Courtesy of Beaverdale Books
Review by Julie Goodrich
Back Bay Books
Pub Date: October 16, 2013
A woman wakes up in a park in the rain with no idea who she is or why she is surrounded by dead bodies. “The Rook,” by Daniel O’Malley, starts off with a bang, to say the least. Our amnesiac heroine soon learns through letters written by her former self that she is Myfanwy Thomas, administrator to a hush-hush organization in England. This underground world is full of supernatural threats, genetic oddballs and mind-boggling bureaucracy — kept in line by only the most tenuous strands of governmental control. The agents of this particular department run the gamut of weird, from metal skin to multiple bodies. The story begins when the “new” Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) must slip into her previous self’s shoes while keeping everyone else in the dark about the change, because someone in the shadowy club is a traitor and the wrong move could bring a swift end to the “new” Myfanwy or, at the very least, cover her in hypnotic purple goo.
Mind invaders, rubber bones mad scientists — there isn’t a supernatural stone unturned in the wacky world O’Malley has created. Myfanwy, however, takes the cake as a double protagonist, the “new” version sharing the stage with the old, her memories and thoughts kept alive by the letters she wrote to her new self. The story is an interesting twist on the copious amount of supernatural fiction filled with British humor, literary twists and the kind of plot that never lets go. The pages seem to turn themselves, so be warned, don’t pick this up late at night. CV