Recently, I cleaned out my bookshelves. I went through every book I own (too many), and tried to be honest with myself. If I disliked the book when I read it, I sold it. No matter how pretty the cover or what memories are attached to it. For unread titles I asked myself, “Will I ever read this one?” No? Sell it. Yes? Read it very soon. This book has been sitting on my shelf for a year and a half. It survived my springtime purge, so I decided to just open it up and read it. I am glad I did.
Myfanwy Thomas wakes up in the rain, surrounded by dead bodies, and with no memory. She only knows who she is because of a letter in her coat pocket written by her pre-amnesia self. Myfanwy follows the letters’ directions to rediscover her identity, but along the way she finds that her assailants are still after her. Oh, and she is also a ranking member of a secret paranormal police society. One of the other ranking members has betrayed her and erased her memories, but who and why?
In my opinion, go into the book knowing as little as possible for best results. This book pulled me right out of my reading slump. It was a blast. There is a lot of creativity, humor, and action packed fun in this novel. Did I mention it is fun? Because it is. It reminds me of Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman’s writing. Specifically, it made me think of Good Omens by the aforementioned duo. The novel is set in England and often has some dry English humor and some ridiculous situations with British seriousness mixed in.
O’Malley’s female lead character, Myfanwy, is great. She’s a well-written female character with supportive female friends, believable faults and mistakes, and a strong resolve. Pre-amnesia Myfanwy’s letters are peppered throughout the novel, which gives us a glimpse of past Myfanwy. Past and present Myfanwy are actually distinctly different and yet share some similarities, but both are wonderful to read from. Although I enjoy past Myfanwy’s letters, I feel that they at times interrupt the flow of the novel as a whole. The letters also dump a lot of information on the reader at once, but with such a large and complicated paranormal underworld, the letters are a good and perhaps necessary way to say everything that the reader needs to know. Honestly, all of the side characters are great too. I don’t know how O’Malley came up with so many unique paranormal powers for each person and also made me care about even the unnamed body guards, but he did.
The Rook is no literary triumph that examines the human condition, but it is a hellishly good read. There is a sequel out, so you know what I am buying next.