THE ROOK by Daniel O’Malley

Daniel O’Malley
Jan 11, 2012
Little, Brown and Co

You wake up surrounded by dead bodies that are wearing surgical gloves. You’re soaking wet and you have no idea what just happened. What do you do? Where do you go? Who do you trust?
What has happened to your reality?

This is the situation the lead character in THE ROOK by Daniel O’Malley, Myfawny Thomas, finds herself in. Thomas finds a letter in her coat pocket addressed to “You”. The letter explains that the body she currently occupies had previously belongs to the writer of the letter. A series of letters from the body’s previous owner help her understand the world around her and track down the person or people that are trying to kill her.

Thomas discovers she is a high-ranking member of the Checquy, a secret government agency that protects England and the world from supernatural threats. The Checquy recruits children with supernatural abilities and trains them to use their talents to protect the world. Think Men In Black meets the X-Men.

I generally have trouble reading books set in universes other than the one I know. Fantasy elements are not my usual forte. As a scientist in my everyday life, I prefer my entertainment to follow the set rules of the world I know, so my expectations of enjoying the Rook were set rather low. Credit goes to O’Malley for doing an exceptional job laying the groundwork for this English fantasy world is such a way as to not alienate readers like myself.

For a story set in government agency, there is considerably more action than pencil pushing for Thomas. She has to watch an intense witness interrogation on her first day on the job and the action continues from there. She continually finds herself in otherworldly situations, including trying to disarm a house that has been overtaken by a man-eating fungus. When she is not interrogating enemy operatives or trying not to become lunch for a fungus, Thomas finds herself growing into her role as an agent. Amid all the weirdness, she finds herself becoming more and more assertive. Can it be weirdness is good for you?

The oddness that Thomas encounters on every page was just a treat to read and Thomas coming into her own as an agent gave this reader reason to cheer. I can’t wait to read about the further adventures of Myfawny Thomas.

Kate S.H.Malmon