonder and saw smug satisfaction on his handsome face. You think I’m in a daze because you’re handsome? I’m in a daze because I could crush you.
All of this and she discovers she’s also got a pretty rad superpower of being able to control living matter. Which even Thomas didn’t have that much knowledge about.
This woman is the queen of fake it till you make it.
“Yes,” sighed Myfanwy. “This should be a pleasant little interview. All I have to do is put on my scary face.”
“You have a scary face?” Ingrid sounded skeptical.
“Yes,” said Myfanwy indignantly. “I have a very scary face.” Ingrid surveyed her for a moment.
“You may wish to take off the cardigan then, Rook Thomas,” she advised tactfully. “The flowers on the pockets detract somewhat from your menace.”
Quite frankly, The Rook a fucking masterpiece of wit and humour.
It has all the dry comedy that the Brits are known for. I have quite a dry sense of humour myself, which is the result of being brought up with an English step-dad, so I thoroughly enjoyed all of it.
Myfanwy’s inner thoughts were so fucking funny. The woman has been dropped into the biggest clusterfuck and deals with it with humour and grace and I might be a little in love with her, now that I think about it.
Everything that makes me who I am. My memories. My personality. My soul. Gone forever. Obliterated. That’s worse than dying.
And it poses a lot of good questions.
If our memory is totally wiped, are we the same person if the only thing we share with our past selves are mind and body?
Is that enough to make up who we are?
Or does memory play a bigger role in our sense of selves than we ever give it credit for?
Who are we if we have no memory of the experiences that make us who we are?
If I think about it too much I might actually lose my mind so uh, let’s move on shall we?
He peeled back his lips, and revealed a smile full of razors.
On top of all that the plotting is so tight and complex that you never get bored. You have no idea what’s going to come next, not because of lazy writing and a stupidly placed belief that no one should ever be able to tell what’s going to come next because SPOILERS, even if your twists go against all characterisation established up until that point. Can you tell I’m still bitter about the way writers chose to end 2 particular franchises??
O’Malley would never.
No, the reason why you never know what’s going to happen next is because the world he builds is so vast and strange and wonderful that anything is possible.
You want dragons? It’s go dragons!
You want a weird mould cult?? It’s got that too.
You want multiple bodies of different genders all controlled by the same mind??? Ah huh, you’re in luck it’s got that too.
You want an ancient organisation that turns human beings into war machines using alchemy and technology? Oh boy, you’re in for a treat.
How on earth O’Malley came up with any of these things is beyond me. Because not even when I was at my peak stoner days would my mind have been able to cook up the weird shit you can find in this book.
Maybe I should lie and say that I’m a Grafter, she thought desperately. Or Satan. They’d probably stop this if I were Satan.
But it’s not all fun and games, the stakes are high!
Myfanwy is pretending to be her old self, who she has no memory of, to trick everyone into thinking nothing has changed while trying to track down who crossed Thomas, erased her memory and very clearly wanted her dead and why they wanted to do any of that in the first place.
Someone wanted Myfanwy Thomas gone, the very foundation that made her who she is, erased. What on earth could this meek woman have done to invite that kind of wrath onto her? And how is Myfanwy going to keep herself from falling into the same fate, armed with nothing but a suitcase of letters and classified government dossiers at her disposal?
Have I got you yet?
C’mon, admit you’re at least a little intrigued.
You can thank me later, after you’ve read this book and had the time of your life.
This person can destroy my life. But they already destroyed Thomas’s, and by God, they’ll pay for that.
Where To Buy
*Taken from Goodreads.
**If you would like me to include links to purchase books from a specific store in my reviews please let me know!
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Grey Recommends – Spy Comedies
🍃 Spy, film: A desk-bound CIA analyst volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent diabolical global disaster.
🍃 The Spy Who Dumped Me, film: Audrey and Morgan are best friends who unwittingly become entangled in an international conspiracy when one of the women discovers the boyfriend who dumped her was actually a spy.
🍃 Johnny English, film: After a sudden attack on the MI5, Johnny English, Britain’s most confident yet unintelligent spy, becomes Britain’s only spy.
I need everyone to read this book!
🔖 If you would like a FREE Phone Wallpaper that I created with quotes from this book you can find two here.
Have you read The Rook?
What is a book you think is underrated?