Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, September 04, 2017

The Rook takes me to a new level in my Series-ous Reading game

Along with catching up on a couple of historical fiction series lingering on my TBR piles, my year of Series-ous Reading also permits me to try out the first entry in other genres such as sci-fi/fantasy and for the end of summer, The Rook by Daniel O'Malley was certainly a great blockbuster of a read in that area.

The story introduces you to Mynfanwy Thomas, a young woman who wakes up in a local park in London with no memory yet surrounded by dead bodies, all of which are wearing latex gloves. Now, that's an intriguing set-up but trust me, that will seem rather tame as things start rolling along.

Mynfanwy's only clue as to who she is comes from a letter that her pre-mind wipe self wrote to her future self, as she was given several heads-up from random psychics about this situation. Turns out, she works for a special secret government agency called The Checquy, one that specializes in containing supernatural events and is run by people with unusual powers such as appearing in other people's dreams and sweating tear gas.

Her own powers allow her to control the nervous systems of others, one that was thought to be only activated by touch.

 However, free of her standard shy nature, Mynfanwy discovers that her abilities are much more extensive than she or anyone else knew, yet she did learn a major secret that caused one of her Checquy cohorts to have her memory erased.

Given the option of investigating into this matter or going off to make a new life, Mynfanwy decides to stay on, using the numerous letters that her prior self wrote as a guide to discovering the truth:

This search for what lead to her memory loss forces Mynfanwy to take up her position at work as a Rook, a high level executive of sorts.

While there, she has to hide her amnesia and hopefully not make anyone suspicious of her, despite the matching set of black eyes and other bruises on her person.

 Returning to work does give her plenty of access to information that could solve her personal mystery and it also gives Mynfanwy access to a variety of suspects such as her fellow Rook Gestalt, who is one persona shared among four bodies or Bishop Alrich, a vampire who was born from an egg. There's also recent activity,such as a bizarre purple slime that traps a budding cult in Bath, that indicates that an old enemy of the Checquy known as The Grafters may be rising again.

As Mynfanwy does her best to appear as her former self and look for clues as to who betrayed her, she also gets a chance to develop a stronger personality and more of a life outside her work as well.

This is one of my favorite aspects of the story, as the letters to the new Mynfanwy show the sad,lonely existence she was leading in this strange sector of the world and this reset has a lot of benefits to offer her along with the losses.

 I love how she manages to make unexpected friends and allies along the way, such as her assistant Ingrid, who knows more than she seems and Shantay, a visitor from the American branch of the Checquy known as Croatoan whose special powers pitch in when Mynfanwy gets overwhelmed by her own special skills:

It's great how O'Malley balances out the offbeat elements of the story with the solid character development of our leading lady, a person who we get to know before and after the major event that changes her life occurs.

There's also some wonderful spots of humor, such as a scene where a psychic animal reading goes wrong which leads to a debate over whether or not to dispose of the fool who ruined the event in the first place(don't worry, there is no onscreen harm shown to the duck in question. Yes, a psychic duck, I am so not kidding about that).

At the moment, there is only one sequel to The Rook which came out last year entitled Stiletto and word of mouth has been excellent for that one as well. I do intend to read Stiletto in the hopefully near future and while I have heard that you don't have to read The Rook first to enjoy it, I highly recommend doing so.

This book is a smart,quirky blast and a good way to get to know Mynfanwy Thomas's world which is as amazing odd as any wonderland out there:

Well, with summer now over(for the most part), it's back to the stacks for my September selection which is Stephanie Barron's Jane and the Stillroom Maid.

This fifth book in the Jane Austen Mystery series takes our heroine to Derbyshire, where the shocking discovery of a body holds more than one surprise to be solved.

Derbyshire is also a key spot for Jane Austen fans, as a good portion of Pride & Prejudice is set in that part of England, especially noted as where the fabled estate of Mr. Darcy is supposed to be. Perhaps the inspiration for Pemberley might have a few clues for our detective version of Our Dear Jane? We shall see:

No comments: