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Reviewed by Janet Jensen for Readers' Favorite
Who knew Britain has had a super-secret department devoted to the supernatural since . . . I don’t know, before the Vikings? Daniel O’Malley’s novel "The Rook" sketches a history of the Chequy, a venerable organization that has assisted the government through the centuries. We learn about this through Myfanwy (it rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas, a diminutive amnesiac Rook in the organization (the ranks are based on chess pieces) who must discover who and what she is doing while managing various supernatural disasters and trying to discover who in the court is out to get her. It is a daunting task but Myfanwy’s got guts and superpowers to spare. Superpowers are great. They make for an interesting array of characters and plot twists, and in a pinch, her own unique powers certainly come in handy for Myfanwy. In the end, however, we readers know it all comes down to using the brains and strength of character she discovers she has; and Rook Myfanwy Thomas has those in spades.
The plot is complicated, the cast of players is huge, and one disaster isn’t over before another one pops up on the radar. The super powers held by various unforgettable characters are ingenious and used in highly inventive ways. "The Rook" is filled with action, political intrigue, and wry humor. The pace is generally fast though at times bogged down with massive information dumps. Overall, it is a fascinating and compelling romp through the streets of London and the surrounding countryside. I don’t think we have heard the last of Rook Thomas. In the battle of good vs. evil, we love to root for the good guys - if we know who the good guys are - and in "The Rook" Daniel O’Malley keeps us guessing until the end. In this audio version, Susan Duerden’s lovely, cultivated voice and British accent offer an interesting contrast to the often gory events in the story, and her flawless delivery highlights the humor as well.
I was relieved to know that London, one of my favorite cities, is in the best of hands when it comes to threats from the supernatural, thanks in a large part to O’Malley’s diminutive and feisty heroine, Rook Myfanwy Thomas.