Thinking Aloud: “The Rook”

July 1, 2015 by Darius 

If Robert Ludlam’s The Bourne Identity and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series somehow had a child, it might be something like The Rook by Daniel O’Malley.

A woman recovers consciousness in a park, only to find herself with no memory and surrounded by dead bodies.  A letter in her pocket tells her she is a Rook, a top operative in the Checquy Group, a secret organization that has protected the British Isles from supernatural threats for centuries.  She, like many other operatives, has special powers along the lines of the mutants from X-Men.  And another member of the ruling circle is trying to kill her.

The Rook is perfectly entertaining as a mystery, but O’Malley’s sheer imagination makes the book extra-special.  Characters, from one person with four bodies (named Gestalt, of course) to someone who can sweat tear gas, are wide-ranging and fascinating to imagine.  The Rook also contains a lot of understated humor, from witty dialogue to the fact that Belgians get to be the bad guys (how often does that happen?).  Finally, O’Malley does a phenomenal job in making the world he creates in The Rook internally consistent, which is a nice cherry on the cake.

The plot moves from playful to creepy and back, and I can say with a bit of guilt that The Rook joined the select club of books that kept me up reading until the small hours of the morning, to the detriment of my productivity the next day. 🙂

If you enjoy fantasy books, The Rook is simply not to be missed.


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