Oh. My. Gosh. What a book. A 2012 debut (a DEBUT!!!!) novel from O'Malley, an Australian author, The Rook begins with a woman in a park, at dark, surrounded by dead people wearing latex gloves, and no memory. Long story short, Myfanwy Thomas is a member of the Checquy, a secret government organization dedicated to fighting the supernatural. The Checquy, as Thomas discovers, is a hierarchical government agency that deals not only with supernatural events, but also with the everyday humdrum boring monotony of government work. That is all I am going to give away about the plot. This is the type of book that needs to slowly unfold as you read it; it is best to approach this book without any preconceived notions or ideas. There is definitely magical and supernatural elements at work in this novel; there is also startlingly human elements at play, emotions, plans, and a search for self that pushes the plot forward and helps the reader more readily relate to the characters.
The Rook has been described as an "adult Harry Potter", which is offensive to both series. This is far different from Harry Potter, which transports the reader to another world and encourages them to explore their feelings and imagination. The Rook takes real life and adds a spin to it; albeit, the spin is complex, but not a stretch to the point where the reader doubts the validity. Anyone can see themselves as the bedraggled government worker who is burned out on their job and the politics of the job to the point where an militia of ghouls, an infestation of zombies, or a dragon hatching is just another mound of paperwork. What O'Malley manages to do with this book is create a mystery in a setting that is perceived as everyday and boring to the people in the book. However, by having a protagonist with no memory, O'Malley still manages to tell a story and immerse the reader in a new world at the same time. There is constantly a thin line between fantasy and real life throughout the novel and the reader finds themselves weaving in and out of the past and the present and questioning what is normal and what is not. Flashbacks in books are frequently poorly handled, but O'Malley finds a clever way to catch the reader up on the past and on the vast array of information and characters presented.
|Author Daniel O'Malley|
I cannot fangirl enough about this book. I cannot believe I went four years without knowing this book existed. It is the best of mystery, the best of fantasy, and the best of mild horror all wrapped into one book. If you read anything in 2017, please read The Rook. It is suspenseful, funny, intellectual, and intriguing while remaining fast-paced and exciting.